Residents riled over ‘low-flying’

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Residents in Queenstown’s Quail Rise claim they’re being bombarded by noisy Milford-bound planes flying “illegally low” over their homes.

They allege a “reasonably high proportion” are flying at less than the required height of 1000 feet, or 305 metres, above a built-up area (heights are still described in feet and inches).

Those planes are also required to fly east of the Shotover River.

Resident David Hay, who’s documented dozens of flights allegedly infringing the rules since last April, says the frequency of low-flying fixed-wing aircraft is “seriously compromising” the environment of Quail Rise and adjoining Manata Green.

“What we require is that the rules are followed at all times.

“A satisfactory outcome would be that the Milford flights be required to take a bigger loop upon take-off out over the less densely-built Shotover Delta – obviously allowing for incoming/outgoing jets – gaining the requisite height towards Slope Hill before aiming for Skippers Saddle.

“This would certainly ameliorate the noise levels and should not impair the tourist trade.”

Resident Jim Buckham, a retired pilot who logged about 18,000 flying hours, says “their excuse is that they’re still taking off – in actual fact, they’re not, they’re in a cruise-climb situation”.

“There’s no need to come over here at 700ft.”

Told yesterday about residents’ concerns, Skyline Enterprises chairman Mark Quickfall, whose company operates Milford Sound Scenic Flights, says “I’ll certainly follow up with our guys and just say, ‘there has been some communication out of Quail Rise, and let’s go and look at how we can best address it’.

“I’d like to think all the operators here are the same – we do our best to mitigate any negative impacts on people.”

Quickfall encourages residents with noise concerns to deal directly with the operator concerned, or with the Queenstown-Milford User Group, which represents all the operators.

Queenstown Airport Corporation comms manager Jen Andrews also encourages concerned residents to contact her organisation.

She says noise complaints are logged and followed up with each complainant.

Complaints also go to the airport noise liaison committee, she adds.

Airways chief operating officer Pauline Lamb says she’s also “really empathetic” towards residents’ concerns.

“We take it incredibly seriously.”

She says Airways is investigating Hay’s list of alleged infringements.

As of yesterday morning, those logged in December hadn’t been borne out, she notes.

scoop@scene.co.nz