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Sydney Airport Tour

Sydney airport satellite photo

Sydney Airport is one of only two airports in the world that operate tours around the tarmac (the other is in San Diego, USA). I went on the Sydney Airport tour today, and you can get yourself on the next tour through their website.

The tour goes for a little over 2 hours and covers the vast majority of the airport. It is definitely a tour for aircraft nerds, with a ton of statistics and history being relayed by the very knowledgeable driver the entire time. I do think that even non-nerds would enjoy the close up look at an amazing facility that, these days, many dismiss as little more than a big bus stop.

The most interesting parts for me were the hangers with vehicles under maintenance (including the huge Qantas Airbus A380), seeing a Boeing 747 take off at close range and seeing how friendly all the airport employees are. The tower controllers roll up their blinds and wave, all the pilots wave, the ground crew all wave and even maintenance crew are happy to wave while sitting inside a jet engine. It sounds kind of lame, but you really do feel privileged to be part of a close airport community (even if it has 32,000 employees within it’s fences).

I can recommend the tour to anyone, I did it as a Father’s Day present and I think it was perfectly suited to that. They offer daytime and nighttime tours. I did the daytime and it is probably the nerdier of the two (less food, more time on the tarmac). Enjoy and comment! 🙂

Sydney Airport Noise

sydneyairport_city_bgSydney Airport (SYD) is one of the oldest continually operating airports in the world. This also means that the city of Sydney has slowly grown around the airport over the years, with many people now living directly under the flight path. This is particularly true for those in the inner west. When buying a home in this area it is important to do some research as to whether you will be affected by the flight paths. The weekend flight paths are often very different from those during the week. The street seems sleepy and quiet during the Saturday Open for Inspection, but during the week you might be able to feel the windows rattle as a 747 thunders in to land. The curfew from 11pm until 6am does help, however airlines are allowed to break the curfew (for a fee) and of course a curfew is not guaranteed to stand forever (especially now that Macquarie Bank owns the airport).

Sydney Airport Noise Contours - Q3 2008

Sydney Airport Noise Contours - Q3 2008

So what can you do? The first website you should visit is the Air Services Australia site, in particular their Noise Exposure Index Reports section. Attachment D is particularly interesting, the report provides noise contour charts that are overlaid on an abstract map of Sydney. The various coloured lines and shading show the regions exposure to aircraft noise. The noise contours for July-September 2008 are shown to the right. The rest of the report is also interesting, as it shows changes in noise and movements over time, notes reasons for some of the changes (i.e. the east west runway currently being closed due to a safety upgrade) and the types of planes.

Some of the councils affected by aircraft noise also have noise exposure reports on their websites (although they are often difficult to find). For example Marrickville Council provides a Australian Noise Exposure Forecast 2023/2024 (ANEF) Map. This provides forecasted noise exposure information to those people looking to live in or around the Marrickville region. This means you can not only see what the noise levels are like currently, but also predict whether you will be affected in the future. With constant delays and indecision still preventing the construction of the second Sydney Airport, it seems wise to plan for aircraft noise being a staple of Sydney for a long time to come.

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