Estimates of government expenditure are referred to Senate committees as part of the annual budget cycle. This opportunity to examine the operations of government plays a key role in the parliamentary scrutiny of the executive. One of the most significant features of the procedure for examining estimates is the opportunity that senators have to question officers of the public service directly. BFPCA has engaged the Australian Parliament’s Senate Estimates process to hold the government to account for Brisbane Airport’s excessive noise pollution experienced by Brisbane residents.

BFPCA is grateful to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport for asking the following questions. BFPCA also thank the offices of Terri Butler MPSenator Anthony ChisholmSenator Janet RiceSenator Larissa Waters and others for their support in tabling these questions.

On this page we publish video recordings and document answers provided to Questions on Notice (QoN). These written answers can also be retrieved from the Senate’s website.

On this page:

Additional Estimates 2021 / 2022

📺 Video recording: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications; hearing date: 14 February 2022

New questions being asked of the Department of Transport in Senate Estimates (14 Feb 2022)

New questions being asked of the Department of Transport in Senate Estimates (14 Feb 2022) Senator Larissa Waters is holding the Government to account asking the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications new questions about the recent recommendations proposed by Barnaby Joyce’s Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum (BAPAF). Some highlights (lowlights?)… Trax International had already been engaged end of 2021, that is, prior to the end of the embargo of BAPAF’s first Quarterly Progress Report on 19 Jan 2022; The Department could not answer questions about how Trax International was selected, recruited, and the value and terms of their contract – yet it (apparently) is supposed to provide regulatory oversight over Airservices and secretarial support for BAPAF; When the three “immediate” recommendations will be implemented still remains unclear and vague; The outcomes of the Post-Implementation Review (PIR) may be expected around September 2022, yet implementation of any changes as a result of the PIR would take longer without any clear timeframes provided; The Department has not yet modelled an estimate of the funds required to compensate Brisbane communities for insulation expenses, property devaluations of approx. 10% (according to a 2016 study by JLL), loss of amenity and quality of life, and medical / health expenses. The Department has also not yet considered the implications of Brisbane Airport being declared a leviable airport under the Aircraft Noise Levy Collection Act 1995, which is still in force and ready to be used for such compensation claims once the Minister issues the required declaration. Find out more about Senate Estimates: https://bfpca.org.au/estimates/ Find out more about BAPAF: https://bfpca.org.au/bapaf/ #auspol #estimates #airport #brisbane #noise #KeepTheBastardsHonest

Posted by Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance on Sunday, 13 February 2022

Answers to Questions on Notice: Airservices

78. Noise Monitors

Senator Tony Sheldon asked:

Senator SHELDON: I just want to ask a question regarding the noise monitors. Is there an intention to install permanent noise monitors in Balmoral, Hawthorne, Northgate and Wavell Heights? This is regarding Brisbane Airport.
Mr Harfield: I’ll ask Mr Curran to answer that specifically.
Mr Curran: At this stage, there’s no decision been taken to install new permanent noise monitors. There are a range of temporary noise monitors that have been deployed across Brisbane during the PIR—post-implementation review.
Senator SHELDON: The temporary ones are at Balmoral, Hawthorne, Northgate and Wavell Heights—is that correct?
Mr Curran: A number have been deployed, and certainly Balmoral was one. I’d have to take it on notice to confirm exact locations, but I believe there are a couple of other locations further away from Brisbane Airport that are being looked at as well.

Answer: Airservices has temporary noise monitors in place at Bardon, Carina, Hamilton, and New Farm. An additional temporary noise monitor currently at Samford will be placed at various locations throughout the Post Implementation Review (PIR). This monitor is planned to be relocated from Samford to Wavell Heights by the end of March 2022.

Brisbane Airport Corporation has a temporary noise monitor in place at Cedar Creek. This was previously placed at Balmoral and Brookfield. Brisbane Airport Corporation will move its temporary noise monitor to Northgate to evaluate noise impacts during the full-length runway departure trial.

104. Response to Brisbane Airport Advisory Forum recommendations

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

The Brisbane Airport Advisory Forum released its first Quarterly Progress report on 19 Jan 2022. It recommended an independent specialist advisor be appointed to review and make recommendations on all aspects considered by the Airservices Australia Post Implementation Review. What is Airservices doing in response to this recommendation?

The QoN response we received on 22 December 2021 (QON 109/21) confirmed Airservices was engaging an independent specialist advisor on airspace design, operations and PIR engagement. Is this advisor additional to the advisor recommended by the Brisbane Airport Advisory Forum?

Answer:

  1. Airservices Australia has appointed Trax International to review and make recommendations on the Brisbane Airport Flight Path Changes Post Implementation Review.
  2. No.

105. Details on the engagement of Trax International

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

On what date was Trax International engaged by AirServices as specialist advisor? How was Trax identified and selected as the preferred consultant? How many other consultants were considered? What are the terms of engagement (length, value of contract)? Has Airservices Australia, the Brisbane Airport Corporation or CASA had any previous engagement or relationship with Trax or key Trax personnel?

Answer:

  1. Trax International (Trax) was engaged by Airservices as a specialist advisor on 20 December 2021.
  2. Airservices made a decision to engage an independent specialist advisor with expertise in aviation regulation, air traffic management, economics, community engagement, noise analysis and aerodrome operations. Airservices considered the limited market for these highly specialised services, along with the need for independence from Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC). Trax, a United Kingdom based company, was identified as best meeting these requirements. Trax brings significant international experience having delivered similar airspace change initiatives at some of the world’s busiest airports, including London’s Heathrow Airport. The value of the contract totals $590,450 (GST exclusive) and includes travel expenses capped at $60,550, for services rendered from 1 January 2022 to 30 April 2022.
  3. Trax have previously been engaged by Airservices to produce a piece of international best practice research focusing on the approach to airspace design and community engagement in other countries and jurisdictions. Trax have confirmed that they have had no previous relationship or engagement with CASA or BAC.

106. Extension of SODPROPS

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Airservices has accepted Forum recommendations to implement a 12 month trial of extending SODPROPS, removing intersection departures and requiring jets to remain on departure paths until they reach 10-12,000 feet. Are you satisfied that these measures will collectively achieve significant noise abatement? What is that view based on? 

Answer: 

Airservices commenced 12-month trials on 24 February 2022 to extend SODPROPS operating hours on weekends between 10pm and 8am, and to remove intersection departures for aircraft departing on the new parallel runway towards residential communities. 

A Noise Abatement Procedure (NAP) requiring jet aircraft to remain on the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) path until reaching 10-12,000 feet will be implemented by 31 March 2022. 

The conduct of the trials will be reported on regularly to determine the success of the measures. 

107. Long-term Operating Plan for Brisbane Airport

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Has Airservices received any Ministerial Direction to prepare a Long-Term Operating Plan for Brisbane Airport? 

Answer: 

No. 

108. Brisbane Airport aircraft noise complaints

Senator Larissa Waters asked

How many complaints and inquiries relating to aircraft noise at Brisbane Airport has the Noise Complaints and Information Services (NCIS) team received since 12 July 2020? Please provide a monthly breakdown of the number of complaints received online, by phone, and by post, and the suburbs in which the complainants live. 

Answer: 

Regarding Brisbane Airport, the Noise Complaints and Information Services (NCIS) received 9,727 complaints and inquiries from 2,175 complainants between 12 July 2020 and 28 February 2022. 

  • Attachment A provides a breakdown by contact method. 
  • Attachment B lists the suburbs in which complainants live. 

Attachment A – Brisbane Airport noise complaints by contact method 

Month Online Phone Letter 
Jul-2020* 230 13 
Aug-2020 826 29 
Sep-2020 786 39 
Oct-2020 658 35 
Nov-2020 451 17 
Dec-2020 658 
Jan-2021 283 
Feb-2021 265 
Mar-2021 542 
Apr-2021 587 
May-2021 680 10 
Jun-2021 455 
Jul-2021 355 
Aug-2021 311 
Sep-2021 517 
Oct-2021 493 
Nov-2021 499 
Dec-2021 285 
Jan-2022 260 
Feb-2022 355 
*since 12 July 2020 

Attachment B – Origin of Brisbane Airport noise complaints 

Acacia Ridge Chermside West MacLeay Island Salisbury 
Albany Creek Clayfield Manly West Samford Valley 
Alexandra Hills Clontarf Mansfield Samford Village 
Algester Closeburn Mcdowall Samsonvale 
Annerley Coorparoo Middle Park Sandgate 
Armstrong Creek Corinda Milton Sandstone Point 
Arundel Cornubia Moggill Scarborough 
Ascot Dayboro Moorooka Seven Hills 
Ashgrove Doolandella Morayfield Sheldon 
Aspley Draper Morningside Sherwood 
Auchenflower East Brisbane Mount Cotton South Brisbane 
Balmoral Eatons Hill Mount Gravatt Springwood 
Banksia Beach Eight Mile Plains Mount Mee St Lucia 
Banyo Ellen Grove Mount Ommaney Stafford 
Bardon Everton Hills Mount Pleasant Stafford Heights 
Bellbowrie Fairfield Mount Samson Sunnybank Hills 
Belmont Ferny Grove Mt Gravatt East Tamborine Mountain 
Birkdale Ferny Hills Murarrie Taringa 
Bongaree Forest Lake New Farm Tarragindi 
Boondall Forestdale Newmarket Teneriffe 
Boronia Heights Fortitude Valley Newstead The Gap 
Bowen Hills Greenbank Norman Park Tingalpa 
Bridgeman Downs Greenslopes North Lakes Toowong 
Brighton Gumdale Northgate Underwood 
Brisbane Hamilton Nudgee Upper Brookfield 
Brisbane City Hawthorne Nudgee Beach Virginia 
Brookfield Heathwood Nundah Wakerley 
Bulimba Hemmant Ocean View Waterford West 
Bunya Hendra Pacific Pines Wavell Heights 
Burbank Heritage Park Paddington Wellington Point 
Caboolture Highgate Hill Pallara West End 
Camp Hill Highvale Park Ridge Westlake 
Camp Mountain Hill End Parkinson Wights Mountain 
Cannon Hill Holland Park Pinjarra Hills Wishart 
Capalaba Indooroopilly Pinkenba Woolloongabba 
Carina Ipswich Pullenvale Woorim 
Carina Heights Kalinga Redcliffe Wynnum 
Carindale Kangaroo Point Regents Park Wynnum West 
Carrara Kenmore Riverhills Yeerongpilly 
Carseldine Kenmore Hills Rochedale Yeronga 
Cedar Creek Kobble Creek Rochedale South 
Chandler Laceys Creek Runcorn 
Chapel Hill Logan Reserve Russel Island 

109. Noise improvement investigations for Brisbane Airport

Senator Larissa Waters asked

How many noise improvement investigations has the NCIS team conducted since 12 July 2020 in response to noise complaints from Brisbane Airport? How many noise improvement investigations relating to Brisbane Airport were referred to the Flight Path Change Process? What were the overall outcomes and impact of the NCIS team’s activities in relation to noise improvement at Brisbane Airport since 12 July 2020? 

