Airservices is Australia's air navigation service provider - we provide air traffic control, aviation rescue and fire fighting and air navigation services.

Frequently asked questions

Who is responsible for managing aircraft noise?

A number of organisations are responsible for aircraft noise management. The government is responsible for overall policy and legislation. Airservices is responsible for flight paths, providing noise information and managing complaints. Aircraft operators ensure their aircraft are compliant with noise standards and implement noise abatement principles for flight operations. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority certifies aircraft that meet noise standards. Airports develop noise management plans and manage local community engagement, while state and local governments manage land-use planning around airports. For more information, visit the industry aircraft noise website

How can flight paths be moved?

Airservices designs flight paths. Flight path design is a complex process and existing flight paths are the result of extensive consultation, over many years, with affected stakeholders (for example, the aviation industry, government, regulators and the local community). Changes to flight paths are made for a variety of reasons, including safety and noise management. However, changes are not easy to make as changes to one flight path could impact other flight paths. Airservices consults with Community Aviation Consultation Groups over potential changes to ensure community views are considered and uses a range of consultation methods.

Why don’t all airports have curfews?

Curfews are imposed by Federal legislation and, at present, affect only Sydney, Adelaide, Essendon and Gold Coast airports. Federal government policy with respect to curfews is to maintain current curfew arrangements as outlined in the Aviation White Paper.

More information on airport curfews is available in our downloadable factsheet.

What is circuit training and who is in charge of it?

Circuit training, the act of repetitive take-offs, approaches and landings, is essential as it is the first stage of practical pilot training. It involves making approaches to the runway, touching down and then applying power to take-off again. At airports without a control tower, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations specify how an aircraft should join a circuit when it approaches the airport from outside its local area. Circuits are performed both day and night and airport management governs the times in which this occurs.

What is a Fly Neighbourly Advice?

A Fly Neighbourly Advice is a voluntary code of practice negotiated between aircraft operators and communities or authorities that have an interest in reducing the disturbance caused by aircraft within a particular area. It may include limitation on height, frequency and areas of operation. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s Office of Airspace Regulation provides advice on the form and content of these agreements.

Can I get a noise monitor installed at my home?

Airservices makes decisions about where noise monitors are placed with input from many stakeholders, including local Community Aviation Consultation Groups. Airservices tries to locate monitors as close to flight paths as possible. The decisions on final locations of monitors take into account a number of other factors, including security, licensing, facilities and background noise levels. Private residences are not ideal locations for noise monitors as they are more likely to change ownership or occupancy which increases the risk of having to relocate the monitor. In addition, access for maintenance can be more difficult.

There are several ways to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on your home.

What affects the selection of runways on any given day?

Wind direction and wind speed are always significant factors in runway selection, as aircraft primarily take off and land into the wind, and seasonal weather patterns can also have an effect. Other factors include traffic levels, pilot requirements and the mix of aircraft operating in the area at the time. Some airports have ‘preferred runway’ systems. This means that if wind conditions, workload and traffic conditions permit, a particular runway will be used. These preferred runway systems help move traffic as efficiently as possible and reduce the noise impact over residential areas of arriving and departing aircraft.

Why do Bureau of Meteorology and air traffic control wind observations sometimes differ?

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) weather reports refer to weather in an area, not at a specific location, and cover a 10 nautical mile radius (about 18 kilometres, much greater than the actual size of the airport). The BoM’s wind direction reading is taken from a single instrument located on the airfield and generally, its reports are made at scheduled times, not on a minute-by-minute or even hourly basis.

By contrast, ATC wind observations are made using multiple instruments that are positioned at the threshold of every runway and provide minute-by-minute readings. This is because weather is dynamic and constantly changing.

What are minimum flying heights for aircraft?

Minimum heights are governed by Regulation 157 of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988. This states that pilots must not fly over cities, towns or populous areas at a height lower than 1000 feet, or over any other area lower than 500 ft, taken as height above the highest point in the terrain. However exceptions do apply, for example:

  • in situations where the weather requires lower flying
  • for helicopters flying within specified access lanes
  • where the aircraft is engaged in air work for which the operator has a permit (such as media helicopters)
  • for police and search and rescue operations
  • where an aircraft is in the course of taking off or landing at an airport.

These and other exceptions are set out in the regulations.

Who investigates safety breaches such as low flying?

Safety breaches are the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

To whom do I complain about military aircraft?

Noise complaints about Department of Defence activities should be directed to the nearest base. To contact a base call the Defence switchboard on 1300 333 3623 and ask to be transferred to the relevant base. The Royal Australian Air Force website has a list of bases and contact details.