Balmoral man on a flying route gets angry as planes fly over his home

One plane above Dr. Sean Foley Balmoral’s home – out of eight during a 30-minute interview – measured 72.5 dB.credit:Tony Moore

Dr Foley, who took his complaints to Airservices Australia, said every flight interrupted the conversation at home.

Most of the noise in his home was as low as 70 decibels – the level at which things like a vacuum cleaner interrupted normal conversation.

Its highest reading was an 82dB Qantas flight that arrived at 4.10pm on August 28.

“It’s very annoying. The recordings are seldom below 70 dB, and then you will get occasional recording that is much more and less noisy, and the noise will go up to 75 dB.

“Sometimes it touches 80 dB, so it’s pretty high. Seventy dB is supposed to be the bar.”

Dr Foley believes that residents of Brisbane’s East Side are undergoing brutal shock when Brisbane airport returns to full capacity.

“Given that operational activity is only 40 percent of normal capacity, we have had very few jumbos, 777s or A380s in the past two months,” he said. “They make a lot more noise.”

Last November, there was not a single complaint from Balmoral, Hawthorne, Bulemba or Hamilton. There were four from Coorparoo, three from Seven Hills and one from Morningside.

As past Christmas approaches and the frequency of flights increases, the number of complainants increased per month, from a broad cross-section of suburbs, to 25 and remained around that level through July.

In August 2020, 300 of the 311 complainants (96.4 percent) contacted the authorities about daytime arrivals and departures, while 10 (3.2 percent) complained about night trips.

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Since August, Airservices Australia has stopped recording the number of noise complaints on its website.

But its complaints department wrote to Dr. Foley on August 25, telling him that there was no upper limit to noise in residential areas.

“There are no regulations or legislation determining noise levels for aircraft over residential areas,” their letter said. “So the noise is allowed.

“No agency is authorized to take action against aircraft that exceed a certain level of in-flight noise.”

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority monitors how low-flying aircraft fly over residential suburbs. Aircraft must not be flying less than 1,000 feet (304 meters) unless they land or depart.

Balmoral skyline near Brisbane's CBD. Its highest flight force over Dr. Sean Foley's home in Balmoral was 82 dB.

Balmoral skyline near Brisbane’s CBD. Its highest flight force over Dr. Sean Foley’s home in Balmoral was 82 dB.credit:Tony Moore

A Brisbane Airport Company spokeswoman said changes were made in August to increase the number of flights over Moreton Bay.

“In August, 90 percent of the operations were conducted over the bay between 10 pm and 6 am,” she said. “This far exceeds the 60 percent reported across the community engagement program.”

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“Based on feedback from the community and BAC, Airservices Australia has agreed to increase operating hours outside the Gulf when possible while traffic levels are low.

This had them start moving as many operations over the bay as possible in the early evening, and extend this modus operandi later in the morning.

“Between 10 pm and 6 am, aircraft are not permitted to take off or land on the new runway above the complex. The planes either need to operate over the bay – depending on weather and wind conditions – or use the existing runway.”

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The Civil Aviation Safety Authority monitors aircraft altitude and safety issues and refers noise complaints to Airservices Australia.

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said the increase in the number of complaints filed with Airservices Australia was significant.

“This is a change but, as I said, this is not something we can see, so we leave it to Airservices.”

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