Answer: 

The Noise Complaints and Information Service (NCIS) manages complaints and enquiries about aircraft noise and operations. Submissions to the NCIS are not the mechanism for identifying noise improvement opportunities for Brisbane Airport. The Brisbane Airport Flight Path Post Implementation Review (PIR) has been established to investigate noise improvement opportunities and improvement options. 

There have been no noise improvement suggestions submitted to the NCIS for Brisbane Airport to date. 

The NCIS received 9,727 complaints and enquiries from 2,175 complainants relating to Brisbane Airport operations between 12 July 2020 and 28 February 2022. The NCIS has analysed this data to identify the suburbs most affected by the opening of the new runway and the issues raised by complainants (such as time of day, number of flights, flight path, type of operation). This analysis is being considered as part of the PIR to identify noise improvement opportunities. 

110. Removal of SODPROPS at Brisbane Airport

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Further to the answer received to QON #115, what “operational factors” precluded the use of SODPROPS as Mode 1 for Brisbane? Why were these operational factors assessed as significant enough to prevent SODPROPS being used? What was the assessed risk classification of these operational factors? 

Answer: 

The operational factors include tailwind and cross wind limits, aircraft movement numbers and weather conditions. In addition, the interaction with other airspace, in particular Amberley means that the Standard Terminal Arrival Route for SODPROPS cannot be used when Amberley airspace is active. 

The cumulative risk associated with these operational factors made the risk of daytime SODPROPS unacceptable. 

111. Length of time incorrect rule set was applied

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Further to the answer received to QON #116, please confirm that the incorrect rule set was applied only on one 30 minute period? 

Answer: 

Yes. 

112. STAR VNAV profiles major airline correspondence

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Further to the answer received to QON #119, what correspondence has Airservices received from major airlines regarding the efficiency of STAR VNAV profiles (prior to intercepting the glidepath for the assigned instrument approach)? Does Airservices accept that if aircraft are in fact lower and slower on the current STAR VNAV profiles that there would be an increase in noise for residents under the flightpath? What supports that conclusion? 

Answer: 

Airservices has received feedback regarding the efficiency of the Standard Arrival Vertical Navigation (STAR VNAV) profiles. 

The current height requirements on the STARs must be maintained to ensure separation from the Standard Instrument Departure (SID). This may result in aircraft flying lower and slower. 

Answers to Questions on Notice: CASA

119. Brisbane Airport – Routes covered under Airspace Change Proposals

Senator Larissa Waters asked

The Aircraft Noise Ombudsman has stated that Airspace Change Proposals (ACPs) required to implement the new flight paths were approved by CASA on 31 October 2018 and 26 August 2019, however the approval did not cover all existing routes. Is this correct? 

Please provide details of CASA’s final analysis and recommendations regarding the 2018 and 2019 ACP approvals, including any changes or conditions imposed. 

Answer: 

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approved the initial Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) on 29 October 2018. Airservices Australia provided additional information on waypoint and air routes names, which CASA approved on 26 August 2019. 

Existing air routes within Brisbane airspace that were not changing in association with the commencement of the new parallel runway were not included in the approval. 

When reviewing ACPs, CASA considers several components, including: 

  • airspace classification 
  • instrument flight procedure containment 
  • air routes 
  • aviation specific consultation and any potential effect on visual flight rules operations in the Brisbane basin area, as a result of the new parallel runway 
  • air traffic control sectors 
  • class E airspace frequency boundaries, and 
  • flight information areas.

CASA did not impose any conditions with either ACP approval. 

120. Brisbane Airport – List of Airspace Change Proposals received by CASA

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Please provide a list of all ACPs received by CASA since 2019 relating to Brisbane Airport’s airspace, including file number, date received, name of submitting entity, overall objective, CASA outcome (approved / rejected), and the date the outcome was advised to the proponent. 

Answer: 

Please see table below containing all Airspace Change Proposals (ACP) received by CASA since 1 January 2019 relating to Brisbane Airport airspace.

 ACP Ref File Number Date Received Name of Submitting Entity Overall Objective CASA outcome Date Proponent advised of outcome 
021-19 OP19/67 28/02/2019 Airservices Australia Change Brisbane’s control zone to allow helicopters unimpeded access to and from hospitals in the Brisbane CBD Approved 3/05/2019 
031-19 OP19/126 27/04/2019 Airservices Australia Emergency temporary restricted area due to Traffic Information Broadcasts by Aircraft (TIBA) contingency plans at Fraser Group Approved 27/04/2019 
047-19 OP19/273 21/10/2019 Airservices Australia Instrument Flight Rules Waypoint Change to fix occurrences of aircraft flying in an incorrect holding pattern direction for inbound aircraft to Brisbane Approved 24/10/2019 
065-20 OP20/325 12/11/2020 Airservices Australia Amend the boundaries and upper levels of D672 (YBAF training) and D629ABC (YCAB training) to match the base of Class C airspace, correcting oversight associated with the new parallel runway project (also requires D672 to be divided into two areas) Approved 4/12/2020 
050-21 OP21/248 6/08/2021 Dept of Defence Establish a temporary restricted area to support the RAAF Roulettes at Riverfire event Event was cancelled 6/9/21 N/A
058-21OP21/30419/09/2021 Airservices Australia Emergency temporary restricted area due to TIBA contingency plans at Fraser Group Approved19/09/2021
062-21OP21/32130/09/2021Airservices Australia Emergency temporary restricted area due to TIBA contingency plans at Fraser Group Approved30/09/2021
04-22 OP22/15 10/01/2022Airservices Australia Emergency temporary restricted area due to TIBA contingency plans at Fraser Group Approved10/01/2022

121. Brisbane Airport – Airspace Change Proposal stakeholder consultation

Senator Larissa Waters asked

  1. Was CASA satisfied that appropriate stakeholder consultation occurred as part of its assessment of all ACPs? On what basis? 
  2. Did CASA conduct its own consultation or instruct the proponent to conduct additional consultation with regards to these ACPs? 

Answer: 

  1. Yes. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) considered five of the eight Airspace Change Proposals (ACP) were emergency or minor editorial changes that did not require consultation. The three remaining ACPs provided sufficient evidence of consultation. 
  2. Yes, CASA conducted its own consultation on the three ACPs mentioned above in accordance with CASA’s standard ACP processes. 

122. Awareness of Airservices approach at Brisbane Airport

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Further to the answer received to QoN #122, is CASA aware that Airservices used independent approaches at Brisbane Airport for a period of time when the applied standard did not meet the ICAO requirements? What action did CASA take in response to this omission? 

Answer: 

In June 2021, during regular surveillance Airservices Australia advised the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) that Independent Parallel Operations were not used at Brisbane, due to a combination of reduced traffic and incomplete training of controllers in the Brisbane Parallel Runway Monitor Role. 

On 16 July 2021, CASA issued a safety finding for variation from the ICAO requirements, specifically the lack of an appropriate risk assessment for the single person ‘monitor’ position. 

In response to the safety finding, Airservices confirmed Independent Parallel Operations have not commenced at Brisbane. CASA has requested Airservices provide evidence of compliance with ICAO requirements before commencing Independent Parallel Operations at Brisbane. 

Answers to Questions on Notice: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

35. Trax International – Terms of engagement

Senator Larissa Waters asked

Senator WATERS: Noting what you’ve just said, are you aware of how Trax was identified and selected? Mr McClure: Not specifically, no. Senator WATERS: Do you know anything about the terms of engagement, the length and the cost et cetera? Mr McClure: They’re all going to be made public, if they’re not already public. They have been engaged for a period of time. I would have to take the specifics on notice. Airservices could answer the question more specifically. Senator WATERS: I think they are on at 10.30 tonight, so I can’t guarantee that anyone will have the stamina to be asking them in person. If you wouldn’t mind taking that on notice, that would be really helpful. Thank you. 

Answer: 

Please refer to Committee Question Number 105 from the 2021-22 Additional Estimates (SQ22-000249) from Airservices Australia.

Budget Supplementary Estimates 2021 / 2022

📺 Video recording: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications; hearing date: 25 October 2021

Department of Transport interrogated in Senate Estimates

Department of Transport interrogated in Senate Estimates Senator Larissa Waters is holding the Government to account asking the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications questions about the Hon Barnaby Joyce’s so-called “independent community” Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum (BAPAF). Find out more about Senate Estimates: https://bfpca.org.au/estimates/ Find out more about BAPAF: https://bfpca.org.au/bapaf/

Posted by Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance on Monday, 25 October 2021

Answers to Questions on Notice: Airservices

107. Community Engagement operation cost

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

How much does it cost Airservices Australia on an annual basis to operate its Community Engagement team? Please provide figures for the last five financial years, with details for:

  • the Noise Complaints and Information Services (NCIS) team;
  • the Engage Airservices website portal and associated outsourcing costs to the service provider ”Bang The Table / Engagement HQ,” and;
  • any other parts of Airservices’ Community Engagement efforts.

Answer: Total annual operating costs for the Community Engagement team, including staffing costs for the NCIS team, Engage Airservices website, outsourcing costs for the last 5 financial years are listed below: 

Financial year 2017 

  • Total: $1.22 million 
  • NCIS team: $0.68 million 
  • Other Community Engagement staff and supplier costs: $0.54 million 
  • Consultancies: $0 
  • Engage Airservices annual licensing and support fee: $0 

Financial year 2018 

  • Total: $2.32 million 
  • NCIS team: $1.53 million 
  • Other Community Engagement staff and supplier costs: $0.79 million 
  • Consultancies: $0 
  • Engage Airservices annual licensing and support fee: $0 

Financial year 2019 

  • Total: $2.32 million 
  • NCIS team: $1.15 million 
  • Other Community Engagement staff and supplier costs: $0.98 million
  • Consultancies: $0.19 million 
  • Engage Airservices annual licensing and support fee: $0 

Financial year 2020 

  • Total: $2.39 million 
  • NCIS team: $0.92 million 
  • Other Community Engagement staff and supplier costs: $1.43 million 
  • Consultancies: $0 
  • Engage Airservices annual licensing and support fee: $0.04 million (Engage Platform introduced in 2020) 

Financial year 2021 

  • Total: $1.94 million 
  • NCIS team: $0.89 million 
  • Other Community Engagement staff and supplier costs: $0.97 million 
  • Consultancies: $0.04 million 
  • Engage Airservices annual licensing and support fee: $0.04 million 

108. Brisbane Post-Implementation Review – Budget

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

What total budget has been allocated to the Brisbane Post-Implementation Review over the 12-18 months that it will take to complete? How much of this budget is allocated to advertising / promoting the review? What work is being done to promote the review and encourage participation?

