Sunshine Coast Airport’s late night flights are a concern for locals.
Sunshine Coast Airport’s late night flights are a concern for locals.

Late night Storm flights waking airport locals

The Twin Waters-based Melbourne Storm's early morning flights into Sunshine Coast Airport after interstate away games are giving nearby residents many sleepless nights.

Mudjimba Residents Association president Martin Peelgrane cites the Storm's 2am arrivals as one of the reasons his group wants stricter controls of late night flight movements in and out of the airport.

Mr Peelgrane is also a member of residents lobby group Flight Path Forum which is seeking better consultation from airspace authority Airservices Australia.

He said a range of issues would be raised with Airservices this Saturday at a consultation meeting to be held with Flight Path Forum and invited residents' groups.

"We think the noise abatement procedure and the way Airservices Australia are managing air traffic from the tower can be improved significantly," Mr Peelgrane said.

He said these flights bringing home the Storm were disrupting the sleep of locals.

"They're generally flying in around about 2am and they'll fly in from the south and then dump their cargo of footballers and about half an hour later they'll fly out, unfortunately to the south again," Mr Peelgrane said.

"The noise abatement procedure says they shouldn't be flying between 11pm and 5.30am unless they get prior permission."

Sunshine Coast Airport’s late night flights are a concern for local residents.
Sunshine Coast Airport’s late night flights are a concern for local residents.

Mr Peelgrane said the Alliance Airlines flights were only going back to base in Brisbane and locals didn't appreciate the double whammy.

"Not only are people waking up at 2am, we then get woken up about 2.40am when they take off going back in the other direction," Mr Peelgrane said.

"We've said to the airport 'can't you just hold that on the tarmac until 5.30 in the morning, and then we won't have a whinge rather than wake us up a second time, just keep it there'.

"Apparently Alliance are pretty busy at the moment, they do a lot of FIFOs so they want to get it and the crew back to Brisbane ready for takeoff the next morning."

Mr Peelgrane said when the Sunshine Coast-based St Kilda AFL side played a couple of interstate matches, they flew in late from the south but then the Virgin planes stayed grounded and did not fly out until about 4pm on both occasions.

"We've spoken to Sunshine Coast Airport about this and they say Virgin aren't all that busy at the moment," he said.

The residents' other concerns centre on helicopter night flights as well as light aircraft training circuits which head over their local homes to the south.

"We're still copping impacts," he said.

Sunshine Coast Airport has a Fly Neighbourly Policy but locals are not all impressed with some late night flights.
Sunshine Coast Airport has a Fly Neighbourly Policy but locals are not all impressed with some late night flights.

"So we'd like Airservices Australia to put a tighter control on these movements."

He said emergency choppers operating out of SCA can be a real problem as well.

"If they're going out to an emergency, no problem go for it, we don't really care, but if you're coming back to base after dropping your cargo off at the hospital at Birtinya, don't fly over our suburb at any time of the night," Mr Peelgrane said.

He said Airservices Australia have said these helicopters have to head straight back to base via the quickest path because they may need to refuel for other emergencies.

"We've said you can cut left across the conservation area, there's no one living there and then go up the old 1836 flight path which is where the (Maroochy River) golf course is and you won't disturb so many people," he said.

"I think we've got a reasonable argument."

Airservices Australia said the airport had noise abatement procedures designed to reduce the impact of aircraft on the community including procedures for runway use and flight paths to reduce flights over residential areas.

Sunshine Coast Airport head of corporate relations Ayllie White said while most flights occur during daytime and evening hours at Sunshine Coast Airport, the facility does operate 24 hours a day.

"Occasionally some operations are required to be undertaken at night," Ms White said.

"We do give careful consideration to the noise impacts on our immediate surrounding communities, while also balancing the operational needs of airlines and the broader economic and community benefits for the Sunshine Coast and Noosa regions.

"In order to help manage night time noise, we do require aircraft more than 5700kg to gain prior airport approval to takeoff or land between the hours of 11pm and 5.30am."

Ms White said these requests were often in response to unforeseen circumstances such as weather, diversions or mechanical issues.

"We have recently received a small number of applications for charter operations for sporting teams temporarily based on the Coast in order to meet biosecurity measures required by government approved COVID-19 protocols to facilitate national sporting competitions," she said.

"All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and we may request a number of conditional operational measures to help reduce impacts to surrounding residents.

"This may include trimming the aircraft to reduce noise, and are subject to safety and weather considerations."

In some instances, she said the airport was able to further mitigate night time noise by negotiating with the airline to hold the aircraft at Sunshine Coast Airport overnight and depart again during daytime hours where aircraft operations allow.

"Sunshine Coast Airport wants to see the best outcome that balances safety, operational considerations and the interests of our community, so we look forward to working with Airservices on their upcoming post implementation review of the flight paths," he said.