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Fly Neighbourly Advice

Introduction

A Fly Neighbourly Advice (FNA) is a voluntary code of practice established between aircraft operators and communities or authorities that have an interest in reducing the disturbance caused by aircraft within a particular area. FNAs were introduced in Australia in 1994 as a tool to reduce the effects of aviation on environmentally sensitive areas within uncontrolled airspace. The development of an FNA is facilitated by the OAR.

An FNA might include recommended limitations on operating heights, the frequency of operations and areas of operation. The nature, scope and terms of the advice are matters for the stakeholders to determine.  Arrangements for the monitoring, and adherence with, an FNA are also matters that may be addressed.

An FNA must be consistent with Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 and any air traffic management procedures applicable to the area. Mandatory aviation operating and safety procedures (as well as any aviation requirements relevant to the area) have precedence over an FNA in all circumstances.

An FNA should also acknowledge the necessity for police, fire, search and rescue, other emergency services and infrastructure-monitoring organisations to have access to low level airspace when the need arises.

Although an FNA must have the concurrence of relevant aviation authorities, it cannot be enforced under aviation law. Notification of an FNA may be published in aeronautical charts and documents. FNAs are recorded in the En Route Supplement - Australia (Special Procedures). Examples are:

  • Kakadu National Park,
  • Blue Mountains National Park, and
  • Moorabbin Training Area.

Establishing a Fly Neighbourly Advice

A decision to establish an FNA would normally be taken by a local government authority, an interested State or Commonwealth government authority, a business operator or a group formed within a community that is materially affected by the operation of aircraft.

A decision to develop an FNA would be based on identifying:

  • the extent and values of the designated area over which an FNA would cover;
  • the nature and extent of the disturbance caused by aircraft and, where possible through measurement or other scientific analysis; 
  • all principal stakeholders in the potential FNA;
  • the nature and purpose of aircraft operations that are affecting the designated area;
  • mandatory procedures that apply to aircraft operating in the proposed area of the FNA;
  • targets for reasonable reductions in the disturbance being caused by aircraft operations;
  • opportunities for aircraft operators to vary their operations to reduce disturbance without being unreasonably penalised by doing so; and
  • aviation safety requirements.

The successful development of an FNA normally requires a facilitator with the standing or authority to guide the consultation and development processes. The facilitator should preferably be a person or organisation known to and trusted by the participants involved, who can act as an independent arbiter if the need arises. In some circumstances, it may be prudent to engage a professional facilitator.

It also requires the goodwill of all parties and a willingness to compromise towards achieving the common good. The OAR is able to advise proponents on the form and content of an FNA and arrange for publication in aeronautical documentation.

Consultative processes should be open and transparent. Consultation behind closed doors is likely to drive key parties from the development process. Although the form of consultation is a matter for the stakeholders and facilitator to agree, effective public advertising of the intention to develop an FNA should be considered.

Once an FNA is drafted, it should be referred to the OAR for consideration in regard to related aviation issues. The OAR will also consult with Airservices Australia as a part of this process.

Possible Opportunities to Vary Aircraft Operations

The opportunities for an aircraft operator to vary an operation to reduce disturbances will be limited by the nature of the operation, the terrain over which the operation is conducted, the type of aircraft being used, airspace limitations and mandatory operational and safety requirements. Within these limitations, opportunities to vary operations to reduce impacts may be found in:

  • the number of operations;
  • the heights of operations;
  • flight tracks used, including the avoidance of sensitive areas and the repetitive use of particular tracks;
  • the origins and destinations of operations;
  • times of operations;
  • operating procedures available to the type of aircraft in use; and
  • changing the type of aircraft used.

Fly Neighbourly Piloting Techniques and Principles

FNA piloting techniques and principles include:

  • avoiding noise-sensitive areas:
    • follow high ambient noise routes (highways, etc); and
    • follow unpopulated routes (waterways, etc).
  • when operating near noise-sensitive areas:
    • maintain an appropriate fly-over altitude (most National Parks have suggested 1,500 to 2,000 feet above ground level);
    • maintain an appropriate hover/circling altitude;
    • speed reduction;
    • low noise speed/descent settings;
    • route variation;
    • use high take-off/descent profiles.