Answer: Airservices has not allocated a fixed budget to the Brisbane Post Implementation Review (PIR). This is a business-as-usual activity that is funded as part of regular operations. 

Airservices promotes the PIR and encourages participation through: 

  • its website, including the Engage Airservices platform; 
  • direct alerts to those registered for the Brisbane project; 
  • the offices of federal, state and local elected representatives; 
  • community organisations; 
  • the Brisbane Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group; 
  • Brisbane Airport PIR Advisory Forum; and 
  • media briefings and releases. 

109. Brisbane Post-Implementation Review – Conflict of interest

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

What processes will Airservices implement to ensure the PIR is independent and any conflicts of interest are managed?

Answer: Airservices is applying the following processes to address any perceptions of conflict of interest: 

  • Developing and publishing draft Terms of Reference for the PIR inviting community feedback prior to finalising; 
  • Conducting multiple public community engagement forums in different suburbs of Brisbane which are recorded and published on Airservices Engage Platform; 
  • Engaging an independent specialist advisor with experience working on airspace, flightpath and airport changes overseas, including at both Gatwick and Heathrow, with the remit to review and make improvement recommendations across all aspects of the airspace design, operations and PIR engagement, ensuring the PIR is conducted appropriately and effectively; 
  • Seeking advice and input from the Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum which is an independent, community-oriented forum established by the Australian Government in September 2021; 
  • Conducting community workshops in the first quarter of 2022 to consider options for noise improvements; and 
  • Publishing data, information and PIR documents for external review and feedback. 

110. Brisbane Post-Implementation Review – Scope

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. Why is the 2007 MDP/EIS not included in the scope of the PIR?
  2. Why is the upper airspace high-level route structure not included in the scope of the PIR?
  3. Why is the scope of the PIR limited to noise impacts, rather than other impacts such as potential contamination of tank drinking water?
  4. How will alternatives and trade-offs between competing principles be evaluated and assessed in the PIR?

Answer:

  1. The 2007 EIS/MDP is not an Airservices document. 
  2. The upper airspace high level route structure was unchanged by the New Parallel Runway. 
  3. Air pollution and water quality monitoring is conducted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. 
  4. All proposals suggested by the community and industry will be considered in accordance with Airservices Flight Path Design Principles. Airservices will provide publicly available reports of the assessment of community and industry suggested proposals. 

111. Brisbane Post-Implementation Review – Design principles

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

Airservices’ design principles provide that residential areas overflown by departing aircraft should not also be overflown by arriving aircraft. What rationale is there for this principle not being adopted in relation to the Brisbane Airport flightpaths? Will this be addressed in the PIR?

Answer: Airservices’ Flight Path Design Principles came into effect from 1 October 2020, after completion of the design for the Brisbane New Parallel Runway flight paths.

As part of the Post Implementation Review, the operating modes at Brisbane Airport will be examined based on feedback from the community to determine where flexibility could be applied in operating modes and potential for noise sharing arrangements.

112. Over the Bay Operations – Reported figures

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

In response to QON 111 in Additional Estimates 2020 / 2021 (hearing 22 March 2021), Airservices suggested that: ”For the period 12 July 2020 (opening of new runway) to 31 March 2021, 72 per cent of the arrivals and departures were directed over the bay between 10pm and 6am.”

  1. Now, during normal runway operations, some planes arrive in one direction while planes depart in the other direction, and when the wind changes the directions switch. In short, on average there would be about 50% of planes over the city and 50% of planes over the bay. Is that correct?
  2. Can you confirm that there are currently more flights being directed over the city than before the runway opened?
  3. The over-the-bay figures provided in response to previous Senate estimates QONs purported to represent the percentage of operations / flights, but actually referenced data from the 2006 EIS that represented a percentage of time that a specific operational mode (over the bay vs over the city) is used. How do you reconcile this discrepancy?

Answer:

  1. Yes. 
  2. There are not more flights being directed over the city than before the runway opened. 
  3. The proportion of flights were provided as per the question. 

113. Over the Bay Operations – Actual figures

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

What has been the actual occurrence of SODPROPS and DODPROPS at Brisbane Airport for day time (6am – 10pm) and night time (10pm – 6am) since the runway opened 12 July 2020? Please provide these figures on the basis of the proportion of time (as per Figure 5.2j on page D5-109 of the 2006 EIS).

Answer: SODPROPS, DODPROPS and Reciprocal Runway mode use for the period from 12 July 2020 to 31 October 2021 are show below as a proportion of time. These are the three over the bay operating modes.

PeriodSODPROPSDODPROPSReciprocal Runway
Day (6am to 10pm)9%<1%<1%
Night (10pm to 6am)45%2%1%

114. Over the Bay Operations – Utilisation

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

How will Airservices ensure it achieves the MDP/EIS target to increase overnight over-the-bay (OTB) utilisation to 90%?

Status: Unanswered

115. Removal of SODPROPS

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

The approval of the New Parallel Runway and associated flight paths by the Australian Government in 2007 was based on the 2006 Brisbane Airport MDP/EIS, which stipulates that SODPROPS are to be, ”the preferred mode as it offers the greatest noise abatement.” (3.3.1.1, page D3-33). However, the latest version of the Brisbane Noise Abatement Procedures removes SODROPS as the priority mode during the day.

  1. Why was SODPROPS dropped for daytime operations?
  2. Has Airservices considered whether this represents a ”significant impact” change that should be referred to the Minister for the Environment for advice? If advice was not sought, why not?
  3. What community consultation was undertaken to inform local communities of this major change?
  4. Has any consultation been undertaken with individual operators about increasing downwind limits for SODPROPS departures?
  5. Why is SODROPS used less often as a noise abatement strategy in Brisbane than other major airports?

Answer:

  1. SODPROPS changed from a day to a night time preferred mode during final flight path design in 2018 when a range of operational factors were considered. 
  2. This change was not considered a “significant impact” criteria under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). 
  3. As the change was not considered a “significant impact” no formal consultation was undertaken, however, the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) flight path tool was updated in 2018 following completion of the final design to reflect operations with SODPROPS as a night time mode only. 
  4. Yes. 
  5. The only other major airport in Australia that has parallel runways is Sydney. The use of SODPROPS at Sydney Airport has been between 3-7 per cent during the past ten years. 

116. Safety standards and separation assurance

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. Can Airservices confirm whether its internal ATS Integrity unit made a determination that the separation being applied in utilising independent approaches at Brisbane was that the standards or separation assurance being applied from the time of NPR commissioning were incorrect and their use needed to be terminated?
  2. Given the termination of the independent approach standards or separation assurance (as they were incorrect), for how long did Airservices apply the incorrect standards / separation assurance?

Answer:

  1. Yes.
  2. The independent parallel rule set was incorrectly applied for one 30-minute period in July 2020, however, there was no additional safety risk.

117. Safety Management System requirements

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. Did Airservices comply with its own internal Safety Management System requirements in any changes made to the application of separation standards / separation assurance? Specifically:
  • a. Was an ESIR submitted detailing the incorrect applications of standards / separation assurance?
  • b. Were the correct environmental assessments carried out regarding any potential noise impacts of the change of procedures?
  • c. Was a Temporary Local Instruction issued regarding the changes?
  • d. Were the training impacts assessed for the changes made?
  • e. Was an internal PIR carried out to determine if other errors had been made in the implementation of the NPR airspace changes?

Answer:

  • a. Yes.
  • b. Yes.
  • c. Yes.
  • d. Yes.
  • e. Yes.

118. Brisbane New Parallel Runway airspace design

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. In the initial NPR airspace design: Was the correct vertical separation applied between the lower limit of CTA to the north of Brisbane Airport and underlying Danger areas? Were 3a – 3e above carried out for any changes?

Answer: Yes. No changes were required.

119. Brisbane SID and STARS

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. Have industry concerns raised in 2016 regarding hold/push downs on the proposed SID/STARs for the NPR airspace been addressed?
  • a. Are the current VNAV profiles the most energy efficient for airline operators, and based upon ICAO CDO recommendations?
  • b. Do the current VNAV profiles produce an increase in noise versus airline preferred altitudes due to a lower, slower and hence ”dirtier,” noisier, and higher engine power requirements?
  • c. Has Airservices modelled the increased fuel costs, and hence environmental impact of utilising the current inefficient VNAV profiles? What was the result?

Answer: Yes.

  • a. Yes.
  • b. No.
  • c. No.

120. Conflict of interest management

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

In response to Question on Notice #112 in Additional Estimates 2020 / 2021 (hearing 22 March 2021), Airservices said, ”Our services and supporting infrastructure are funded through customer charges to major domestic, international and regional airlines, charter operators, flight training schools and general aviation operators.”

How does Airservices manage its conflict of interest between its legislated obligations to protect the environment and local communities as per the Air Services Act 1995, and being a commercial, incorporated entity of the government required to support increasing airspace capacity?

Answer: In performing its functions, Airservices complies with the Air Services Act 1995

121. Conflict of interest management – Brisbane

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. It appears Airservices optimised the Brisbane flight path design to maximise Brisbane Airport’s profit at the expense of implementing international best practice noise abatement procedures. Have the following options been considered and, if so, why have they not been adopted?
  • night time curfew
  • total movement cap and/or limit on flights per hour
  • government-funded home insulation program
  • Long Term Operating Plan (LTOP)
  • SODPROPS mandated as top priority during the day and night
  • Flight paths to be concentrated over uninhabited areas
  • Residential areas overflown by departing aircraft are not overflown by arriving aircraft
  • Noise sharing
  • Mandating flight heights
  1. What consultation was undertaken with BAC regarding the economic impacts of various flight path designs?
  2. How is conflict of interest managed in the relationship between Airservices and BAC?

Answer:

  1. Airservices adopts international best practice in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization Balanced Approach to Aircraft Noise Management. Airservices and seeks to locate flight paths over unpopulated areas where possible. The Brisbane New Parallel Runway Flight Paths Post Implementation Review (PIR) will consider any safe and feasible options to further minimise noise impacts on the community.
  2. None. Economic impacts relating to the airport, the new runway and flight paths are a matter for Brisbane Airport Corporation. These were considered in the Environmental Impact Statement and Major Development Plan.
  3. There is no conflict of interest between Airservices and Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC).

Answers to Questions on Notice: CASA

122. Incorrect safety standards / separation assurance – termination

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. Why were the independent approach standards or separation assurance applied at NPR commissioning terminated?
  2. Who made the decision to terminate? When?

Answer: In June 2021, Airservices Australia advised the Civil Aviation Safety Authority during regular surveillance that Independent Parallel Operations were not used at Brisbane. This was due to a combination of reduced traffic and incomplete training of controllers in the Brisbane Parallel Runway Monitor Role. 

