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A change in the recreational aircraft flightpath: a win for the community

Credit: https://twitter.com/tristamsparks
Credit: https://twitter.com/tristamsparks

Guardians of the Bays are pleased to report that a change has finally been enacted to reduce the recreational air traffic noise that residents living in Miramar North are exposed to.

When the weather is good, planes from the Wellington Aero Club have been circling the Miramar Peninsula along what is known as the “circuit”. In doing so, they inflict the noise of their engines on thousands of residents. At times, circles exceed 50 occurrences in a day, hijacking the soundscape at the same time that residents want to enjoy being outside.

For years, the Guardians have been trying to find solutions to minimise the nuisance, meeting with the Aero Club, the Airport and WCC on several occasions. The last meeting, in April 2021, was sadly fruitless, but things are about to change.

From mid-December, a new Memorandum of Understanding between Airways and the Wellington Aero Club will be signed. This new agreement states that when recreational aircraft are departing towards the north (or on that circuit around the peninsula), their normal procedure will now be that on their Eastern turn, their right wing tip will need to be to the North of the prison (rather than at the Maupuia water towers (red circle on map below) which was their previous reference point for this purpose). If there are safety reasons where they need to turn earlier, the air control tower can require them to, however this will not be the norm.

The green marker is the new turning point for recreational aircraft

This will take recreational air traffic further away from homes, resulting in a direct reduction in exposure to noise. While this is undeniably an improvement, Guardians of the Bays will continue to advocate for the circuit to be pushed even further north (around the inhabited north of the peninsula), a change that would completely shield residents from noise.

This win, while initiated by the Guardians, is the result of a closed discussion between Wellington Airport, Airways (the organisation in charge or managing air traffic) and the Aero Club. It is a disappointment the community was not included in the last leg of the discussion. However, we acknowledge this is a step in the right direction.

In this festive season, we would like to celebrate this welcome change, and thank all parties involved in making it happen.

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