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This document has been prepared to promote debate on the development and use of more transparent approaches to describing and assessing aircraft noise around Australian airports.

The paper is primarily targeted at those persons who are directly involved in generating, or making formal decisions based on, aircraft noise exposure information: airport operators; airlines; noise consultants and officials of government aviation; environment, transport and planning agencies. The broad aim is to advance the way in which aircraft noise exposure information is conveyed to the non-expert as a basis for informed dialogue between airports and surrounding communities.

The concepts described in this paper have been developed over the past three years as a result of the special circumstances surrounding Sydney Airport and are the outcome of the Sydney community's response to the conventional approach to providing information on aircraft noise.

The 1995 Senate Select Committee on Aircraft Noise in Sydney identified many deficiencies in the way in which aircraft noise information had been conveyed to the public through the reliance on the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) System in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Third Runway at Sydney Airport.

In response to the Committee's recommendations a number of new approaches to conveying information on aircraft noise have been developed in recent years. These approaches are based on describing aircraft noise in a way that is understandable to a non-expert rather than in the terms in which noise ‘experts’ communicate with each other.

As the paper broadly addresses issues raised by the Senate Select Committee much of the information included relates to Sydney Airport. However, the approaches canvassed have broad applicability and the paper includes a number of examples of information on aircraft noise exposure patterns at other Australian airports using the ‘new’ metrics.

These supplementary approaches have essentially only been made possible by the advent in recent years of inexpensive and powerful computing hardware and associated software: databases; geographic information systems; satellite images; etc. Technological advances will undoubtedly continue to play an important role in expanding the way in which information on aircraft noise can be presented and disseminated.

The concepts put forward for discussion in this paper have been developed by officers of the Department of Transport and Regional Services and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commonwealth Government.


Last Updated: 9 July, 2014