123. Incorrect safety standards / separation assurance – Airservices compliance

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. Did CASA ensure that Airservices complied with its internal Safety Management System requirements when changing the separation standards / separation assurance? Specifically:
  • a. Was an ESIR submitted detailing the incorrect applications of standards / separation assurance?
  • b. Were the correct environmental assessments carried out regarding any potential noise impacts of the change of procedures?
  • c. Was a Temporary Local Instruction issued regarding the changes?
  • d. Were the training impacts assessed for the changes made?
  • e. Was an internal PIR carried out to determine if other errors had been made in the implementation of the NPR airspace changes?

Answer: The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) reviewed Airservices Australia’s (Airservices) Implementation Safety Case in April 2020 which addressed application of existing parallel runway standards at Brisbane. CASA raised several issues with Airservices, which were addressed during the review phase. Airservices did not seek and CASA did not approve any variation to separation standards. 

  • a. Two Safety Findings were issued by CASA to Airservices on 16 July 2021 regarding the Safety Assessment process for implementing the separation standards. 
  • b. CASA does not review environmental assessments. 
  • c. Airservices published several Temporary Local Instructions. 
  • d. During surveillance in April 2020, it was noted that training was developed and conducted for the change implementation. A safety finding was issued to Airservices on 16 July 2021 regarding minor deficiencies in the training. 
  • e. In October 2021, Airservices commenced its post implementation review. 

124. Incorrect safety standards / separation assurance – Initial NPR airspace design

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. In the initial NPR airspace design: Was the correct vertical separation applied between the lower limit of CTA to the north of Brisbane Airport and underlying Danger areas? Were 3a – 3e above carried out for any changes?

Answer: There is no applicable separation standard in this case. The Danger Areas (DAs) were resized after the New Parallel Runway (NPR) opening to better align with control area (CTA) for the benefit of DA users. 

  • 3a – No Electronic Safety Incident Report (ESIR) was required. 
  • 3b – CASA is not required to determine if environmental assessments are completed. 
  • 3c – Airservices published several Temporary Local Instructions. 
  • 3d – Yes, the training impact assessment by Airservices was observed by CASA during surveillance in April 2020. 
  • 3e – Airservices commenced a Post Implementation Review (PIR) in October 2021. 

125. Incorrect safety standards / separation assurance – Industry concerns on SID/STARs

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

  1. Have industry concerns raised in 2016 regarding hold/push downs on the proposed SID/STARs for the NPR airspace been addressed?
  • a. Are the current VNAV profiles the most energy efficient for airline operators, and based upon ICAO CDO recommendations?
  • b. Do the current VNAV profiles produce an increase in noise versus airline preferred altitudes due to a lower, slower and hence ”dirtier,” noisier, and higher engine power requirements? What are the safety implications?
  • c. Has CASA assessed the safety implications of utilising the current inefficient VNAV profiles? What was the result?

Answer: The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is not aware of industry concerns regarding Brisbane Airport’s New Parallel Runway Standard Instrument Departures or Standard Instrument Arrivals. 

  • a. The VNAV profiles are standard descent profiles developed in accordance with ICAO PANS-OPS criteria, which is compliant with CASR Part 173 and validated by CASA. 
  • b. Under CASR 173, the procedure designer is required to conduct environmental assessments on instrument flight procedures. There are no safety implications of a shallower descent profile (2.9° vs 3.0°). 
  • c. Yes, the VNAV profiles adhere to the ICAO PANS-OPS design criteria and have been validated as safe by CASA.

Answers to Questions on Notice: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

2. Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum advertisement

Senator Carol Brown asked:

Regarding the attached advertisement, which appeared in the Courier Mail on Saturday, 16 October, 2021, can you please advise:

  • Who approved the placement of this advertisement?
  • Is it standard practise to place an advertisement of this nature in the public notices? Has one ever been placed in a more prominent position within a newspaper?
  • Is this the standard size and placement for advertisements placed by the Department?
  • Can you provide the Committee with examples, including size and placement details of similar advertisement placed by the Department?
  • What else did the Department do to alert the community to the call for submissions?
  • How many responses did the Department receive directly in response to the advertisement?
  • Has the Department received any feedback on the placement of this advertisement? If so, how many and what was the nature of the feedback?

Answer: The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications provides secretariat support functions to the independent Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum (Forum). 

At the Forum’s request, a public notice calling for submissions on the Airservices Australia Post Implementation Review of Brisbane airspace changes was placed in the Courier Mail on Saturday 16 October 2021. The placement of the notice was in line with the Courier Mail’s public notice process. The public notice was not an advertisement by the Department.

Concurrently with the placement of the public notice, the Forum wrote to Federal Members of Parliament in electorates impacted by Brisbane airspace operations and all Senators for Queensland advising of the Forum’s call for submissions, plus notified the community representatives of the existing Brisbane Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group of its invitation for submissions. 

Subsequent advertisements were placed in the Courier Mail and local community newspapers inviting submissions, including advice that the date for submissions had been extended. 

The Forum has received well over 200 submissions to date but does not collect information on whether submissions are in response to any particular communication. 

The Secretariat has not received any feedback on placement of the public notice. 

37. Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum composition

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

Senator WATERS: Thank you. I was simply pointing out that the Deputy Prime Minister has referred to this as an independent community forum, but there are, in fact, no independent community members on it. Perhaps you could table for me who is on the advisory forum and the capacity in which they are on the forum; that would be helpful.

Answer: The members of the independent Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum have experience in public policy and community engagement, or academic expertise in aviation. Under the Terms of Reference, the Forum members are required to consider the views of all communities that may be impacted by, or have an interest in, Brisbane airspace operations. 

The composition of the Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum is: 

  • Mr Ross Musgrove, Chair 
  • The Hon Robert Borbidge AO, Member 
  • Ms Claire Moore, Member 
  • Mr Nigel Chamier AM, Member 
  • Professor Douglas Baker, Member 

Budget Estimates 2021 / 2022

📺 Video recording: Airservices Australia; hearing date: 25 May 2021

Airservices questioned in Senate Estimates

Airservices questioned in Senate Estimates In this round of Senate Estimates (25 May 2021), Airservices were questioned whether the Brisbane airspace design and route structure to the parallel runway fully complies with ICAO safety regulations and separation standards with respect to independent and dependent operations. Airservices was also picked up on the previous answers they supplied confirming they regularly engage consultants for review and advice (at a cost of over $13M over the last 14 months alone), yet no consultants were used by Airservices to review the flight path design work for the parallel runway airspace at Brisbane Airport. Nothing to see here, do move on! Finally, Airservices were asked to explain the stark discrepancies between the original 2006 EIS design principles and promises made to the Brisbane community and the reality of excessive noise pollution now in 2021. Interestingly, Airservices do not seem to be too familiar with their own legislation, such as the “Significant Impact on the Local or Regional Community Guide” 2012 that forms part of the Airports Act 1996. Watch this segment, get angry, and take action: https://bfpca.org.au/take-action/ Video source: https://parlview.aph.gov.au/mediaPlayer.php?videoID=543255

Posted by Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance on Tuesday, 25 May 2021

📺 Video recording: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications; hearing date: 24 May 2021

Department of Transport interrogated in Senate Estimates

Department of Transport interrogated in Senate Estimates The executives of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications responsible for aviation were today summoned and interrogated in Senate Estimates. Listen to what they have to say about the excessive noise pollution experienced by Brisbane communities, about their regulatory responsibilities and oversight over Airservices Australia, and what they are planning on doing about the stark discrepancies between noise forecast modelling and the reality of lived experience in Brisbane. Video source: https://parlview.aph.gov.au/mediaPlayer.php?videoID=543050

Posted by Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance on Monday, 24 May 2021

Answers to Questions on Notice: Airservices

1. COMPLAINTS AND ENQUIRIES – NOISE COMPLAINTS AND INFORMATION SERVICES TEAM

Senator Gerard Rennick asked:

  1. How many staff are in the Noise Complaints and Information Services (NCIS) team, responsible for managing complaints and enquiries about aircraft noise and operations, and where are those staff actually located?
  2. How many complaints and inquiries in total does this NCIS team handle each year, and can you please provide a breakdown of the number and proportion of those complaints received via online, by phone, by post?
  3. How many of these complaints and inquiries relate to aircraft noise at Brisbane Airport, and again, can you please provide a breakdown of the number and proportion of those complaints received via online, by phone, by post?
  4. Has the number and level of community complaints about aircraft noise increased significantly since the second runway became operational at Brisbane Airport in the middle of last year (2020)? a. Can you provide details of the suburbs affected, as indicated by the location of residents who have lodged complaints since the second runway became operational?

Answer:

  1. The NCIS has seven staff located in the NCIS office in Sydney.
  2. The number of contacts handled by the NCIS in 2019, 2020, and in 2021 (to 9 June) are listed below.
    • In 2019, 22,829 contacts were received: 20,610 (90.3%) online; 2,131 (9.3%) by telephone; 48 (0.2%) by post; 40 (0.2%) by other means;
    • In 2020, 18,136 contacts were received: 16,773 (92.5%) online; 1,329 (7.3%) by telephone; 11 (0.1%) by post; 23 (0.1%) by other means; and
    • In 2021 (to 9 June), 12,387 contacts were received: 12,027 (97.1%) online; 349 (2.8%) by telephone; 8 (0.1%) by post; 3 (0.1%) by other means.
  3. The number of contacts handled by the NCIS relating to Brisbane Airport aircraft noise in 2019, 2020, and in 2021 (to 9 June) are listed below.
    • In 2019, 690 contacts were received: 501 (72.6%) online; 188 (27.2%) by telephone; 1 (0.1%) by post;
    • In 2020, 4,014 contacts were received: 3,854 (96.0%) online; 158 (3.9%) by telephone; 1 (0.0%) by post; 1 (0.0%) by other means; and
    • In 2021 (to 9 June), 2,562 contacts were received: 2,528 (98.7%) online; 32 (1.2%) by telephone; (0.1%) by post.
  4. Yes, contacts to the NCIS have increased since the new parallel runway at Brisbane Airport became operational.
    • A list of suburbs from which the NCIS has received noise complaints since the opening of the new runway is provided in Attachment A.

Attachment A – Origin of Brisbane Airport noise complaints

The tables below list suburbs from which the Noise Complaints and Information Services (NCIS) has received noise complaints since the opening of Brisbane Airport’s new runway in July 2020.