Height Considerations

In nominating operating heights and/or restrictions for use in an FNA, stakeholders should consider the following:

  • Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 require aircraft to maintain a minimum height of 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL) over built up areas and 500 feet over all other areas.
  • Special terrain/weather conditions that may affect the operation of aircraft, and the overlying airspace arrangements applicable to the area.

Note: recommended operating altitudes will not apply if these altitudes would jeopardise the safe conduct of the flight.

The Form of  Fly Neighbourly Advice

The wording of an FNA is a matter for the participants involved. However, an FNA would typically have the following elements:

  • a preamble that would set out the intent of the FNA;
  • the proponents of the FNA;
  • the geographic area and coordinates of the area over which the FNA would apply (including a map);
  • the matters of concern to the stakeholders affected by aircraft operations;
  • matters of concern to the aircraft operators;
  • undertakings by aircraft operators to reduce the disturbances or the impact of their operations;
  • the means of monitoring the FNA, including the identification of indicators of the performance of operators in achieving the undertakings given;
  • the means by which failure to achieve the undertakings should be considered and remedied;
  • undertakings by the aircraft operators to accept the FNA and adhere to it;
  • acknowledgement by the stake holders that emergency services including police, fire, search and rescue and infrastructure-monitoring operations may not always be able to adhere with the FNA; and
  • a process to review the FNA after a set period of time.

The FNA might cover some or all of the following areas:

Title and Definition

  • airspace management above (and if applicable, name of the National Park); and/or
  • airspace management above the (relevant geographical area).

The definition of the area covered by the FNA can be narrative, but preferably should also include a map.

Sensitive Environmental Areas (SEA)

Identify any natural environment areas or National Park areas which are considered particularly sensitive, for example due to concerns over disturbance of the environment because of vibration or noise.

Any (scenic) flight penetration into these zones would be subject to agreement with the relevant National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Avoidance of SEAs, or a minimum overflight height of X,000 feet above ground or water that might apply. The determination of the overflight height would be developed by the stake holders.

Preferred Flight Routes and Heights

Flight routes may be selected either by voluntary arrangement between aircraft operators or through discussion with other participants (particularly National Park Authorities, where appropriate). If applicable under State legislation, the prescribed routes might be described in licenses. Flight heights would depend on the local environment and apply except when landing or taking off at an aerodrome. Flight heights may also be described in future licenses. Flight routes may have a timing component in them e.g. in relation to bird-breeding seasons or other sensitive times.

‘Ground level’ is defined as the highest point of terrain, and any object on it, within a radius of 600m of a point vertically below the aircraft.

Minimum flight heights of X,000 feet above ground or water may be referenced to reduce noise and visual impact of aircraft operations. The determination of the height would be through stakeholder discussion.

Overriding Provision

All the above provisions or requests should be disregarded if, for any reason, their observance would jeopardise the safety of a flight or put a pilot in conflict with any provision of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988.

Publishing the Fly Neighbourly Advice

The establishment of an FNA should be published in local media and made available on relevant web sites, in particular, the web site maintained by relevant local government authorities. More than one local government area might be affected by an individual FNA.

Subject to the FNA meeting the required standards, an FNA may be published in aeronautical charts and the En Route Supplement Australia that contains information for pilots. Both these documents are published by Airservices Australia and are amended on a six-monthly cycle.

Summary steps to develop Fly Neighbourly Advice

The OAR has a coordinating role and provides advice and guidance how to prepare an FNA. The steps to establish an FNA1 are:

  1. FNA proponent (e.g. park authority) contacts OAR to facilitate the establishment of FNA.
  2. OAR provides proponent with FNA information and guidelines and industry contact details.
  3. Proponent prepares draft FNA for OAR and Convenor Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committee (RAPAC) comment.
  4. OAR invites proponent to RAPAC meeting to discuss draft FNA with regional aviation community.
  5. Proponent incorporates feedback from stakeholders into draft FNA.
  6. Proponent finalises FNA.
  7. FNA forwarded by OAR to Airservices Australia Aeronautical Information Service for publication (subject to criteria).
  8. FNA published in En Route Supplement Australia (ERSA) by Airservices Australia and advertised by the proponent.