Curfew Information for Essendon Airport

Proposed amendments to the Air Navigation (Essendon Airport) Regulations 2001

Background

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (the Department) undertook public consultation on a proposal to amend the Air Navigation (Essendon Airport) Regulations 2001, between 11 September 2017 and 24 October 2017.

Three proposed amendments were put forward for consideration:

  1. Lifting the permitted weight limit for jet aircraft from 45,000kgs to 55,000kgs for operators during non-curfew hours;
  2. Removing the ability of non-emergency helicopters and propeller driven aircraft to operate during the curfew;
  3. Allowing jet aircraft, which meet strict noise criteria to land during the curfew period.

Submissions

A total of 326 submissions were received from residents of 20 suburbs around Essendon, including 90 submissions from residents who did not identify their location. Of the suburbs identified, Strathmore was the most commonly mentioned, with 75 submissions, or 23 per cent of the submissions received.

A number of detailed submissions were received from Local Governments, Members of Parliament and Business representatives. Electronic copies of a number of these submissions are available below.

Proposed Amendments

Proposal 1, to lift the permitted weight limit for jet aircraft during non-curfew hours was largely not supported, with 281 submissions (86 per cent) expressing disagreement.

Proposal 2, to ban non-emergency helicopters and propeller-driven aircraft during the curfew was rejected by the majority of 175 submissions (54 per cent), on the basis that this measure was only proposed to allow jet landings during the curfew.  Of the balance, 82 submissions (25 per cent) did not state a position and 69 submissions (21 per cent) agreed with this proposal.

Proposal 3, to allow jet aircraft which meet strict noise criteria to land during the curfew was rejected by a majority of 302 submissions (93 per cent).

Issues

The issue most frequently mentioned was noise, including night noise during the curfew, which was raised in 201 submissions. Submissions expressed the view that heavier aircraft would create more noise, and that increasing the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) would allow greater numbers of larger aircraft to operate, creating more noise.

The issue of night noise was related to the proposal to allow jet aircraft to operate during the curfew. As no limits on the number of curfew operations were put forward, this was interpreted by some as allowing 24/7 operations and resulting in a removal of the curfew. This was not the intent of the proposal, which was to replace a small number of curfew operations by helicopters and propeller-driven aircraft with a similar number of operations by low noise business jets.

Safety was the next most frequently mentioned issue. Respondents expressed the view that allowing heavier aircraft to operate would result in much greater damage in the event of an accident. This may reflect concerns raised by the accident at Essendon on 21 February 2017, and past accidents. A number of respondents expressed the view that the investigation of the recent accident at Essendon needed to be finalised before introducing new practices at the airport. Safety is the overarching priority in aviation, and all sectors of the industry are focussed on actively working to ensure that accidents do not occur.

Other issues raised included concerns about health and pollution from aircraft emissions, and the perception that property values may be adversely affected.

In response to concerns that the consultation period was too short it was extended, to allow submissions to be received for an additional two weeks to 24 October 2017.

Next Steps

In response to the feedback from the public consultation process, the department will put forward a number of options which address the issues raised, for consideration by the Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. The Department thanks all respondents who contributed their views in this process.

Detailed Submissions

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Last Updated: 16 November, 2017