Acacia Ridge
Albany Creek
Alexandra Hills
Algester
Annerley
Armstrong Creek
Ascot
Ashgrove
Aspley
Auchenflower
Balmoral
Banksia Beach
Banyo
Bardon
Belmont
Birkdale
Bongaree
Boondall
Bowen Hills
Brighton
Brisbane
Brookfield
Bulimba
Burbank
Camp Hill
Camp Mountain
Cannon Hill
Capalaba
Carina
Carina Heights
Carindale
Carrara
Cedar Creek
Chandler

Chandler
Chapel Hill
Chermside West
Clayfield
Closeburn
Coorparoo
Corinda
Dayboro
Doolandella
East Brisbane
Eatons Hill
Eight Mile Plains
Fairfield
Ferny Hills
Forest Lake
Forestdale
Fortitude Valley
Greenbank
Greenslopes
Gumdale
Hamilton
Hawthorne
Heathwood
Hemmant
Hendra
Heritage Park
Highgate Hill
Highvale
Hill End
Holland Park
Indooroopilly
Ipswich
Kangaroo Point
Kenmore
Kenmore Hills

Kenmore Hills
Kobble Creek
Laceys Creek
Logan Reserve
MacLeay Island
Manly West
Mansfield
McDowall
Middle Park
Milton
Moggill
Moorooka
Morningside
Mount Cotton
Mount Mee
Mount Ommaney
Mount Samson
Murarrie
New Farm
Newmarket
Newstead
Norman Park
Northgate
Nudgee Beach
Nundah
Ocean View
Paddington
Pallara
Parkinson
Pinjarra Hills
Pinkenba
Pullenvale
Redcliffe
Regents Park
Riverhills

Riverhills
Rochedale
Runcorn
Samford
Samford Valley
Samford Village
Samsonvale
Seven Hills
Sheldon
Sherwood
Springwood
St Lucia
Sunnybank Hills
Taringa
Tarragindi
Teneriffe
The Gap
Tingalpa
Toowong
Upper Brookfield
Virginia
Wakerley
Wavell Heights
Wellington Point
West End
Westlake
Wights Mountain
Wishart
Woolloongabba
Woorim
Wynnum
Wynnum West
Yeerongpilly
Yeronga

2. COMPLAINT RESPONSES – NOISE COMPLAINTS AND INFORMATION SERVICES TEAM

Senator Gerard Rennick asked:

  1. Does every complaint received by AirServices Australia receive an individual response?
  2. Do you count and report the total number of complaints received, or just the number of complainants who lodge complaints?
  3. What is the process you follow when multiple complaints are received from the same person, in relation to multiple instances of aircraft noise disturbance?
  4. Do you have a protocol in place whereby someone who lodges more than one complaint in a month only receives one response per month?
  5. How many complainants have lodged more than one complaint in a month, but only received one response? How do you justify this approach?
  6. Are you aware that AirServices Australia has sometimes sent members of the community correspondence with the generic signature block highlighted but without the responding officer’s name and position filled in? Is this protocol? Doesn’t this reflect a lack of care and attention in terms of how noise complaints are handled by AirServices Australia?

Answer:

  1. Yes, every initial complaint receives a response. However, if a complainant writes to Airservices
    Australia (Airservices) again with the same complaint and there is no new or further information
    available, Airservices will advise the complainant of this and also, that future contact on the particular
    matter may not receive a response. Airservices does not respond to anonymous complaints.
  2. All complaints made to the Airservices Noise Complaints and Information Service (NCIS) are
    captured in the NCIS database. Airservices reports on the number of complainants and issues
    raised each month; not the number of complaints. This enables Airservices to identify where
    aircraft operations are affecting multiple people in a community, as opposed to an individual
    who may submit multiple complaints about that same operation.
  3. The NCIS process depends on the nature of the multiple complaints.
    • If a complainant makes multiple contacts over a short period and raises a concern that is still under investigation, the NCIS will advise the complainant that they do not need to make multiple complaints and that their complaint is being investigated.
    • If the NCIS has previously responded to the complainant regarding the same issue and no new or further information is available, the NCIS will advise the complainant of this and that future contact on this matter will not be responded to.
    • Each contact from a complainant is recorded and counted in monthly complainant data.
  4. No.
  5. See the answer at 3.
  6. The NCIS does not send responses without a first name and position title in the signature block. If this has occurred it is in error. The NCIS database is also used to send alerts about new projects to relevant community members. In this case, no officer’s name is included.

For further information on Airservices complaints process, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions at: https://www.airservicesaustralia.com/community/environment/aircraft-noise/about-making-a-complaint/

31. NCIS TEAM – COMPLAINTS AND INQUIRIES

Senator Gerard Rennick asked:

Senator RENNICK: Thank you. How many complaints and inquiries in total does the NCIS team handle each year? Can you please provide a breakdown on the number and proportion of those complaints received online, by phone or by post? Mr Harfield: We will take that on notice. Senator RENNICK: You are welcome to. How many of these complaints and inquiries relate to aircraft noise at Brisbane airport? Again, can you please provide a breakdown of the number and proportion of those complaints received online, by phone and by post? Mr Curran: We’ll certainly take them on notice to give you the breakdown. I can give you a feel for that now, if that is helpful. Senator RENNICK: No worries. Has the number and level of community complaints about aircraft noise increased significantly since the second runway became operational at Brisbane airport in the middle of last year? If so, could you please provide details of the suburbs affected, as indicated by the location of residents who have lodged complaints since the second runway became operational? Do you want to take that on notice? Mr Harfield: We can say yes to the first part of that question. We’ll provide the suburbs. Senator RENNICK: Great. Does every complaint received by Airservices Australia receive an individual response? Do you count the total number of complaints received or just the number of complaints and who lodged them? What is the process you follow when multiple complaints are received from the same person? Do you have a protocol in place where someone who lodges more than one complaint in a month only receives one response per month? Mr Harfield: We’ll provide you with the protocols on that. There is a range of things. For example, if it is a complainant complaining about exactly the same thing multiple times, we treat that as one complaint. However, if that one complainant complains about two different events, they will be treated as that. We will provide that protocol. Senator RENNICK: No worries. I will put these on notice for you as well. Thank you.

Answer: Please refer to Committee Question Numbers 1 and 2 from the Rural & Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee 2021-2022 Budget Estimates hearing.

32. BRISBANE AIRSPACE DESIGN

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Senator RICE: I want to go to issues with Brisbane airspace design and the use of dependent separation approaches in Brisbane’s airspace design. What can Airservices Australia say about whether the use of dependent separation approaches is compliant with ICAO standards? Mr Harfield: I will ask Mr Curran to answer those questions if he can. Mr Curran: If I may, I would like to take that on notice with regard to the ICAO compliance. Senator RICE: Have you done any review of whether it is compliant with the ICAO standards? Mr Curran: As a part of the process to implement the Brisbane new parallel runway, there was both a design and an implementation safety analysis undertaken. It was to assess the safety of the design and whether it could be implemented safely. It was committed to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for endorsement. Whether that actually directly linked to ICAO I would have to take on notice.

Answer: There are two types of dependent separation approaches used for the parallel runways at Brisbane Airport – dependent parallel visual approaches and dependent parallel instrument approaches. There are no International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for dependent parallel visual approaches. Australia’s dependent visual parallel runway approach standards are set by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and implemented by Airservices Australia (Airservices).

There are ICAO standards for dependent parallel instrument approaches and Airservices can confirm compliance with these standards. The dependent parallel instrument approach standards were reviewed following a change by ICAO in 2018 and updated in February 2020.

33. STAR OPTION AT BRISBANE AIRPORT

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Senator RICE: In response to another question you said that Airservices did not engage another air navigation service provider to review the closed STAR option at Brisbane Airport and that no consultants were used by Airservices Australia in the flight path design work for the parallel runway airspace. Can you tell me why you did those two design changes without independent review from external experts? Mr Curran: I’ll have to take that one on notice. I think the plain answer is that we have the competency and capability in-house and we’re able to undertake the work ourselves.

Answer: Airservices Australia (Airservices) is Australia’s air navigation service provider, delivering world-leading services to manage the safe, orderly flow of aircraft into and out of Australia’s airspace.

Airservices has the competency, skill and experience to undertake flight path design work for parallel runway airspace, as recognised by the the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR) Part 173 Provider Certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

34. AIRSPACE DESIGN FOR BRISBANE

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Senator RICE: In answer to another question you said that Airservices did not engage the UK NATS to review airspace design models at Brisbane. However, the Brisbane Airport Corporation did and Airservices Australia designs the flight paths and develops procedures and modes of operation. Are you confident with what the private operator of the airport did in terms of conducting that review into Airservices Australia’s airspace design for Brisbane? Mr Harfield: Yes. Senator RICE: There’s no conflict of interest there? Mr Harfield: It’s not uncommon for the airport to engage someone to look at how the airport should be run more efficiently. At Perth, for example, when we had significant delays back in around 2007 with the mining boom, UK NATS were brought in to check runway occupancy times to improve the operation of the airport, so it’s not uncommon. Senator RICE: I presume you were provided with the outcome of that UK NATS review? Mr Curran: I’ll take that one on notice; I’m quite not sure. In the normal course of events, yes, there would be a healthy exchange in a potentially robust engagement around the different views. Senator RICE: Can you also then take on notice what issues or concerns were raised in that review and how they were resolved? Mr Curran: Yes.

Answer: Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) engaged United Kingdom National Air Traffic Service (UK NATS) to review airspace design for Brisbane.

UK NATS made two presentations to BAC on the findings of their review of the Brisbane airspace design.
Airservices Australia attended these presentations as an observer. Questions related to the issues raised by UK NATS are a matter for BAC.

35. SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE LOCAL OR REGIONAL COMMUNITY GUIDE

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Senator RICE: Following the release of the Australian government’s national aviation policy white paper in 2009 there was the launch of the Significant Impact on the Local or Regional Community Guide, which now forms part of the Airports Act. You are familiar with that? Mr Curran: I would have to take that on notice. Senator RICE: It’s a pretty critical thing to be aware of if you are concerned about air noise and impacts on local communities. Mr Curran: I am aware of it. Senator RICE: Then why do you need to take it on notice? Mr Curran: I am aware of it. Senator RICE: This document is sometimes also referred to as the trigger guide. It says: “Impacts may result from one element of a proposed development rather than the development as a whole. Intermittent and cumulative effects need to be considered and if the proposed development is to be undertaken in stages over a period of time, the impacts of the development once completed need to be considered, even if the potential impacts will not be evident in the first instance.” Do you agree that the changes that the residents have experienced since the airport was opened are so significant as to constitute a trigger for the major development plan and the EIS to be revised and reviewed as per those guidelines? Mr Curran: I’d want to familiarise myself with the guidelines specifically before I answer that question, so I will have to take it on notice. Senator RICE: Okay…

Answer: Questions about requirements under the Airports Act 1996 and Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including the requirement for reviews or revisions of a Major Development Plan (MDP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) processes, are matters for the airport operator, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

179. BRISBANE NEW PARALLEL RUNWAYS – DESIGN PHASE

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Airservices suggests in response to Committee Question Number 106 that it, “considered: point merge; open standard instrument departure (SID); standard arrival route (STAR); and closed SID/STAR options as part of the system design phase for Brisbane New Parallel Runways.” – Why was a closed STAR design selected when Airservices advocates the Point Merge system as a superior option in the Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement? There, it says: “Point Merge provides a simple, predictable and standardised procedure for sequencing aircraft arrivals that can reduce noise impacts compared to alternative arrival management systems…” (Source: Western Sydney Airport Environmental Impact Statement Volume 1 Chapter 7, page 249)

Answer: Airservices conducted a quantitative and qualititative assessment of Closed Standard Arrival Route (STAR), Open STAR, and Point Merge options for Brisbane airspace against a range of criteria including safety, environment (this includes noise footprints and compliance with the approved Environmental Impact Statement), air traffic management, capacity and efficiency. The Closed STAR model ranked the highest and was selected as the preferred design for Brisbane Airport.

180. BRISBANE AIRPORT – CHANGES TO FLIGHT PATHS

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Airservices’ “Commitment to Community Engagement” document states, “We are committed to clear, proactive, inclusive, accessible, responsive, transparent engagement with communities who may be affected by proposed changes to flight paths and airspace.” Does Airservices Australia believe it has communicated with Brisbane residents in a “clear, proactive, inclusive, accessible, responsive” transparent manner in accordance with the “Commitment to Community Engagement”?

  • What dates was that communication provided?
  • How did Airservices Australia ensure that it met that standards set out in the Commitment to Community Engagement?

Answer: Airservices Australia (Airservices) introduced the Commitment to Community Engagement in August 2020 to provide clarity to the community and a clear statement of commitment on how it conducts engagement on flight path changes.

Airservices supported Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) in the delivery of the community engagement
program for the NPR. Engagement was conducted over three main phases from 2005 and is ongoing. The three main phases were:

  • Phase 1 (2005 to 2007): BAC conducted a 22-month long public engagement program on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Major Development Plan (MDP). Engagement specifically on these documents occurred between 31 October 2006 and 2 February 2007.
  • Phase 2 (2007 to 2018): focused on public education and awareness of the new runway and flight paths based on the indicative flight paths approved through the EIS.
  • Phase 3 (2018 to 2020): followed completion of detailed design and provided updated flight path design and operational information.

306. AIRCRAFT NOISE OMBUDSMAN

Senator Glenn Sterle asked:

  1. Please provide a breakdown of total complaints received by the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman regarding Brisbane Airport over the past 12 months.
  2. Please provide the same information for each of the last four 12-month periods.

Answer:

  1. In the 2020-21 financial year, the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) received a total of 377
    complaints identified as related to Brisbane Airport operations. Of these complaints, 30 per cent were referred to Airservices Australia (Airservices) without ANO review, as the complainant had either not contacted Airservices or had yet to receive a response.
  2. From the 2019-20 financial year, the ANO Quarterly Report has incorporated complaint statistics by airport. Data for the previous 5 financial years is shown below:
Financial yearTotal complaints – Brisbane Airport
2016-174
2017-186
2018-193
2019-206
2020-21377

Answers to Questions on Notice: CASA

181. REGULATORY AUTHORITY OVERSEEING AIRSERVICES

Senator Janet Rice asked:

In response to Committee Question Number 112, Airservices Australia said that it is regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

  1. As its regulator, has Airservices informed CASA about (i) any internally raised safety concerns with regards to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) safety standards not having been applied correctly to the Brisbane airspace design, and; (ii) any Airservices’ internal investigation into such safety concerns employing their in-house operational integrity and standards specialists? What has Airservices reported to CASA?
  2. As the regulatory authority overseeing Airservices, what has been CASA’s response?
  3. In response to Committee Question Number 101, Airservices confirmed that, “Airservices did not engage another air navigation service provider to review the closed STAR option [at Brisbane Airport].” And further in response to Committee Question Number 105, Airservices stated, “No consultants were used by Airservices Australia in the Flight Path Design work for the parallel runway airspace [at Brisbane Airport].” – Considering the common practice by Airservices to engage external and independent “air navigation service providers on parallel runway systems and parallel runway operations from a number of countries including the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, France, United States of America and Canada” (Airservices’ answer to Committee Question Number 103), why was Brisbane’s airspace designed without independent review from external experts when others have been? As the regulatory body overseeing Airservices, why did CASA not insist on Airservices engaging external and independent peer reviewers considering the calibre and scale of this project and its long-term impact on Australia’s third largest city?
  4. Did CASA conduct any of its own reviews of Airservices’ design for Brisbane’s airspace before it was finalised and launched? And if so, were any issues or flaws identified – either with regards to ICAO safety standards, or with regards to the stark imbalance between maximising capacity whilst minimising noise abatement outcomes for local communities?

Answer:

  1. (i) No safety concerns have been raised. (ii) As no safety concerns have been raised, no reports to CASA were required.
  2. Not applicable.
  3. CASA assesses an airspace proposal in accordance with the Airspace Act 2007 and is not required to recommend an independent review, nor considered it necessary.
  4. CASA was regularly engaged during the airspace design process to ensure the outcome was fit for purpose, safe and compliant with airspace regulations. CASA was satisfied with the aviation safety aspects of the proposed change. CASA was not involved in approvals or conditions related to flight path noise. Airservices Australia is responsible for considering noise outcomes from flight path designs.

182. NATIONAL AVIATION POLICY WHITE PAPER

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Following the release of the Australian Government’s National Aviation Policy White Paper in December 2009, the “Significant Impact on the Local or Regional Community Guide” was launched in January 2012, which now forms part of the Airports Act 1996 s89(1)(na).

  1. How does CASA ensure the Significant Impact on the Local or Regional Community Guide is incorporated into its regulatory approach?
  2. This document is sometimes also referred to as the “Trigger” guide. It says, “Impacts may result from one element of a proposed development rather than the development as a whole. Intermittent and cumulative effects need to be considered and if the proposed development is to be undertaken in stages over a period of time, the impacts of the development once completed need to be considered, even if the potential impacts will not be evident in the first instance.” (page 5). Considering the substantial changes that Airservices have implemented in the final airspace design, mode of operation, and noise abatement procedures for Brisbane, does CASA believe these changes constitute a trigger requiring the MDP and EIS to be revised and renewed as per these guidelines?

Answer: CASA is responsible for assessing the safety of avation at and around airports for any airspace change proposal. Questions relating to Major Development Plans and Environmental Impact Statements are a matter for the airport operator, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

183. REGULATORY MANAGEMENT

Senator Janet Rice asked:

Airservices Australia appears to have a stake in (i) the design of aviation airspace management regimes (flight paths) and airspace classification; (ii) levying of Navigation Charges and Rescue Firefighting Services to airlines, and; (iii) providing the Noise Complaints and Information Service [NCIS]. To what extent does CASA carry out regulatory oversight over Airservices Australia’s operations and performance, and how does CASA manage and regulate Airservices’ conflict of interest between being a commercial, incorporated entity of the government required to support increasing airspace capacity, and looking after local communities across Australia affected by aircraft noise?

Answer: The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) conducts regular surveillance of Airservices Australia (Airservices) to ensure they are meeting regulatory requirements under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 and are compliant with the operating certificates issued by CASA. In addition to regular surveillance, CASA also conducts out of schedule surveillance events in response to any regulatory matters or aviation safety concerns.

The Office of Airspace Regulation was established in 2007 to separate the functions of a regulator from the service provider. CASA must ensure that any airspace changes are managed in accordance with the Airspace Act 2007 although this excludes the regulatory responsibility for aircraft noise. Aircraft noise complaints are managed directly by Airservices and the Department of Defence, with oversight by the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman.

Answers to Questions on Notice: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

176. BRISBANE AIRPORT NOISE

Senator Janet Rice asked:

The 2007 Conditions of Ministerial Approval of Brisbane Airport Corporation’s New Parallel Runway entail specific conditions about keeping the community informed (18) including “measures that will ensure the community is kept informed of […] changes to any air traffic control departure and arrival procedures.” The 2006 Environmental Impact Statement originally promised Brisbane residents that:

  1. New flight paths or existing flight path changes to occur over water where possible, especially where aircraft are below 5,000 ft.
  2. Where it is not possible for new flight paths to be over water, flight paths to be concentrated over uninhabited areas where possible.
  3. If flight paths over residential areas are necessary, then residential areas overflown by aircraft to be minimised to the extent practicable.
  4. Residential areas overflown by departing aircraft should not to the extent practicable also be overflown by arriving aircraft.

However, Airservices has failed on all four accounts: Since the launch of the new runway on 12 July 2020 to now (23 May 2021), the runway statistics indicate that Over-the-Bay operations (called SODPROPS) have been nonexistent during the day (6am – 10pm) and only 12 percentage points better at night (10pm – 6am). So even during the night, nearly a third of flights continue to fly over Brisbane residential homes and families between 10pm and 6am. Flight paths have been concentrated over not just inhabited but in fact some of Australia’s most densely populated residential areas. And, the same Brisbane residential areas overflown by departing aircraft on flight path I are also overflown by arriving aircraft on flight paths G, H1, and H2. Not only has Airservices broken all the original commitments and promises made to the community in 2006, it has also entirely removed SODPROPS from the “Preferred Runway Operations Top Priority” spot for daytime operations between 6am and 10pm in its final release of the Brisbane Airport noise abatement procedures released 21 May 2020.

Considering these significant and major changes to these air traffic control departure and arrival procedures, what measures – as stipulated in the 2007 Conditions of Ministerial Approval – did the Department require from Airservices and Brisbane Airport Corporation to ensure the community is kept informed of these changes?

Answer:

As the proponent of the New Parallel Runway Major Development Plan, the Ministerial approval conditions were placed on the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) and not Airservices Australia.

Condition 17 of the 2007 Conditions of Ministerial Approval of Brisbane Airport Corporation’s (BAC) New Parallel Runway Major Development Plan required BAC to develop and implement a strategy to keep the community informed on the development of the New Parallel Runway (NPR) as it proceeded.

Condition18(b)(i) required the community be kept informed of aircraft noise impacts associated with existing aircraft operations at the airport on the existing runway during the construction phase of the NPR.

Paragraph 18(b)(2) required BAC to establish a community awareness program that included information on the airport operating plan as approved by CASA and flight paths, at least one year prior to operations commencing on the NPR.

Compliance with the 2007 Conditions of Ministerial Approval was monitored through Condition 26, which required BAC to submit an annual progress report to the relevant Minister, including implementation of the public engagement strategy.

BAC and Airservices are members of the Brisbane Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group, a consultative forum designed to bring together government, the aviation industry, and the community to discuss a range of topics including aircraft noise, airport developments, airport operations and terminal access.

