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RAAF Base Williamtown and Salt Ash Air Weapons Range

Noise Mitigation

Air Force has an honest and open approach about the noise experienced by residents living near RAAF Base Williamtown.

Air Force’s Aircraft Noise Management Strategy outlines how Air Force is working with local communities to reduce noise impacts whilst balancing operational and training requirements.

Air Force commits to undertake flying operations in a manner which is considerate of our local communities, whilst maintaining the safe operation of the aircraft.

Air Force endeavour to adhere to the Air Force Fly Neighbourly Policy for minimising aircraft noise. The principles of this policy are:

  • using appropriate runway length for departures to maximise height over local communities;
  • minimising the use of afterburner on fast jets during takeoff and climbing to altitude as quickly as possible;
  • limiting the speed of aircraft over populated areas;
  • minimising flight over residential areas and other noise sensitive buildings such as hospitals and schools;
  • avoiding low flying over populated areas and known noise sensitive areas such as large livestock yards;
  • minimising flying late at night or early in the morning;
  • conducting aircraft noise awareness in pilot training and familiarisation; and
  • notifying local communities of major exercises or other non-routine training and flying activities such as flying displays.

As part of the Environmental Impact Statement for the flying operations of F-35A, the runway at RAAF Base Williamtown will be extended which will allow the majority of F-35A take-offs to be conducted without the use of afterburners reducing noise impacts to surrounding communities.

Flying at RAAF Base Williamtown is minimised late at night, however military aircraft may take off and land at any time.

Where possible, major exercises and training activities will also be highlighted on the RAAF Base Williamtown page on the Air Force website and on other forms of social media.

RAAF Base Williamtown is running a trial to introduce noise abatement procedures for civilian aircraft approaches and departures. This trial supports the work Air Force has already initiated through its Fly Neighbourly policy.

The trial procedures require civilian aircraft, between 6am to 8am, to depart from runway 12 (towards the south-east) and arrive on runway 30 (from the south-west) when prevailing weather conditions and traffic patterns allow.

Number 453 Squadron Williamtown Air Traffic Control Flight enlisted the co-operation of airlines that operate to and from Williamtown to adopt these procedures.

The only time pilots do not have to comply is when local weather conditions make this approach unsafe, or other airspace restrictions are in place.

If civil aircraft need to depart to the north-west (over Medowie and Raymond Terrace) they are required to follow a procedure that mirrors the Base’s Fly Neighbourly Policy which requires aircraft to depart over Grahamstown Dam.

The other exception is when the Instrument Landing System (ILS) is required and then aircraft will approach over Raymond Terrace.

Circuit Training

Circuit training, the act of repetitive take-offs, approaches and landings, known as a ‘touch and go’, is an essential stage of practical pilot training. It involves making approaches to the runway, touching down and then applying power to take-off again. Military jets at RAAF Base Williamtown limit this due to civil traffic at the Airport however it remains an important skill for pilots to master.

Initial and Pitch

Most military aircraft (F/A 18A/B Hornet, Hawk 127 and PC-9/A) based at RAAF Base Williamtown normally perform an arrival procedure known as ‘initial and pitch’.

Low flying operations

These are kept to a minimum and only used for specialist training outcomes.  Low flying area airspace is designated over the Salt Ash Weapons Range, in the Western Airspace approximately 200km from RAAF Base Williamtown and in areas south of Forster and Tuncurry.

Helicopter training is conducted by the RAAF Williamtown CHC Search and Rescue Helicopter.  Black Hawk helicopters are sometimes deployed from RAAF Base Williamtown as part of specialist Defence training.

Night flying

Military night flying is restricted as much as operationally practicable. Night flying from RAAF Williamtown can be conducted until 2200 hours local time or 2300 hours during daylight saving.  However, from time to time, specialist training is conducted at the Base after these times.

Noise Monitoring

RAAF Base Williamtown has in place a comprehensive Noise and Flight Path Monitoring System (NFPMS).  A series of improvements to the way flight track information is presented has occurred in 2014.

The NFPMS at RAAF Base Williamtown provides information about military and civilian aircraft noise for the public in a format that is easy to read and understand.

More information about RAAF Base Williamtown’s NFPMS is available here

Aircraft Noise Exposure Forecasts

Aircraft Noise Exposure Forecast maps are also available for RAAF Base Williamtown and Newcastle Airport and includes Salt Ash Air Weapons Range.

Residents should consider the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) maps, which provide the best information about aircraft noise exposure near Defence airfields. ANEF maps provide a forecast of noise for a future year, made by both civilian and military aircraft for that location. They do not show every flight and homeowners with properties outside of the ANEF map zones may still experience aircraft noise.

An interactive site enables residents to better understand the flight paths and associated noise events for all aircraft (including commercial aircraft) departing or landing at RAAF Base Williamtown. Residents are encouraged to access the underlying data and perform their own analysis through this link - http://www.defence.gov.au/AircraftNoise/nfpms/Default.asp.