Outcomes of the SMART Approaches trials

Results from the 2015-2016 Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path trial

On 20 October 2017, Airways New Zealand, Auckland Airport and the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) published the draft report on the trial of the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path. On 20 October 2017, Airways New Zealand, Auckland Airport and the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) published the draft report on the trial of the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path.

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. The 12-month trial of the flight path, known as the ‘Yellow U23 SMART Approach’, 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. The fuel saved by airlines during the trial was enough to fly a B777 aircraft return Auckland–Sydney twice.

Data was gathered from eight noise monitors in the community during the trial, four of which were located under or near the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path. 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 monitor sites. There were two exceptions to this – in Whitford where the difference was a “just perceptible” four decibel difference and in Remuera where the difference was an “imperceptible” two decibel difference.

Additional information about the results of the 2015-2016 Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path trial is available in the draft report and in the accompanying reports by Airways New Zealand, BARNZ and Marshall Day Acoustics. Click here to see these reports.

The following recommendations have been made to Auckland Airport by the trial partners as a result of the 2015-2016 Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path trial:

1. The Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path to Auckland Airport should be adopted for operational use in late 2017.

2. A maximum of six flights per day may use the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path.

3. Aircraft may only use the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path between the hours of 7am and 10pm.

4. The number of Yellow U23 SMART Approaches per day may be increased to a maximum of 10, provided that:

a) Auckland Airport is satisfied that there is a consistent and ongoing demand for the additional Yellow U23 SMART Approaches

b) Any increase in the maximum number of Yellow U23 SMART Approaches above six per day is staged

c) The Aircraft Noise Community Consultative Group (ANCCG) has been consulted on the proposal to increase the maximum number of Yellow U23 SMART Approaches to above six per day.

In addition to the above recommendations relating to the Yellow U23 SMART Approach flight path, the following recommendation is also made to Auckland Airport by the trial partners:

5. A further SMART Approach flight path to Auckland Airport from the south to Runway 23L (Orange T23) should be trialled from July 2018, provided that all trial methodology and assessment criteria have been confirmed including public notification prior to the trial and a public consultation process at its conclusion.

Airways, BARNZ and Auckland Airport will consider all feedback before publishing a final report in December 2017.

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.

Implementation of two SMART Approaches from the North from 28 May 2015

In April 2015, Auckland Airport, the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ) and Airways New Zealand announced that two new SMART satellite-guided flight paths to Auckland Airport from the North would come into permanent operation from 28 May 2015.

The decision to implement the two satellite-guided flight paths was publicly announced in December 2014, following a trial and public consultation process. The new flight paths which have been implemented were modified as a result of feedback from the trial and public consultation to reduce aircraft noise, use even less fuel and deliver benefits for the environment. Each of these flight paths can be used between 7am and 10pm by up to 10 aircraft per day.

Satellite guidance enables aircraft to fly an improved flight path and these two new flight paths are higher in places, and their approach curves wider, than the paths used in the trial. This means that aircraft can reduce the use of thrust and speed brakes, making them quieter and allowing the aircraft to save fuel, cut carbon emissions and land more efficiently.

The new paths contribute to the modernisation of airspace and air navigation in New Zealand, by improving the efficiency of air traffic movements. The benefits for New Zealand include a commitment to the continued improvement of aviation safety, lower aircraft operating costs through fuel savings and lower carbon emissions.

With more than 420 flights every day, Auckland Airport connects Auckland to the rest of New Zealand and the world. These new satellite-guided flight paths will help grow travel, trade and tourism in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner.

Results from the 2012-2013 SMART Approaches flight path trial

The initial trial in 2012 and 2013 found that SMART Approaches reduced flight times and led to a significant reduction in fuel burn and carbon emissions.

During the course of this initial trial, an average of 20 flights per day used the SMART Approaches and flew 151,185 fewer nautical miles, resulting in a 3.357 million kilogramme reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and a 1.064 million kilogramme reduction in fuel use. Additional results are in the table below.

Independent acoustics consultants also measured the impact of SMART Approaches on noise levels over residential areas. They determined that while individual SMART flights had marginally higher noise levels (approximately three decibels higher on average), the difference was not regarded as significant and would be expected to be only just perceptible to the human ear. The one exception to this was at Reinheimer Place in Flat Bush, where the difference was a perceptible seven decibels.
From September 2015 all jets flying conventional flight paths from the north will no longer be able to make visual approaches to Auckland Airport. Visual approaches are considered to create more noise than instrument-based approaches. Visual approaches to the airport from the north by wide-body jets, such as the B777, were stopped in September 2014.

However, this will not eliminate all lower than normal over flight. On occasion, Airways New Zealand may instruct pilots to fly a lower than normal approach for the purposes of safety or the sequencing of aircraft on final approach when the airspace is congested.