BAC also holds forums in affected suburbs and have a mobile information that travels around. Their community engagement team can be booked to attend meetings, town fairs and other community events.

Airservices will be undertaking a Post-Implementation Review (PIR) of Brisbane Airport operations from July 2021. The PIR will examine procedures for runway modes and noise abatement at Brisbane Airport to identify safe and practical operational improvements.


Additional Estimates 2020 / 2021

📺 Video recording: Airservices Australia; hearing date: 22 March 2021

CEO of Airservices interrogated in Senate Estimates

As part of Senate Estimates today 22 March 2021, Jason Harfield, CEO of Airservices Australia, was asked a number of pertinent questions originally posed by the Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance (BFPCA) about the airspace design work that is now causing excessive and unreasonable noise pollution from Brisbane Airport’s flight paths. Listen to what Mr Harfield has to say in this video, yet many of the important questions were taken on notice. BFPCA is grateful to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport for asking these questions and starting to hold Airservices Australia to account. BFPCA also thank the offices of Terri Butler MP, Senator Anthony Chisholm, Senator Janet Rice, Senator Larissa Waters for their support in tabling these questions to the Senate Standing Committee. If you experience noise pollution in Brisbane, visit https://bfpca.org.au to take action. Video source: Official recording of Senate Committee Proceedings from the Australian Parliament available at https://parlview.aph.gov.au/mediaPlayer.php?videoID=536737

Posted by Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance on Sunday, 21 March 2021

See also the related item on our news page: “CEO of Airservices interrogated in Senate Estimates

Answers to Questions on Notice

101. Brisbane STARs

Senator Anthony Chisholm asked

Senator CHISHOLM: I have some questions around Brisbane and the new runway. When did Airservices Australia commence, and then finalise, the standard terminal arrival route and the standard departure design for the new parallel runway integration into the Brisbane basin air space? Mr Harfield: I have to take the specifics on notice, but the finalisation of it would probably have been about 12 months before the opening of the runway, which would have been mid-last year. You are probably talking about around 2018-19. I will correct that if it is not correct. Senator CHISHOLM: When was the decision made to adopt a closed STAR model in preference to an open STAR model, utilising radar vectoring to final approach with a dedicated director position? Mr Harfield: I have to take it on notice for specifics. Senator CHISHOLM: I presume it was in that same time period. Mr Harfield: That may have been earlier, because it’s one of the design principles—across the country, in introducing standard terminal arrival routes, we tried to go, where we possibly can, to closed STARs. The only place that doesn’t—that has open STARs—is Sydney airport. Senator CHISHOLM: Was the closed STAR model peer reviewed by another airline navigation service provider? If so, when, and was it after or before the adopted model was selected? Mr Harfield: As I said, closed STARs has been a design philosophy that we’ve had in the air space since standard terminal arrival routes were introduced in the mid-1990s. With regard to Brisbane, I would have to take that on notice.

Answer: Airservices commenced the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) and Standard Terminal Arrival Route (STAR) design in May 2016 and it was finalised in February 2020. A decision was made in May 2016 to proceed with a closed STAR design. Airservices did not engage another air navigation service provider to review the closed STAR option.

103. Research into airspace design models

Senator Anthony Chisholm asked

Senator CHISHOLM: What research was conducted amongst other airline navigation service providers about the air space design models for independent and dependent parallel runways? Mr Harfield: I have to take that on notice. We have had the United Kingdom’s National Air Traffic Services come and review them from time to time, but I would have to take it on notice for specifics. 

Answer: Airservices Australia has conducted research and engaged air navigation service providers on parallel runway systems and parallel runway operations from a number of countries including the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, France, United States of America and Canada.

104. Brisbane Airport Corporation input

Senator Anthony Chisholm asked

Senator CHISHOLM: What input did the Brisbane Airport Corporation provide as far as a preferred model of operation for the use of parallel runways? Mr Harfield: I have to take that on notice to go back. Having parallel runways has been around for Brisbane for 20 years, so that sort of decision was made at that stage. The difference between dependent and independent parallel runways is the distance between the runways and how they operate. When they are a certain distance apart, such as in Sydney, where they’re only about just over a kilometre apart, they have to be operated in what we call a ‘dependent mode’, which means that they are treated as one runway: if you have aircraft on final, you have to stagger them—even though, technically, they are on different runways—because the runways are treated as one. When they are independent, you can operate them as two separate runways. That’s the difference between ‘dependent’ and ‘independent’. So I would have to go back and check, because that’s not a recent decision.

Answer: Brisbane Airport Corporation determined the location, orientation and mode of operation of their parallel runways through their Master Planning and Major Development Plan process.

105. Brisbane Airspace Design Consultants

Senator Anthony Chisholm asked

Senator CHISHOLM: Were consultants used by Airservices Australia in the design of the parallel runway airspace, and, if so, were any of the consultants recent Airservices Australia employees? Mr Harfield: I would have to take that on notice. 

Answer: No consultants were used by Airservices Australia in the Flight Path Design work for the parallel runway airspace.

106. Brisbane parallel runway airspace options

Senator Anthony Chisholm asked

Senator CHISHOLM: Were other options considered for the parallel runway airspace design? Mr Harfield: There most likely would have been, but I’d have to go back and take on notice what considerations were made, and when, to end up with the final model. 

Answer: Airservices considered: point merge; open standard instrument departure (SID); standard arrival route (STAR); and closed SID/STAR options as part of the system design phase for Brisbane New Parallel Runways.

107. Brisbane over the bay flights

Senator Anthony Chisholm asked

Senator CHISHOLM: I also have some operational performance questions. What proportion of flights in the 10 pm to 6 am overnight period—this is in regard to Brisbane—have been directed over the bay since the new runway was opened? 

Answer: For the period 12 July 2020 (when the new runway opened) to 31 March 2021, 72 per cent of arrivals and departures between 10 pm and 6 am were directed over the bay.

111. Operational Performance

Senator Anthony Chisholm asked:

  1. What proportion of flights in the 10pm – 6am overnight period have been directed over the bay since runway opening, and what was the proportion forecast in the 2006 draft Environmental Impact Statement?
  2. What was the average number of daily flight events at or above 70 decibels at the New Farm, Bulimba, and Hamilton noise monitoring stations in December 2020, and what was the forecast count at each location in the 2006 draft Environmental Impact Statement?
  3. How many more overflights are forecast at these locations on return to normal post-COVID operations? Does this include turbo props?
  4. Why is there such a significant difference between actual daily flight events at or above 70 decibels at the New Farm noise monitoring station compared to the forecasts published on the BAC Flight Path Tool?
  5. What compulsory noise abatement procedures apply at Brisbane airport? Does this also apply to turbo props?
  6. Do Airservices have powers to penalise non-compliance to aircraft noise abatement procedures and standards?

Answer:

  1. For the period 12 July 2020 (opening of new runway) to 31 March 2021, 72 per cent of the arrivals and departures were directed over the bay between 10pm and 6am.

    Brisbane Airport Corporation’s 2006 draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) provided the following forecast for proportion of over the bay operations at night (10am-6pm) [sic]:

    2015:
    Summer weekday night 73 per cent
    Summer weekend night 79 per cent
    Winter weekday night 78 per cent
    Winter weekend night 82 per cent

    2035:
    Summer weekday night 62 per cent
    Summer weekend night 72 per cent
    Winter weekday night 67 per cent
    Winter weekend night 70 per cent
  2. The average number of daily flight events at or above 70 decibels (dBA) at the New Farm, Bulimba, and Hamilton noise monitoring stations in December 2020 on a weekday between 6am and 6pm (to be consistent with EIS parameters) were:

    · New Farm – 22
    · Bulimba – 43
    · Hamilton – 69

    The forecast count of average daily flight events (jet and turbo prop) at or above 70dBA in 2006 draft EIS (based on N70 modelling):

    · Summer weekday day (6am-6pm) in 2015: Hamilton 50+, Bulimba 20-49, New Farm 5-9
    · Summer weekday day (6am-6pm) in 2035: Hamilton 50+, Bulimba 20-49, New Farm 5-19

    New Farm has experienced a higher than projected volume of movements due to the impact of COVID-19 on Brisbane Airport runway operations.
  3. As at 8 April 2021, Brisbane Airport was at 55 per cent of pre COVID movements. New Farm, Bulimba and Hamilton are experiencing the following number of jet aircraft movements on any given day:

    · Northerly Winds (Arrivals): An average of 34 jets per 24 hours
    · Southerly Winds (Departures): An average of 26 jets per 24 hours.

    When operations recover, New Farm, Bulimba and Hamilton can expect to receive the following number of jet aircraft movements on any given day:

    · Northerly Winds (Arrivals): An average of 49 jets per 24 hrs
    · Southerly Winds (Departures): An average of 45 jets per 24 hours.

    This does not include turbo prop aircraft as these aircraft can fly instrument flight paths or use a visual approach.
  4. COVID-19 has resulted in operations at Brisbane Airport that are different to what would be experienced under full parallel runway operating conditions. Until the industry returns to stabilised levels of operations, we are not able to accurately assess the actual noise impacts compared to the modelled projections.

    The New Farm noise monitor is located on the edge of New Farm Park next to the Brisbane River. Aircraft track over the river in this location to avoid flying directly over houses. As the noise monitor is next to the River, it records noise levels higher than would be experienced in the centre of New Farm.

    The Brisbane Airport Corporation flight path tool “20 event N70 contour” includes the Brisbane River in this location and the line stops just short of the edge of New Farm Park where the noise monitor is located. Given the proximity of the noise monitor to the BAC “20 event N70 contour”, the current average noise events being reported on WebTrak is considered consistent with the BAC modelling.
  5. Brisbane Airport has a range of Noise Abatement Procedures (NAPs) in place and some of these apply to turbo props. Noise abatement procedures are not compulsory at Brisbane Airport.
  6. Airservices has no regulatory or enforcement powers. Air traffic control applies NAPs unless it is unsafe to do so.

112. Australian Noise Exposure Forecasts

Senator Larissa Waters asked

1. Who provides regulatory oversight to ensure that airport operations conform to the Australian Noise Exposure Forecasts (ANEF) required as part of airport master plans and Major Development Plans (MDP)?

Answer: The regulatory requirement for Australian Noise Exposure Forecasts (ANEFs) is set out in the Airports Act 1996 (the Airports Act) which is administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. 

2. What happens when airport operations do not conform to their Australian Noise Exposure Forecasts (ANEF) as part of their airport master plans and Major Development Plans (MDP)?

Answer: The ANEF depicts future noise exposure and is built from assumptions around future operational levels usually 20 or more years in the future. To ensure that assumptions remain relevant, ANEFs are updated every 5 years for federally leased airports with the Australian Noise Exposure Index (ANEI) used as a baseline which measures actual noise exposure on a calendar year basis. 

