Guidelines for Dispensations for Aircraft to Use Coolangatta Airport During Curfew Hours

1. Introduction

Coolangatta Airport has a curfew in place under the Air Navigation (Coolangatta Airport Curfew) Regulations 1999 that applies to all aircraft operations between 11.00pm and 6.00am (Queensland local time).

The Regulations provide for the following:

  • a curfew to apply at Coolangatta Airport between the hours of 11.00pm and 6.00am (Queensland local time), except where the Regulations otherwise permit;
  • an annual quota of 24 passenger jet movements during curfew hours to cater for peak demand periods such as school holidays, Easter and Christmas periods and special events. These quota flights are permitted between 11.00pm and 11.45pm Eastern Standard Time, or between 11.00pm and 11.30pm EST when Daylight Saving Time is in force in New South Wales, except that departures are not allowed after 11.00pm EST during Daylight Saving Time in NSW;
  • a total of four freight jet aircraft movements per week during curfew hours by BAe 146 or equivalent aircraft are permitted;
  • jet aircraft with maximum take-off weight of 34,000 kilograms or less, which comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Chapter 3 noise standards and with the “90–95 rule” (low noise jets), and propeller aircraft with maximum take-off weight of 34,000 kilograms or less, are permitted to operate during curfew hours;
  • aircraft involved in emergencies, or otherwise granted dispensation by the Secretary to the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, are permitted to operate during curfew hours.

1.1 General Principle

In administering these Guidelines a key consideration will be the avoidance of any circumstances which could compromise the safety or security of an aircraft.

1.2 Aircraft involved in an emergency

Regulation 20 provides that an aircraft may take off from, or land at, Coolangatta Airport during the curfew period if the aircraft is involved in an emergency. Further, the Regulations specify that an aircraft is involved in an emergency if:

  1. the aircraft is being used for or in connection with:
    1. a search and rescue operation; or
    2. a medical emergency; or
    3. a natural disaster; or
  2. the pilot of the aircraft has declared an in-flight emergency; or
  3. the aircraft has insufficient fuel to be diverted to another airport; or
  4. there is an urgent need for the aircraft to land or take off:
    1. to ensure the safety or security of the aircraft or any person; or
    2. to avoid damage to property.

In these circumstances operations may take place without the issuing of a dispensation.

2. Dispensations

2.1 Arrivals

A passenger or freight jet aircraft (other than one permitted under the Regulations to land at Coolangatta Airport during the curfew) planning to arrive at Coolangatta Airport should not depart from its origin port unless the estimated time of arrival will be before 11.00pm Queensland local time. Where the estimated time of arrival will be at or after 11.00pm, dispensation should be sought before departure where exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.

A passenger or freight jet aircraft which had planned to arrive after 6.00am Queensland local time, and which subsequently arrives early, must hold until after 6.00am, unless the statutory fuel reserves specified in the company operations manual will be reduced and the aircraft would be considered to be in an emergency situation.

2.2 Departures

A passenger or freight jet aircraft (other than one permitted under the Regulations to take-off from Coolangatta Airport during the curfew) must not depart from Coolangatta Airport at or after 11.00pm Queensland local time.

Where Air Traffic Control is on duty, and the aircraft has received taxi clearance for take-off before 11.00pm Queensland local time, the aircraft may take off after 11.00pm.

Where an Air Traffic Control service is not available, and the aircraft began taxiing for take-off before 11.00pm Queensland local time, the aircraft may take off after 11.00pm.

2.3 Exceptional circumstances

Regulation 21 provides that the Secretary of the department may grant a dispensation authorising a take-off or landing which would otherwise breach the Regulations where there are exceptional circumstances that justify permitting the aircraft to take off from or land at Coolangatta Airport.

General criteria

To be considered exceptional the circumstances must generally be:

  • of immediate origin;
  • of such a character that they could not reasonably have been foreseen; and
  • not reasonably able to be met by alternative arrangements.

