The third Aerodrome Forum meeting for 2019 was conducted recently. The major topic of the meeting was an increase in noise complaints received by SC Airport Management regarding Caloundra Aerodrome. Over 60% of the complaints were from Pelican Waters (and one small area in particular) while a little over 25% were from ‘Caloundra West’. For our area this totaled a little over 20 recorded complaints.
Anecdotal evidence indicates it is the persistence of the noise in conjunction with pilot training circuits rather than the odd noisy or low flying aircraft that causes concern. One operator has experienced a 400% increase in pilot training applications over recent years thus increasing the number of training flights.
For residents concerned about the noise and how it could develop even further, they should worry no more right now as Pilot Training operators agreed that a maximum had now occurred and that it was physically impossible to conduct any extra flights as the training circuits were at saturation point.
A maximum of 5 aircraft are permitted on a circuit at any one time.
But the number of complaints has tripled from a total of 23 in 2018 to around 90 in 2019. Yes there has been an increase in flights as training schools take on more students, but that number has now peaked.
Perhaps home owners are now more aware they can lodge a complaint while there appears a strong case that some complaints have been lodged by numerous residents who all live in the one street. Possibly a disgruntled resident has letter boxed neighbours to organize a concerted email campaign to highlight a problem.
The Forum discussed a range of issues on how the noise level of repetitive training flights could be managed. Was it one or two particularly noisy aircraft which set some complainants off, or is the large increase in the number of training flights? Testing of an aircraft’s ‘decibel’ range could be a consideration with owners of noisy aircraft being directed to lower the noise of their aircraft.
Cr Dwyer suggested a ‘satellite landing and take off area’ where aircraft on training circuits could go for ‘touch and go’ be investigated. This would require a large input from the state as it was the major owner of land which could be deemed suitable for such a facility. This would be a costly and therefore a less attractive option for a state government to consider.
Cr Baberowski reminded the Forum that if it came down to a battle between Caloundra Aerodrome and the local residents, the aerodrome would be at a severe disadvantage. So it was dependent on operators to come up with a solution
Currently aircraft are required to take of and land into the wind. This determines which runway should be used. Airport management has noted there are fewer noise concerns raised when one runway is used over the other.
However if a 6% tolerance was introduced and the less noisy runway became the major nominated runway for takeoffs, aircraft could use this less noisy runway despite it not being quite into the wind. It was believed this would remove many complaints if introduced.
One major local operator said his company with offices all over the world (including Caloundra) had recently entered into a contract to purchase 10 new electric powered aircraft. He believed that if we could manage the current noise situation for a few more years the problem would just disappear in time as electric powered aircraft superseded the current fuel powered noisy planes.
Airport Management took away a range of suggestions and options to best fight the battle against aircraft noise. It won’t happen over night, but there was a clear and strong message from everyone that all possible avenues would be investigated to minimize any disruption from aircraft noise to the lifestyle of residents.
BeCA is hopeful Caloundra Aerodrome Community and Aviation Forum chairman, Greg Hunt can be a speaker at our final Public Meeting for 2019, November 4th at 6:45pm.