The Long Term Operating Plan (LTOP)

The Sydney Airport Long Term Operating Plan is the program which has been introduced to manage the aircraft noise associated with Sydney Airport. It was drawn up through a major consultative process during 1996 and 1997. The Plan is designed to ensure that aircraft movements are maximised over water and non residential land. Where overflight of residential areas cannot be avoided the Plan aims to safely share the noise between communities.

Accessing LTOP

A copy of the Long Term Operating Plan can be downloaded below:

Development of LTOP

LTOP was developed in the mid 1990s in response to community pressure to share the noise generated by Sydney Airport.

Airservices Australia developed a report setting out options for operating the Airport in a way that shares the noise as fairly as possible. This document effectively put forward the draft Long Term Operating Plan for Sydney Airport and was released for public comment in late 1996.

A large number of comments were received and a detailed examination of these comments was published in the Proponent’s Statement prepared by the Department of Transport and Regional Development in June 1997. In response to the public comments the Proponent’s Statement proposed changes to the flight paths originally set out in the 1996 draft LTOP. Further information on the Proponent’s Statement can be found in the following link:

In July 1997 the Minister for Transport and Regional Development, the Hon John Sharp MP issued a Direction to Airservices Australia to implement the Long Term Operating Plan. A copy of the Ministerial Direction can be found at the following link:

LTOP targets

The LTOP has the following noise sharing targets for aircraft movements

  • 17% of movements to the North of the Airport
  • 13% of movements to the East of the Airport
  • 15% of movements to the West of the Airport
  • 55% of movements to the South of the Airport

The performance of LTOP against these targets is illustrated in the following Runway End Impact Diagram

LTOP Review

The Long Term Operating Plan was reviewed in 2005 following 7 years of operation.

SACF provided comments on the Review. A Supplementary Report was published in response..

Flight Paths

Under the Plan aircraft departing from the Airport to the south continue to pass either through the Botany Bay Heads or over the Kurnell Sandhills and thus avoid overflying residential areas. Departure flight paths off the other runways have been spread to reduce the concentration of noise over a small number of populated areas which existed under the previous flight path arrangements.


A key feature of the Plan is the runway rotation system. This system involves different combinations of runways (runway modes) being used at different times of the day to provide, as far as possible, individual areas with periods of respite from aircraft noise. Noise sharing modes must be used at the airport, except when weather or unusual traffic conditions prevent this occurring, during the following hours on weekdays:

  • 6am to 7am
  • 11am to 3pm
  • 8pm to curfew

Longer noise sharing hours apply at weekends. Noise sharing modes should be used at other times if the conditions permit.