3. Airservices considers a number of assumptions and inputs when conducting technical endorsements of ANEFs as stipulated in the ‘manner of endorsement’ document approved by the former Minister of Infrastructure and Transport in April 2017. As part of its technical endorsement of Brisbane Airport’s ANEF, can you confirm: 

  • That the appropriate selection of aircraft types for the airport have been used as input data? 
  • That the runway usage and flight path data used as an input to the model are ‘operationally suitable for the airport’? 
  • That the forecast numbers of aircraft movements, operating times and the aircraft types carrying out operations are not greater than the physical ultimate capacity of the existing or proposed runway/s, using accepted and published methodologies? 
  • That the contours have been modelled correctly? 
  • That the proponent has demonstrated they have paid ‘due regard’ to all issues raised by state and local government authorities in relation to the ANEF? 

Answer: Airservices Australia endorsed Brisbane Airport’s ANEF (Brisbane Airport Ultimate Practical Capacity ANEF) on 8 May 2019 in accordance with the ‘manner of endorsement’ document approved by the former Minister of Infrastructure and Transport.

4. Did Airservices consider any other relevant matters when you decided to endorse and approve Brisbane Airport’s ANEF?

Answer: No.

5. Considering Airservices provided technical endorsement and approval of Brisbane Airport’s ANEF, how do you explain the significant discrepancy between the noise exposure levels forecast by Brisbane Airport’s ANEF and the reality and lived experience of Brisbane residents as documented by both (i) Airservices’ own Noise and Flight Path Monitoring System (NFPMS) and (ii) the large volume of complaints received by Airservices’ Noise Complaints and Information Service (NCIS) and the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO)?

Answer: The ANEF is a land use planning tool derived from future predicted operational levels. There will always be a difference between the theoretical modelling and measured results.

6. Submission #44 by Dr Eric Ancich has been tabled to the Senate Finance & Public Administration References Committee relating to the Planning, Construction & Management of the Western Sydney Airport project. The submission reads:

In March 2019, the report “9173.R1 – “Assessment Of Measured Aircraft Noise Levels Under The Existing Flight Paths of Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport With Reference To Western Sydney Airport” (prepared by Dr Eric Ancich and Mr Donald Carter) was submitted to Blacktown City Council. The report subsequently attracted media interest (both electronic and print) and is now widely known as the Ancich Report. […] The Ancich Report suggested that the noise level predictions for Western Sydney Airport underestimated the true impact. […] The conclusion of the study was that measurement of noise generated by aircraft in flight had demonstrated that variability in the height of aircraft will result in a wide range of receiver noise levels. This variability in height and the commensurate variability in noise levels would increase the noise impact over Blacktown and the Lower Blue Mountains, by 3 and 4 times respectively in perceived loudness, compared to that predicted in the EIS due to assumptions built into the modelling.

The flawed ANEF for Western Sydney Airport that is now subject to a Senate Inquiry was developed by Wilkinson Murray – the same acoustical consultants that previously also developed the ANEF for Brisbane Airport. Do you agree that the significant discrepancy between the noise exposure levels forecast by Brisbane Airport’s ANEF, which Airservices endorsed and approved, and the reality and lived experience of Brisbane residents, can be explained by the same flaws as identified in the Ancich Report?

Answer: The current ANEF for Brisbane Airport was developed by AirBiz utilising the Federal Aviation Administration Integrated Noise Model Tool, which is used by an extensive number of countries around the world to model noise impacts, and endorsed on 8 May 2019. There will always be discrepancies between forecast and actual noise exposure levels.  

7. Was financial compensation for noise affected residents under the new runway flight paths in Brisbane considered, and will the matter of compensation be revisited now that the ANEF and aircraft noise modelling have been shown to be highly inaccurate and flawed?

Answer: Financial compensation for community under flight paths is not part of Airservices Australia’s remit or legislated responsibility.

8. On 24 February 2021, at the Technical Airspace Design Workshop Brisbane Airport Corporation stated that the decision for mixed parallel simultaneous operations at Brisbane Airport “was ultimately a decision by BAC.” Why was this BAC’s decision rather than Airservices’ or CASA’s as the government regulators, especially given the runway operating mode can determine much of the airspace design? Are private, commercial airport operators normally responsible for deciding their runway operating modes?

Answer: Private commercial airport operators are responsible for the design of their on-ground infrastructure. Brisbane Airport Corporation made the decision to provide a distance of 2000 metres between the two runway centrelines to enable independent operation modes to be developed by Airservices.

Airservices Australia designs the flight paths, develops procedures and modes of operation based on the orientation and location of the runways. Air traffic control determines which mode is applied based on traffic volumes, weather and other conditions, with safety as the highest priority.

9. Did the community have the same access to influence flight path design decisions as BAC?

Answer: Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) determined the location and orientation of their runways through their Master Planning and Major Development Plan (MDP) process. BAC’s community engagement during the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) consultation for their Master Plan and MDP provided an opportunity for the community to influence flight path decisions. Public consultation involved a two-year information campaign and a formal 90-day consultation period required as part of the MDP and EIS process.

10. Can you describe the commercial and regulatory relationships between Airservices and BAC? Does Airservices view BAC as its client and customer?

Answer: Airservices Australia is a service provider not a regulator. Federally leased airports are regulated by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communicaitons. Airservices Australia is regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. 

Airservices Australia works with airports to deliver services to the aviation industry and travelling public, including air traffic control and aviation rescue fire fighting. Our services and supporting infrastructure are funded through customer charges to major domestic, international and regional airlines, charter operators, flight training schools and general aviation operators. 

11. Why was it considered necessary to operate at ultimate capacity mode (i.e. mixed parallel simultaneous operations) from day 1 at Brisbane Airport, and was any consideration given to a progressive capacity increase over time using alternative operating modes with better noise abatement outcomes?

Answer: Brisbane Airport is operating using parallel runway operating modes. It is however, not operating at full capacity due to low demand. 

Full parallel runway operations will commence at Brisbane Airport as demand increases. This will be managed with safety as the highest priority, with mode selection and Noise Abatement Procedures applied as appropriate to minimise the impact of aircraft operations on the community as far as practicable. 

113. Brisbane Community Engagement

Senator Larissa Waters asked

In response the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman’s findings that Airservices Australia failed to properly engage the community affected by flight path changes in Hobart, Airservices committed to: 

  • Improving environmental assessments: including amending Airservices’ Environment Management System so that a more detailed environmental assessment is required for flight path changes that overfly new communities and regional or rural areas; undertaking environmental risk assessments as part of the assessment process; and ensuring that assessments clearly define analysis against the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) and Airservices criteria. 
  • Improving community consultation planning: enhancing stakeholder engagement plans to include ‘likelihood to notice a difference’ and to consider social impacts as well as the environmental assessment against the EPBC Act.

What did Airservices do differently in Brisbane for the new flight paths there compared to what it did in Hobart? 

Answer: The first two phases of engagement and consultation for the New Parallel Runway (NPR) were undertaken by Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) from 2005 to 2007, and 2007 to 2018, with support from Airservices Australia. 

The release of the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman’s April 2018 Investigation into complaints about the introduction of new flight paths in Hobart occurred after the first two phases of engagement and consultation for the Brisbane NPR. The report’s findings were considered in the final information phase, during which time the BAC Flight Path Tool and Mobile Information Centre were used to provide information on the flight paths and noise contours.

114. UK NATS Review Services

Senator Larissa Waters asked:

In his response to Senator Chisholm in the Senate Estimates hearing on 22 March 2021, Mr Harfield said: “We have had the United Kingdom’s National Air Traffic Services [NATS] come and review them [air space design models for independent and dependent parallel runways] from time to time.” 

  • When did NATS provide their review services to the air space design and flight paths? 
  • Did NATS provide their review services remotely from London, or did they send consultants to provide review and assessment in situ at Brisbane Airport? If the latter, over what period did the NATS consultants conduct their review in situ at Brisbane Airport? 
  • Did NATS provide independent peer-review of the mixed parallel simultaneous operations at Brisbane Airport? If so, what were the outcomes of this review? 
  • Did NATS provide independent peer-review of any alternative operating modes such as independent parallel operations? If so, what were the outcomes of their review of these alternative operating modes? 
  • In providing their review and advice, did NATS take into consideration any noise impacts on local communities? 
  • The subtropical climate of Brisbane means many residents now adversely affected by excessive noise pollution from Brisbane Airport’s flight paths used to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. Many of them live in Queenslander homes, which are difficult to insulate from noise. In providing their review and advice, to what extent did NATS take into consideration the geographic location and subtropical climate of Brisbane, which is different to their home base in London? 

Answer: Airservices Australia (Airservices) has engaged the United Kingdom’s (UK) National Air Traffic Service (NATS) previously. On this occasion, Airservices did not engage the UK NATS to review airspace design models at Brisbane, however, the Brisbane Airport Corporation did.

115. Capacity optimisation and noise abatement

Senator Larissa Waters asked

1. The Statement of Expectations for Airservices Australia for the Period 15 July 2019 to 30 June 2021, issued by Michael McCormack MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development on 4 July 2019, only requires Airservices to provide, “appropriate resourcing of the Noise Complaints and Information Service [NCIS] to continue to improve the flow and quality of information to noise affected communities.” Does Airservices require the NCIS team to do anything other than providing noise information, e.g. proactively advocate for international best practice noise abatement strategies at Australian airports? Or is it simply just an information and data logging service?

Answer: Airservices Australia’s Noise Complaints and Information Service (NCIS) fulfils the functions required to meet its obligations under the Ministerial Statement of Expectations 2019-2021 and Ministerial Directive 37/1999, which includes a requirement to “provide, maintain and enhance public response and reporting services through a dedicated Noise Enquiry Service at airports covered by the Airports Act 1996 and other major Australian airports.” These functions are to receive complaints from the community, to investigate and to provide information on aircraft operations to the community. 

2. Airservices Australia appears to have a stake in (i) the design of aviation airspace management regimes (flight paths) and airspace classification; (ii) levying of Navigation Charges and Rescue Firefighting Services to airlines, and; (iii) providing the Noise Complaints and Information Service [NCIS]. To what extent does Airservices carry out regulatory oversight – if any – and how does it manage its conflict of interest between being a commercial, incorporated entity of the government required to support increasing airspace capacity, and looking after local communities across Australia affected by aircraft noise? 

Answer: Airservices is an air navigation service provider not a regulator. The Air Services Act 1995 requires Airservices to regard the safety of air navigation as the most important consideration. Subject to this requirement being satisfied, Airservices must then ensure that as far as is practicable, the environment is protected from the effects of the operation and use of aircraft; and the effects associated with the operation and use of aircraft.