Plane noise complaints fall on deaf ears

JOSH FAGAN
Last updated 11:54 30/05/2014

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Concerns about noisy aircraft have fallen on deaf ears with a report saying a trial flight path into Auckland Airport created no significant extra noise.

The draft report released today found noise from the new Smart Approaches flight approaches were "only just perceptible to the human ear".

An independent acoustic measurement found the more direct routes were 3 decibels higher in most areas, except Reinheimer Place in Flat Bush where the difference was 7 decibels.

The release of the report followed complaints from residents in several suburbs that had not previously had planes flying overhead.

Resident action group "The Plane Truth" said 446 people signed its online petition opposing the trial route.

It described the new path as "intolerable noise pollution" that was "bringing radical changes to once peaceful neighbourhoods".

The effects of the trial were felt in Mt Albert, Mt Eden, Epsom, Royal Oak, One Tree Hill, Onehunga, Oranga and as far afield as Greenlane and the Remuera Victoria Ave ridge, it said.

But the draft report found that while individual flights in the trial had "marginally higher noise levels, the difference was not regarded as significant".

It stated that out of 2000 public submissions, only a quarter of the complaints referred to flights that were actually part of the Smart Approaches trial.

The other 76 per cent related to existing flight paths.

Auckland Airport, Airways New Zealand and the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand confirmed the trial would return early next year, with minor changes.

The modified flight paths would see aircraft cross the navigational point above Mt Albert and Dominion Roads, 800 feet higher than the trial altitude, reducing engine power and noise and enabling a more continuous descent.

Another modification was to increase maximum permitted aircraft speed, to reduce the use of speed brakes, which were a significant contributor to aircraft noise.

The Smart Approaches trial ran between November 2012 and October 2013 in a bid to improve aircraft efficiency and reduce the impact of aircraft noise on the community.

It has drawn the ire of residents since it was first reported in May last year.

Lorraine Clark, a Royal Oak member of The Plane Truth, said she was surprised the report suggested "media coverage as being the cause of the significant increase in complaints".

An Onehunga resident, who did not wish to be named, said earlier this month that fuel savings should not take priority over the welfare or quality of life of residents.

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"I am usually a deep sleeper and never wake up during the night," the resident said.

"But I have been woken as late as 2am and as early as 6am on numerous occasions by noisy planes. They roar, whine and thunder past every day now and I've had enough."

Jann McMichael of Royal Oak said planes flying over her area was "a huge disturbance".

Auckland Airport general manager of aeronautical operations Judy Nicholl thanked the community for its feedback on the trial.

"We believe the recommendations in the draft report respond appropriately to both community concern and the aviation objectives of the trial," she said.

"We now look forward to receiving public feedback on the recommendations."

Submissions can be made until 5pm on Friday, June 27.

- Stuff

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