A still Tuesday morning. Emirates Flight 433 departed at Brisbane Airport on route to Singapore. Taking off over the populated South it turned to the North, tracking over St Lucia.
Photo credit: AviationWA David Eyre
At a time of the morning where background noise is minimal, the departing plane created the sound that likely woke 10's of thousands of people under the southern flight path. There was no significant prevailing wind, and the Brisbane Airport Flight Plan indicates this flight should depart via runway 19 (over Moreton Bay) where noise impact would have been massively reduced.
But for some reason, it did not. Perhaps there was an emergency? Perhaps there were a whole lot of planes queueing inbound. But 99% likely there wasn't. At a time where there were 6-7 operations at the airport per hour, there should be flexibility to manage the single loudest movement in the hour out over the bay.
Let's think about the impacts. Each of those people who were woken lost some sleep. Some may have struggled to get back to sleep (yes me included). If we assume on average each of 10,000 people each had their sleep disturbed - then assume that as a result, they are 15 minutes less productive at work today. Maybe an extra coffee break, or more likely, just a little less gets done. That equates to 2500 working hours. At average earnings of $31 per hour, we are talking about $80,000 of disruption. My numbers are only guesses - but could easily be higher.
Now noise at night doesn't just wake us, it messes up our circadian rhythms, increases stress levels and materially damages your mental and physical health. These are all proven effects (have a look through the blog for more articles covering this stuff).
How these flights will cause a property to depreciate
Brisbane has long had a noise-affected air corridor. From Hamilton, Cannon Hill, Seven Hills, Camp Hill, Coorparoo (with a number of other suburbs partially or fully affected). The noise effects are consistent and baked into property prices.
With the second runway at BNE, this pattern will change for the first time in decades. The new runway to the North West of the existing runway now draws a line through a new set of suburbs. Bulimba, Balmoral, Hawthorne, Norman Park, Southern New-Farm East Brisbane, and Woolloongabba. The details are here.
Now the theory and planning say that at night, and during times of low-wind and moderate demand that the airport will operate in Opposite Direction mode - which is great. One runway will have planes landing (over the bay) and one will have planes taking off over the bay. This will reduce the noise in the current corridor and not have any impact in the new southern corridor. All good.
When wind levels are higher, planes need to land and take off into the wind, and so traffic will need to either land or take-off over one or both corridors. If the load is spread between the runways, the old corridor will see some noise relief and the new corridor will see dramatically higher noise levels. So some winners and some losers - but over time, increasing flight operations means both areas will progressively see more noise.
However, flight UAE433 shows that the current rules are not being followed. Airservices Australia, Brisbane Airport Corporation and/or the Airlines are making short-term decisions and if continued, will mean late night take-off and landing operations across the new flight corridor.
NoiseNet specialises in noise analysis and noise monitoring. We don't work for the big corporates, we work for local residents and homebuyers - who want to understand and control their noise environments. We recently completed a review of noise impacts on property prices. To do this we analysed 87000 properties across Brisbane and compared with data from Insight Data Solutions - a leading property valuation firm.
Based on these effects, and assuming that 50% of the current noise levels in the existing southern corridor are inflicted on the new southern corridor, we anticipate that house prices can be expected to drop by 5-7% in this new corridor. And there are likely to be longer-term impacts beyond this initial drop as investment and upgrading in the suburbs reduce.
The severity of this can be significantly reduced if the airport corporation and Airservices Australia start adhering to their own guidelines and make the best efforts to mitigate aircraft noise. But today they are not doing that.
Correction: The initial version of this post referred to a Toll Flight TFR23 arriving at 3 am as the offending aircraft. This was based partially on my disorientation in the early hours and on a flight route listing which provided a direct point-to-point mapped line between airports. Having reviewed the official WebTrak site, it was an Emirates flight departing at 2:40 AM to Singapore that created the wake-up event. It tracked SW before turning north over St-Lucia to maximise its audible impact on the city.