Pilots campaign against ‘risky’ increase to tailwind speed at Brisbane Airport

Commercial pilots believe increasing the maximum tailwind speed for landing planes at Brisbane Airport in a bid to reduce noise would be too risky.

A professional body representing more than 7000 Australian pilots has begun a public campaign against the move to increase the maximum tailwind for landing aircraft from 5 knots to 7 knots in Brisbane.

Airservices Australia and the Brisbane Airport Corporation have been under pressure to address complaints about aircraft noise since Brisbane’s new parallel runway opened in July 2020.

One recommendation was to ask the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to raise the maximum tailwind speed for landing aircraft.

Because of the prevailing wind direction over Brisbane Airport, this would mean more flights could arrive over Moreton Bay, which would reduce noise over the suburbs,

But Captain Tony Lucas, president of the Australian Airline Pilots’ Association, said increasing the tailwind speed was too risky for pilots.

He said aircraft are designed to land and take off into the wind, which lowers the ground speed, increases lift, and helps reduce fuel use and the length of runway required.

It means we can use less thrust when we take off, which means less noise, and it is better for fuel usage, better for the environment, and better for the engines, he said.

It also means that if we use less runway, if something goes awry, we have extra room available if we have to stop doing a rejected take-off, or an aborted take-off.

Whereas, if we have tailwind, it means we use more runway, and it means we are at a higher ground speed when we get airborne.

When we are landing, the same thing applies. When we land with tailwind, we use more of the runway, we stay on the runway longer. We might have to use full reverse thrust, instead of no reverse thrust.

That then becomes a noise and fuel issue.

Aircraft noise over Brisbane Airport was a factor during the recent federal poll.

Lucas said few people understood the difference between landing into a 10-knot headwind at 225 kilometres an hour and landing with a 10-knot tailwind at 275 kilometres an hour.

He said that difference of 50 kilometres an hour becomes a real issue.

Lucas, who flies A330 aircraft, said no Australian airport allowed a tailwind speed above 5 knots, and he urged the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to reject the push to 7 knots.

Definitely not in Australia. And any airports around the world that do use a 7-knot tailwind would do so in contravention of the guidelines set out by

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said it was investigating the application to increase the tailwind speed, but it confirmed no other Australian airport used a tailwind speed above 5 knots.

A maximum tailwind of 5 knots is the internationally recognised safety standard for runway nomination at a controlled airport, and CASA has not approved a higher limit at any other airport in Australia, a spokeswoman said.

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