Welcome – SMART Approaches

Flight paths in Auckland

More than 420 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. The diagram below shows these aircraft movements over two typical weeks at the airport in September 2011, prior to the SMART flight path trial.


The direction of approach and departure is wind-dependent, so air crafts also sometimes land at Auckland Airport from the south-west and depart to the north-east. The diagram below shows these aircraft movements over two typical weeks at the airport in September 2011, prior to the 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 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.

Three new SMART Approaches to Auckland Airport (two from the north and one from the south) were trialled  in 2012 and 2013, and subjected to rigorous analysis and noise measurement. A draft report on the trial was published in May 2014 and Aucklanders were invited to provide feedback on it. A series of consultation forums were held to receive submissions and a final report on the trial was published in December 2014. As a direct result of feedback from the trial and public consultation, the two trial SMART Approaches from the North (Green X23 and Blue X23) were modified to a higher altitude and a wider approach curve – to reduce aircraft noise, use even less fuel and increase efficiencies – before they came into permanent operation on 28 May 2015. The SMART Approach from the South, known as Red Y23, has continued to be flown since the trial’s conclusion and was approved for use between 7am and 10pm in the trial’s final report in December 2014. Airways New Zealand, Auckland Airport and BARNZ also agreed in the final report to trial a new SMART flight path from the north from September 2015 and to investigate whether it is possible to design an additional SMART flight path for trial from the South.

New SMART Approach flight path trial to commence 1 September  

On 28 May 2015, Auckland Airport, Airways New Zealand and BARNZ announced the details of a new satellite-guided SMART Approach trial flight path to Auckland Airport from the North.

The decision to trial this third satellite-guided flight path to Auckland Airport from the North was publicly announced by the aviation industry in December 2014, following the trial and public consultation process for the first two SMART Approaches to Auckland Airport from the North.

The trial of the new SMART Approach flight path, known as “Yellow U23”, will commence on 1 September 2015 and continue for up to 12 months. The flight path can be used between 7am and 10pm by up to 10 aircraft per day. The trial will evaluate aircraft performance; airspace management; operational benefits – including time, distance, fuel and carbon emission savings; noise monitor results; and public feedback. At the conclusion of the trial, aircraft will stop using the flight path and a draft report will be published for public consultation.

The trial flight path is higher and its approach curve is wider than the SMART Approach flight paths that were trialled in Auckland in 2012 and 2013. This is intended to reduce aircraft noise, use even less fuel and deliver benefits for the environment, and incorporates lessons from the first trial. This new path will also enable traffic to be distributed across a variety of inbound routes.

Almost all of Auckland experiences aircraft overflight. Most of the Yellow U23 trial flight path is located within the main flight corridor already used by aircraft to approach Auckland Airport from the North. The trial of the Yellow U23 flight path will mean that there will be up to 10 more flights per day over St Johns; Glen Innes; Bucklands and Eastern Beaches; Mellons Bay; Shelly Park; Whitford; and Clover Park, between 7am and 10pm.

Auckland Airport already connects Auckland to the rest of New Zealand and the world through more than 420 flights every day. The aim of this trial is to help the aviation industry to grow travel, trade and tourism in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner.