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


Smart Tracking was permanently implemented at Melbourne in March 2013 and is cornerstone technology to cater for the future of Melbourne in a sustainable way.

Nine tracks were implemented for aircraft arriving to Melbourne Airport in 2013.

In November 2016 Airservices will implement a new international standard Smart Tracking procedure on Runway 16 to improve safety, noise and emission outcomes for Melbourne Airport.

What is not going to change?

Most aircraft around Melbourne Airport will continue to fly as they currently do.

When Runway 16 is in use for landing, aircraft generally arrive using the Instrument Landing System (ILS) which is runway aligned from approximately 15km to the north of the airport.

In good weather conditions, aircraft arriving from the west or south may also use a visual approach. This approach aligns with the runway closer to the airport at approximately 10km to the north. Using this visual approach also reduces fuel and emissions. Aircraft arriving on visual approaches navigate with visual reference resulting in a variation or spread of aircraft tracking as can be seen in blue in the image below.

What is going to change?

The new Smart Tracking approach procedures can offer shorter routes than existing approaches. Airservices Smart Tracking procedures provide approved aircraft with improved guidance to the runway by using satellite navigation. Shorter approaches use less fuel and produce fewer emissions. Smart Tracking approaches will be more accurate than the existing visual approaches and can appear more concentrated to some residents, however no new areas will be exposed to aircraft noise as a direct result of implementing the flight path changes.

New Smart Tracking flight path and existing flight tracks

Above: New Smart Tracking arrival flight path shown in white. Existing arrival flights tracks (which will not change) shown in blue.

How many aircraft will use Smart Tracking?

On a busy day, approximately 280 jet aircraft arrive on Runway 16. Of these flights it is estimated that up to 30 (approximately 10% of arrivals to Runway 16) may use Smart Tracking to land. These numbers are estimates based on data from a 12 month period (1 July 2013 – 30 June 2014). Arrivals to Runway 16 are generally the highest during spring and summer due to the wind directions. Further information on runway selection.

Will there be more aircraft noise?

No new areas will be exposed to aircraft noise as a direct result of the new Smart Tracking flight paths, as these areas are already currently overflown by aircraft (both arriving to Runway 16 and departing from Runway 34).

Residents in the Kalkallo, Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickleham and Oaklands Junction areas may visually notice a difference in where aircraft fly. While there may be a slight increase in the level of noise from these flights, it is not likely to be distinguishable due to the number of flights that already fly over these areas.

When will this change begin?

The updated flight paths will be available for all suitably-equipped operators from 10 November 2016.

Related links

Smart Tracking Melbourne Runway 16 factsheet (2016)
Smart Tracking Melbourne factsheet (2013)
Environmental Analysis for Melbourne (2013)