Airservices is Australia's air navigation service provider - we provide air traffic control, aviation rescue and fire fighting and air navigation services.

Environmental Analysis for Cairns

To achieve the best aircraft safety outcomes for Cairns, Airservices is working towards making Smart Tracking technology permanently available for all suitably equipped aircraft landing at Adelaide Airport. Implementation will be designed to maximise noise and emissions benefits. Smart Tracking has been trialled at Cairns since 2007.

Almost all proposed Smart Tracking routes at Cairns are within existing flight paths. Track 8 is the only proposed new track. This arrival track to Runway 33 from the east flies over no residential areas until it is aligned with other arrival tracks to that runway when it crosses the city. (Proposed Smart Tracking routes – Cairns).

Methodology

As part of the evaluation of Smart Tracking at Cairns, Airservices has analysed potential changes in aircraft noise distribution between 2011 and 2020 with and without Smart Tracking being used.  The analysis assumes 85% of jets will use Smart Tracking by 2020.  The information below includes forecast growth in air traffic to 2020. However, the analysis shows only any difference in the noise impact of aircraft which could be attributed to Smart Tracking.

Approaches to Runway 15 (from the north west)

There are six Smart Tracking routes proposed to be made permanent for approaches to Runway 15.

  • Track 1: Arrivals from the west to the northern runway.  This track has been trialled since 2007 and no change in noise level is expected.
  • Track 2: Arrivals from the north to the northern runway.  This track overlies an existing flight path, which aircraft are generally required to use at night and during bad weather.  There is expected to be a reduction in the number of aircraft using this track, as alternative tracks will be available. Areas around Yorkeys Knob are expected to experience a noticeable decrease in average noise levels.
  • Track 3Arrivals from the northeast to the northern runway.  This track is mostly over water and no change in noise level is expected.
  • Track 4: Arrivals from the west to the northern runway.  This track is mostly over water and provides an alternative to Track 1 and Track 2. Track 4 is slightly longer than Track 2 and will therefore result in a small increase in aircraft emissions.
  • Tracks 5-6: Arrivals over water from the north and south to northern runway.  Similar to Track 4, these tracks provide an alternative for aircraft currently required to use Track 2 in bad weather.  Tracks 5 and 6 are slightly shorter than Track 2 and will therefore achieve a small saving in aircraft emissions.

The use of the Creek Corridor (Tracks 4,5 and 6) by large aircraft (such as the Boeing 767 and Airbus 330) as well as by more aircraft in poor weather and at night will be visible to communities to the south of Yorkey’s Knob, although there will be no change in the noise impact for these communities.

Approaches to Runway 33 (from the south east)

There are four Smart Tracking routes proposed to be made permanent for approaches to Runway 33.  A very low number of jet aircraft use this runway (on average 1.5 a day in winter and 6 a day in summer).  In 2011, the maximum number of aircraft using Runway 33 on a single day was 44 and there were 287 days with no jet arrivals.

  • Tracks 7-10: Arrivals to the southern runway.  All current arrivals to this runway overfly the city of Cairns for the last 7km and this will remain the same with Smart Tracking.  There will therefore be no change in the noise impact to communities resulting from Smart Tracking.

Runway 33 Departure

One Smart Tracking departure procedure is proposed at Cairns, from Runway 33. This would overlay current departure procedures by tracking aircraft out over the Creek Corridor. There is expected to be no change to the number or type of aircraft using this departure procedure as a result of the permanent implementation of Smart Tracking, and therefore no change in noise impacts.