Sabtu, 02 Agustus 2014

Air Force exercise Pitch Black takes off over Darwin and Katherine, residents brace for noise (ABC)

Darwin and Katherine residents are bracing for the noise of the world's air forces flying overhead as the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) commences its largest and most complex exercise, Pitch Black.

Up to 110 aircraft from the air forces of the United States, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates will fly in the skies between Darwin and Katherine for the 22-day biennial exercise which officially started today.

The event takes place every two years and typically draws complaints from some residents who say the jets are too loud.

For Pamela Trotman, living under the military flight path in the suburb of Ludmilla adjacent to the RAAF Base Darwin, the exercise exacerbates her year-round problems with aircraft noise.

She said she had recorded jet noises as loud as 100 decibels at home.

According to the RAAF, at Ludmilla Primary School the average maximum noise of an F/A-18 Hornet taking off from the RAAF Base Darwin is 92.6dB.

"The whole house literally shakes," she said. "It's impossible to conduct conversations. You can't hear the radio.

"You feel the soundwaves hitting your body."

Ms Trotman has lived at the address for 21 years and since 2005 worked from home as a counsellor for military veterans.

"The worst part is not being able to predict when the noise will come," she said.

"You don't know when it's coming. It's Chinese water torture.

"Then you start to hear it coming and your whole body tenses up."

In the first week of Pitch Black, August 4-8, aircraft will be flying in the day only.

The following two weeks include jets taking off and landing at night, but pilots have been directed to minimise noise over suburban Darwin by not using afterburner thrust as well as taking a more gradual flight path.

Wing Commander Wes Perrett said high noise levels were unavoidable, particularly near the RAAF bases in Darwin and Katherine.

"Unfortunately there are increased noise levels around that area," he said

That occurs predominantly because of a manoeuvre called the initial pitch manoeuvre.

"We utilise this around busy airfields such as the RAAF base in Darwin to bring large numbers of aircraft out of the sky as quickly as possible.

Group Captain Michael Gray said the next three weeks will be noisy for Darwin and Katherine residents, but efforts have been made to keep the impact to a minimum.

"We have looked and have implemented as many procedures as we can and we're always listening," he said.

"There's great support from the community for the exercise and there's also a lot of feedback.

"Some is very robust and we welcome it.

"We don't want people feeling they don't have a voice and aren't being listened to."

Pitch Black flying exercises will not begin until Monday.

The exercise promotes international co-operation and is expected to inject several million dollars into the local community.

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