In March 2000, the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) released a Discussion Paper titled Expanding Ways to Describe and Assess Aircraft Noise. This document was produced following extensive discussions with community representatives on finding new ways to describe aircraft noise.
The release of the Discussion Paper generated significant interest, both in Australia and overseas, in ‘new’ aircraft noise information concepts. The feedback on the paper revealed that many people now believe that the conventional ways of describing aircraft noise have significant limitations and that we need to move on to using aircraft noise descriptors that are less technical and more transparent to the non-expert. Clearly, improving the ways in which aircraft noise is described has benefits for all parties involved in aircraft noise issues.
This guidance material constitutes one of the formal responses to the feedback on the DOTARS Discussion Paper. Another important outcome from the Discussion Paper has been the development by DOTARS of a software package, the Transparent Noise Information Package (TNIP), designed to enable non-experts to rapidly produce the ‘new’ descriptors using standard personal computers.
Aircraft noise descriptors are used in a number of applications. These include the underpinning of aircraft noise assessments in Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), communicating with members of the public on specific aircraft noise issues and the reporting of routine environmental monitoring at airports. As these issues fall across the responsibilities of both the Commonwealth transport and environment portfolios, this guidance material has been prepared jointly by DOTARS and Environment Australia.
When considering the use of this guidance material it is important that the context of the airport in question be taken into account. The magnitude of aircraft noise issues varies widely from airport to airport depending on variables such as the type of aircraft, including military or civilian, the number and times of operations and whether flight paths go over residential, or other noise sensitive, land. This document puts forward a number of aircraft noise information options and it is intended that these be selected and applied in a manner that meets the needs of the circumstances pertaining at the time.
Given the dynamic nature of aircraft noise information, and its rapid evolution as technical capabilities expand, it is envisaged that this guidance material will be reviewed after five years to ensure that it captures new concepts as they emerge.