Australians living around RAAF Base Amberley will have to brace for more noise with the introduction of the F/A-18 Super Hornet starting in March/April 2010. That’s when the first of the initial twelve Super Hornets are to arrive, with the remaining dozen coming in 2011.
In a draft environmental impact statement, the Australian defense ministry talks about the differences in noise patterns between the aircraft types, but also lays out the steps it has taken to minimize their effect. For instance, there are no plans for regular night flying between Friday-Sunday, and take-offs and landings are also restricted to the north-south runway.
Still the basic can’t be changed. As the RAAF points out “As result of a higher maximum noise level and an increase in the number of movements, the Super Hornet will have a greater noise impact that the F-111. More people around RAAF Base Amberley will be exposed to aircraft noise of a level which is likely to be noticeable.”
Overall, the RAAF plans 4,648 Super Hornet movements per aircraft per year at Amberley. Although the number of aircraft movements will be up, the RAAF notes the flight activity is still below what major civilian airport see.
The service also details how Super Hornet operations will differ from those of the venerable F-111. For instance, the F/A-18s will fly shorter missions, but more of them. The higher reliability should also drive up the number of flights. They will also usually fly in groups of two or four aircraft, whereas F-111s often flew alone. There should also be less low-altitude flying with the Super Hornet.
Of course, the biggest set back will be that the Super Hornet can’t provide the spectacular wall of fire at an air show – an omission in the environmental statement.