Quarterly Report: April-June 2020

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview
  3. Complaint handling
  4. Community Engagement and Noise Information Provision
  5. Attachment 1 Complaint Statistics
  6. Attachment 2 Outstanding ANO recommendations

    Full report 836kb


This report includes complaint statistics and a summary of Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) activities during the April - June 2020 quarter. It is structured around the key functions of the ANO, these being the review and monitoring of:

  1. complaint handling and
  2. community engagement and the provision of information about aircraft noise.


2.1 From the start of April to the end of June 2020, the ANO received a total of 36 complaints, 2 of which related to Defence's management of military aircraft noise issues and 34 related to Airservices' management of civilian aircraft noise issues. Attachment 1 provides detailed complaint statistics for the quarter.
2.2 The ANO finalised two reports this quarter – the Investigation into complaints about the introduction of new flight paths in Sunshine Coast report and the Review of Airservices Australia's systems for community engagement - Final Report.  
2.3 Defence has provided an update on the progress of its remediation action plan which responds to the nine recommendations from the Compliance Audit of Australian Super Hornet Flying Operations at RAAF Base Amberley (October 2019). The ANO published an addendum to this report this quarter, clarifying the Compliance Findings categories.
2.4 The ANO office has continued its arrangements for all staff to continue to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with Government guidance. The office has successfully managed to continue all of its operations with limited disruption.
2.5 During this quarter, the ANO office farewelled long-term staff member, Kate Burmester, Senior Advisor. Kate was a founding staff member of the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman's office at its establishment in 2010 and continued to make a significant contribution to the development and growth of the office over the ensuing 10 years. We would like to thank Kate for her considerable contribution to the ANO's success and wish Kate all the best for the future.

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Complaint handling


During the quarter, the ANO received 36 new complaints, 2 of which related to Defence's aircraft noise management and 34 related to Airservices' aircraft noise management. The graph below shows that this is in line with the usual number of complaints received by the ANO office in a quarter.


Of the 36 complaints received this quarter, Mildura, Moorabbin and Parafield airports each received four complaints; Melbourne, Gold Coast and Perth airports each received three complaints; Jandakot and the Sunshine Coast airports each received two complaints; and the two complaints about Defence related to two different military bases – RAAF Base Amberley and Greenbank Military Range. The remaining six complaints were spread, one each, over eight different airports. Three complaints could not be assigned to an airport: one complaint about motorised hang gliders and two complaints regarding helicopter flights around the Gold Coast area. The graph below shows the spread of complaints by airport of concern.

3.3 While aviation operations slowed considerably over the quarter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ANO did receive quite a few inquiries and complaints about the continuing operations of flight training schools at various airports across Australia. These included flight training activities at the Gold Coast, Mildura, Moorabbin and Parafield airports.
3.4 Three hundred and forty-two cases were closed during the quarter, of which 299 were from the Sunshine Coast. As the Sunshine Coast Report recommendations have been accepted by Airservices and will lead to change, these were all reported as resulting in a change by Airservices. Two other complaints were also closed as a result of changes by Airservices.
3.5 Apart from Sunshine Coast, 43 complaints were closed during the quarter: 14 were reviewed in detail and 27 were referred back to the relevant agency for a direct response. One was out of charter scope and one complainant did not provide further information when requested.
3.6 At 1 July 2020, 35 complaints remain open. This return to more normal numbers reflects the large volume of complaints relating to the Sunshine Coast matter.
3.7 Complaint statistics for the quarter are presented at Attachment  1

Sunshine Coast

3.8 On 30 April 2020, the ANO completed its multiple complaints investigation into the new flight paths at Sunshine Coast airport and submitted its Investigation into complaints about the introduction of new flight paths in Sunshine Coast report to the Airservices Board.
3.9 The report made two recommendations for improving Airservices' community engagement framework and practices: that Airservices develop a robust and dependable framework for third party proposed changes and that Airservices use its post-implementation review process to re-engage with communities and consider community-suggested alternatives to the implemented flight paths.
3.10 On 25 June 2020, the Airservices Board provided its response to the report and accepted the ANO's recommendations and both the report and the response were published to the ANO website on 30 June 2020.
3.11 A summary of the recommendations is at Attachment 2.


3.12 The ANO is continuing to work through multiple complaints about Airservices' community engagement and implementation of new flight paths at Hobart Airport during 2018/19.

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Community Engagement and Noise Information Provision

Review of Airservices' community engagement systems

4.1 On 30 April 2020, the ANO completed its systemic review of Airservices' community engagement and submitted its Review of Airservices Australia's systems for community engagement – Final report to the Airservices Board.
4.2 The report made six recommendations which were accepted by the Board. The report was published on the ANO website on 30 June 2020.
4.3 Further to the report's recommendations, Airservices has commenced a comprehensive review of its community engagement framework, policies and practices. The ANO is developing a constructive working relationship with Airservices as it undertakes this review, including advising on policies and procedures as they are developed.
4.4 A summary of the recommendations is at Attachment 2

Compliance Audit of Defence's Super Hornet Operations at Amberley

4.5 The ANO completed a comprehensive audit of Defence's compliance with the Conditions of Approval for its Australian Super Hornet Flying Operations at RAAF Base Amberley and submitted a report to the Chief of Air Force in late October 2019.
4.6 Defence has submitted evidence demonstrating that it has addressed some of the recommendations made by the ANO, as outlined in its remediation action plan. A summary of the nine recommendations and the Defence response is at Attachment 2.
4.7 The ANO prepared an Addendum to the October 2019 report in May 2020. This was in response to a Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment request for the ANO to clarify findings that reference a compliance rating as "undetermined" to align with the updated 2019 Guidelines' Compliance Finding categories.
4.8 The ANO determined that, in each case where an 'undetermined' finding had been made, the appropriate Compliance Finding in line with the updated 2019 Guidelines is 'non-compliant'.
4.9 The Addendum has since been published on the ANO website.


Kieran Pehm
Aircraft Noise Ombudsman

7 August 2020

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Last Updated: November 25, 2020