FAQs | Flight Paths

We have prepared a series of frequently asked questions to help our community better understand flight path changes and what the new runway means for them.

Why have the flight paths at Sunshine Coast Airport changed?

The new runway is oriented differently to the former runway — it is longer and wider to accommodate wide-body aircraft. This means changes to flight paths are necessary to achieve safe and efficient operations for the Airport and the community. 

How were the flight paths determined?

The new flights paths were developed by Airservices Australia and validated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), based on design concepts developed by Sunshine Coast Council. 

As Australia’s air navigation service provider, Airservices is responsible for airspace management and the design of flight paths. 

The airspace change and flight paths for the new runway are in alignment with the approved Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and take into account safety, efficiency, regulatory and environmental constraints. 

How were the flight paths approved?

CASA’s Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) is responsible for approving changes to airspace. 

On  October 2019, CASA OAR provided Airservices Australia with approval for changes to airspace volumes to support operations for the new runway. 

Changes to flights paths were assessed on safety, protection of the environment, efficient use of airspace, equitable access, national security, current and future needs of the Australian aviation industry, and advances in technology. 
To read more about the approval process for Sunshine Coast Airport, visit Airservices’ website. 

What benefits will the new runway bring?

The new runway will significantly enhance the capacity of Sunshine Coast Airport, opening new doors for passenger travel, local exports and the promotion of local tourism growth.  

The new runway is safer, provides greater capacity, and will have a higher usability than the existing runway. It caters for all current aviation users of the Airport and accommodates wide-body passenger aircraft, enabling capacity for long-haul flights to reach new domestic and international destinations. 

Accommodating wide-body aircraft also means we can better support agribusiness by providing improved air freight capacity for local producers to export their goods to more markets. High-value, low-volume exports will dispatch from the Airport as freight in the belly of existing passenger aircraft. 

We’re committed to working hard to make sure we can support the economic aspirations of the region while being sensitive to the needs of our community. 

What changes can we expect?

The change in flight path means far fewer people will experience aircraft noise compared to what is currently experienced by households in the Sunshine Coast region. A change in the runway’s orientation howeverhas meant changes for some people in our community.  

New flight paths at Sunshine Coast Airport have been designed to optimally align with prevailing wind conditions when taking off and landing on the new runway. 

Each end of Runway 13/31 reflects the runway’s orientation, with Runway 13 at the north-west end, and Runway 31 at the south-east end. This indicates which end of the runway pilots should use to start their take-off or landing based on wind conditions. In easterly winds, which are typical for the Airport’s location, aircraft will use Runway 13, arriving over land from the north-west and departing over the ocean to the south-east. When winds are westerly, aircraft will use Runway 31, arriving over the ocean and taking off over land to the north-west. 

These means residents in communities including Doonan, Cooroy and Verrierdale may be exposed to some aircraft noise as a result of the new runway.

Under the Noise Abatement Procedure Airservices Australia have nominated a preferred runway. The preferred runway however may not be able to be used in certain situations for example weather conditions or operational requirements. Further information about the Noise Abatement Procedure can be found on our website or through Airservices Australia website under Aircraft in Your Neighbourhood

How is noise managed at Sunshine Coast Airport?

We remain committed to working collaboratively with government, industry and the community to manage aircraft noise. We have a number of measures in place to help us balance both community and operational needs to ensure the Airport’s growth is appropriate and sensitive to our community. 

Our Fly Neighbourly Agreements (FNA) for Fixed Wing and Helicopters  aims to limit general aviation activity between the hours of 10.00pm and 7.00am. 

We also have mandatory noise abatement procedures for large commercial passenger plans, meaning airlines must receive Airport approval to take-off or land between the hours of 11.00pm and 5.30pm. Permission may be granted due to poor weather, engineering issues or other unplanned factors. 

What will I hear?

Aircraft noise is influenced by a number of different factors and the level of noise you hear from an aircraft during take off, landing and during flight can vary. 

 An Aircraft Noise Information Tool has been developed to allow you to review indicative aircraft noise modelling for the operations associated with Runway 13/31 for 2020 and future forecast operations in 2040, including flight paths and typical number of jet overflights per day.

This information generally applies to commercial jets and larger aircraft which are required to use the designated flight paths. Dependant on factors including weather and aircraft type, some general aviation and training activity may not strictly follow the flight paths.

Learn more about aircraft noise here. 


What will I see?

 Runway 13

West communities (Cooroy, Eumundi, Doonan, Weyba, Yandina Creek)

North west communities (Cooroy, Federal, Traveston)

Inner north communities (Doonan, Noosa, Castaways Beach, Peregian Beach)

North east communities (Tinbeerwah, Tewantin, Noosa, Sunshine Beach)

Inner south communities (Marcoola, Bli Bli, Mooloolaba, Buddina)

South communities (Warana, Moffat Beach, Caloundra)

 Runway 31 

West communities (Cooroy, Eumundi, Doonan, Weyba, Yandina Creek)

North west communities (Cooroy, Federal, Traveston)

Inner north communities (Doonan, Noosa, Castaways Beach, Peregian Beach)

North east communities (Tinbeerwah, Tewantin, Noosa, Sunshine Beach)

Inner south communities (Marcoola, Bli Bli, Mooloolaba, Buddina)

South communities (Warana, Moffat Beach, Caloundra)

The engage.airservicesaustraia.com website also provides further information about Sunshine Coast Airport including the ability for you to search your address in the Interactive Map here, which presents the arrival and departure flight paths to both ends of the runway.

What is happening to Runway 18/36?

Runway 18/36 was decommissioned as part of the Council’s SCAEP project and the southern section of the former runway 18/36 was repurposed as a taxiway to serve the southern apron area and access to the main apron area. 

Why is the former Runway 18/36 being used for a taxiway?

Following Sunshine Coast Council’s detailed design process for the new runway project, Council confirmed that wide-bodied aircraft parking would need to be located to the eastern side of the terminal to meet airspace protection  requirements. This meant that important safety standards could not be maintained on Runway 18/36 and therefore it was decommissioned. The southern 1000m of the existing runway has been repurposed as a taxiway.

Why couldn’t the northern portion of Runway 18/36 be re-established as a runway?

Sunshine Coast Airport considered retaining the pavement of the northern portion of Runway 18/36 to establish a new, shorter Runway 18/36 running 800 metres in length, for use by general aviation traffic. A safety and risk analysis carried out found this configuration would introduce a number of safety and operational risks, in particular:

– a short runway on the same alignment as a taxiway increases the risk  that a pilot  may view the taxiway as a continuation of the runway from the air.

– converging runway operations, where the two runways extended centerlines meet in close proximity to the landing thresholds of each runway.

Both these issues are considered unacceptable safety risks. The information from  the International Air Transport Association and the US Federal Aviation Administration, together with the information from expert aviation consultants led Sunshine Coast Airport to decide to not re-stablish Runway 18/36 in a shortened form.

What will the area in the north east be used for in future?

The Sunshine Coast Airport Master Plan 2040 identified the northern portion of runway 18/36 as the Airport North Precinct. While its future use is yet to be determined, it will offer the potential for developments which may include:

– Logistics

– Freight facilities

– Showrooms and workshops

– Food and beverage

– Complementary retail

– Public domain/open space

– Commercial

– Car parking.

We’re committed to working with our stakeholders to help shape the future of the site.

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