Where all of the above criteria are satisfied, the following matters may be taken into account to determine whether or not a dispensation should be granted:

  • by what margin the expected time of movement falls into the curfew period; i.e., is it shortly after 11.00pm or shortly before 6.00am;
  • whether the cause of delay is within the control of the operator;
  • the noise level of the aircraft;
  • the number of passengers involved; and
  • the severity of the likely hardship.

Further guidance on these criteria is provided in the following paragraphs.

Nature and forseeability of circumstances

Where an aircraft is delayed due to weather or operational reasons (including mechanical problems or need to meet security requirements), the operator would need to establish that it was not possible to have foreseen the situation in sufficient time to make alternative arrangements.

Normally delays due to weather, mechanical or other technical considerations will only be considered where they occur in the immediately preceding sector. Delays due to events (including network-wide problems) earlier in the day would not normally be considered favourably.

Delays due to requirements to comply with security procedures, or to undertake short term precautionary safety checks, are strong reasons for dispensations to be granted.

Expected time of curfew operation

As a general guide, applications for dispensation would be considered against the same time provisions that apply to passenger jet aircraft movements permitted under the annual quota arrangements. These provide for aircraft to land or take off between 11.00pm and 11.45pm Eastern Standard Time (EST), or to land between 11.00pm and 11.30pm EST when Daylight Saving Time is in force in New South Wales. Departures are not allowed after 11.00pm EST during Daylight Saving Time in NSW.

In general terms, applications for dispensation able to provide assurance that an aircraft would be able to land, or take off, between 11.00pm and 11.30pm Queensland local time will be considered more favourably than an application that could not provide such assurance. However, departures would not generally be considered favourably particularly during Daylight Saving Time in NSW since these would occur after midnight in NSW.

Applications for operations after midnight could be expected to almost always be refused.

Passenger Hardship

An operator would be expected to make reasonable efforts to arrange, for example, accommodation for stranded passengers. Where an operator had then not been successful in arranging accommodation for passengers in either Coolangatta or other cities, the passenger hardship arising in such cases would be taken into account when considering an application for dispensation.

Circumstances which would not be considered exceptional

The following are circumstances that would generally not be considered exceptional, and would therefore not lead to a dispensation:

  • delays caused by adverse weather conditions which are known to the operator prior to an aircraft taking off;
  • delays caused by industrial disputes
  • in protracted disputes involving long term severe disruption to aviation services consideration may be given to declaring the circumstances exceptional;
  • disruptions to network or Coolangatta sector schedules due to mechanical problems (as distinct from immediate or unforseen problems arising with an individual aircraft scheduled to arrive at or depart from Coolangatta close to commencement of the curfew);
  • airline management considerations (such as a need to reposition or crew aircraft);
  • circumstances of any kind where there has been sufficient time for alternative arrangements to be put in place or where a normal degree of operational flexibility should have sufficed to address the problem.

Reasonable efforts to be made

It is the responsibility of the operator to demonstrate that every reasonable effort has been made to avoid the need for a dispensation.

3. Noise Abatement Procedures

During the curfew, aircraft should operate in accordance with Noise Abatement Procedures, including preferred runways and flight paths, set out in Airservices Australia's “AIP—Departure and Approach Procedures” for Coolangatta Airport.

4. Administrative Arrangements

Requests for curfew dispensations at Coolangatta Airport should be made to telephone number 02 6274 6998 or email chapter2@infrastructure.gov.au. All calls to this number, which is the same as that used for Sydney, Adelaide and Essendon curfew dispensation requests, will be received by a commercial answering service and immediately diverted to a duty officer of the department responsible for handling dispensation requests.

The duty officer will contact the person seeking the dispensation, make a decision on the request and advise the aircraft operator of the decision. If appropriate, the duty officer will also advise Airservices Australia's Air Traffic Control at Coolangatta of the dispensation request and decision at the earliest practicable time.

The Regulations do not require that a dispensation be granted in writing, but a written record of the dispensation and the reasons for granting it must be made and kept.

December 1999

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Last Updated: 16 January, 2018