The initial flight paths for the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport (WSI) have been disclosed to the public, providing a glimpse into the future operations of this important aviation hub. This announcement has come with a degree of transparency that will hopefully assuage community concerns. The flight paths, alongside their expected noise impacts, are now accessible to the public via an online interactive Aircraft Overflight Noise Tool.
The Aircraft Overflight Noise Tool
This innovative tool will enable individuals to search their address or location and obtain a detailed understanding of the potential impact of the proposed flight paths. This includes expected flight altitudes, daily aircraft frequencies, and projected noise levels. Erskine Park, located in the Penrith Local Government Area, is anticipated to be one of the suburbs most impacted by aircraft noise. The tool is expected to inform and educate local communities about the operational implications of the new airport.
Flight Paths Design and Noise Modelling
The draft flight paths were devised by an Expert Steering Group composed of representatives from various government departments and organizations, including Airservices Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Department of Defence, and the airport operator, WSA Co. The design of these flight paths incorporates feedback from the community derived from ‘proof-of-concept’ flight paths released in 2015, emphasizing a reduction in flights over residential areas and minimizing noise pollution during night-time operations.
Two runway models, Runway 05 and Runway 23, will be employed for airport operations. During Runway 05 use, all aircraft will arrive from the southwest and depart towards the northeast. Conversely, Runway 23 operations will involve arrivals from the northeast and departures towards the southwest. Night operations, between 11 pm to 5.30 am, will utilize Reciprocal Runway Operations (RRO) to minimize noise impact on populated areas. This means the aircraft will land on Runway 05 – arriving from the southwest – and take off on Runway 23 – departing to the southwest.
In the spirit of transparency and engagement, the relevant departments will host community information and feedback sessions and set up information stalls across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains in the coming months. At these events, communities can gather more information and converse directly with the flight path design team.
Impact on the Penrith Area
Federal Lindsay MP Melissa McIntosh has stressed the significance of the proposed flight paths over the Penrith area, predicting up to 37 daily departures and 68 landings. She urges her community to participate in the public consultation process and calls for a balance between the economic benefits and potential disturbances the new airport will bring.
Environmental Impact Statement
A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be released later in the year, providing a comprehensive examination of the noise, social, and environmental impacts of the preliminary flight paths. This report will include a draft noise insulation and property acquisition policy to mitigate the impacts.