Finally, after a year long review, and an unexplained 3 month delay, Airservices Australia has released it promised ‘greenfields’ flightpath options for public consultation.
Unfortunately there were no options provided to enable genuine consultation, only a single very complex plan which, underneath, differs little from what was proposed in November 2017.
The design leaves no scope for meaningful change and continues to affect the same communities as before. Planes simply arrive over water instead of land. The only difference is that now World Heritage listed Maria Island and the iconic Bangor property are directly overflown with around 15 jets arriving per day from Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Brilliant.
Because of Airservices insistence on using SIDs and STARs as the only tool available for separation of aircraft, they’ve also had to create a path for every possible scenario, creating a real mess - most of it wedged into a narrow sector South East of the airport.
Surprisingly, all the separation tools you’d expect at any other capital city airport are missing: RADAR, backup ground-based navigation aids and options for visual approaches are not included. Why?
To simplify things, we’ve created this map of the main jet paths (i.e. where more than one large commercial jet per day is likely to fly) overlaid on an Airservices map.
As well presenting a sub-standard, confusing and predetermined design, Airservices has failed to comply with the Air Noise Ombudsman’s recommendations made in response to the complete lack of consultation when the current paths were implemented:
Recommendation 1: Airservices should incorporate consideration of potential noise impacts from the commencement of flight path design and integrate that consideration throughout the design process.
Recommendation 3: Airservices should ensure that its additional analysis of social impact to form part of the Environmental Assessment:
(a) includes a clearly defined purpose;
(b) includes explicit commentary on social impact taking into account particular community history, context and sensitivities; and
(c) incorporates a critically analytical assessment of the potential impact on the community of proposed change referring to both qualitative and quantitative values.
There has been no consultation with, or involvement of, community or local business stakeholders regarding these paths, apart from the tokenistic and ‘incomplete’ Social Impact study undertaken by consultant Tania Parkes in June 2018.
For reasons that were not clearly explained, Dr Parkes asked people to tell her about the impact of the current paths - these sessions were harrowing, as participants shared their experience of bushfire survival, insomnia, and despair.
At no point were participants asked about their preferences (we have obtained transcripts of all public sessions which verify this) and yet Dr Parkes’s report concludes that “Most community members would like Airservices to consider a flight path that extends over water (i.e. along the east coast and up the Derwent River)”.
It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Airservices never intended to make any changes and these sessions were simply a tokenistic effort to justify leaving the current paths as they are.
We do not claim that Tania Parkes was complicit in this. Nevertheless, she has a commercial interest in the outcome and is now in charge of all communications about the flight path and is the only contact point for enquiries.
We reject the proposed design put to communities as not made on the basis of any consultation whatsoever, or even on the basis of safety, given the complete absence of any alternative aircraft separation tools.
Airservices has had a year to think about this, let’s have a genuine greenfields approach that:
Considers a range of navigation options in its review, including visual and ground-based navigation, to allow maximum flexibility for pilots and air traffic controllers, and enable equitable noise sharing across communities
Allows visual navigation arrangements at Hobart airport while the review is undertaken to provide noise relief
Involves community and industry representatives in the review from the outset
Acknowledges Hobart Airport as a capital city airport, and provide appropriate tools such as RADAR surveillance, which will encourage future growth