Welcome – SMART Approaches

Flight paths in Auckland

More than 450 flights land and take off at Auckland Airport every day. As a result, almost all of Auckland experiences overflight by arriving and/or departing aircraft.

Aircraft predominantly land at Auckland Airport from the north-east and depart to the south-west (when the runway operates like this it is known as Runway 23L). The diagram below shows these aircraft movements over two typical weeks at the airport in September 2011, prior to the first SMART flight path trial.


The direction of approach and departure is wind-dependent, so aircraft also sometimes land at Auckland Airport from the south-west and depart to the north-east (when the runway operates like this it is known as Runway 05R). The diagram below shows these aircraft movements over two typical weeks at the airport in September 2011, prior to the first SMART flight path trial.

SMART Approaches

Airways New Zealand, Auckland Airport and the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) have been working together to trial and implement new flight paths, called SMART Approaches, into Auckland Airport.

The SMART Approaches use satellite-based navigation and enable aircraft to burn less fuel, emit less carbon dioxide and fly more quietly. They contribute to international aviation carbon dioxide-emission reduction proposals and are aligned with the Government’s National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan.

The SMART Approaches help Auckland to be better connected to the rest of New Zealand and the world. They are in line with global developments and safely enable the growth of Auckland Airport, which is vital to New Zealand’s economy.

Four SMART Approach flight paths currently operate at Auckland Airport, two from the north and two from the south. The diagram below shows the SMART Approach flight paths. Green X23A descends from the north to Runway 23L. Red Y23 descends from the south to Runway 23L. Blue X05A descends from the north to Runway 05R. Black Y05 approaches Runway 05R from the south.

Airways designed and proposed these four SMART Approach flight paths in line with civil aviation requirements at the request of the participating airlines. Civil Aviation Rule (CAR) Part 173 required Auckland Airport to agree that the airport could be used for the SMART Approach flight paths before any flight path was implemented. After an assessment of the routes, in 2011, Auckland Airport agreed to the implementation of one SMART Approach flight path from the south onto Runway 05R (Black Y05), and to the trial of the three other SMART Approach flight paths (Green X23, Blue X05 and Red Y23).

The Blue X05A and the Green X23A SMART Approach flight paths can only be used by aircraft between 7am and 10pm. A maximum of 10 flights per day can use each of the Blue X05A and Green X23A SMART Approach flight paths. The Black Y05 SMART Approach flight path from the south to Runway 05R and the Red Y23 SMART Approach flight path from the south to Runway 23L are available 24 hours a day uncapped.

A third SMART Approach to Auckland Airport from the north, known as the ‘Yellow U23 SMART Approach, was trialled between September 2015 and August 2016.

Draft Report published on the Yellow U23 Trial Smart Approach Flight Path

In October 2017, Airways New Zealand, Auckland Airport and the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) published the draft report on the 2015–2016 trial of the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path.

The 12-month trial of the flight path (shown below) commenced on 1 September 2015 and concluded on 31 August 2016. The flight path was used between 7am and 10pm by up to 10 aircraft per day.

The Yellow U23 SMART Approach was flown by 440 aircraft during the trial, saving 3,175 nautical miles and 76,536 kilogrammes of fuel, and reducing carbon emissions by 241,852 kilogrammes. Noise experts concluded that the difference in noise exposure on a day with 10 Yellow U23 SMART Approach flights and a day with no Yellow U23 SMART Approach flights was less than one decibel, or imperceptible, at most noise monitor sites.

The draft report’s recommendations include: that the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path be adopted for operational use in late 2017; that it only be used between 7am and 10pm; that a maximum of six flights per day use the flight path; and that the maximum number of flights per day can be increased to 10 in the future if certain conditions, outlined in the draft report, are met. The draft report also recommends that a third satellite-guided flight path to Auckland Airport from the south be trialled from July 2018.

Airways, Auckland Airport and BARNZ invite people interested in the Yellow U23 trial to read the draft report and provide feedback on its contents and the draft recommendations. Written submissions on the draft report will be accepted until 5pm on 15 November 2017. There will also be opportunities for those making submissions to present their views in person.

Click here to download a copy of the draft report on the 2015-2016 Yellow U23 SMART Approach Flight Path Trial.

Click here to make a submission and provide feedback on the 2015-2016 Yellow U23 SMART Approach Flight Path Trial Draft Report and its recommendations.