Saturday, September 14, 2013
Do you understand the Airplane Noise Issue affecting Southwest Minneapolis?
A new flight control system that will at least partially be implemented at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport will concentrate more planes over our neighborhoods.
What will happen?
The new system allows plans to use GPS navigation to guide planes in a much narrower flight pattern during takeoff and landings. The end result might be that planes will fly directly over the same houses night after night, with very little variance. Currently planes use slightly more fuel taking a wider berth in approaching and leaving the airport.
What don't we know?
One major concern expressed at the late August meeting was that there have not been reliable results from environmental studies examining the potential health effects of repeated noise from airplanes. Ellison and Paulsen wanted to learn more in order to shape legislative policies.
This new FAA system has been implemented in many major airports. The New York Times quoted one aviation consultant, who strongly backs a noise study, and advises that the maximum allowable level of 65 decibels (to reduce hearing loss) should be lowered to 55 decibels, because of a wider realization that noise level affects high blood pressure and stress. Lower noise levels, he told The Times, also leads to better sleep, better school grades, and more valuable houses.
One New Yorker who commented on the new noise level in Queens, New York, said, from 6am to 2am, "You can’t even have a conversation in your own living room. You can’t hear the television. You can’t talk on the phone."
What do the FAA and airlines say?
The FAA told The Times that airline noise actually affects fewer households, since the planes come in at a narrower berth. The FAA and airlines also say the more precise navigation allows them to glide in rather than keep engines powered up, resulting in lower emissions and less noise. But whether this impact has been underestimated, or understated, is not yet known.
(For more interesting information from this article, click here.)
Do you want to learn more?
Locally, several Minneapolis residents are leading the way toward greater discussion of this issue -- and keeping pressure on the FAA to not simply quietly implement a new plan.
One local advocate is Michael Kehoe, who reported on the e-democracy forum: "From this point on, we may have to be prepared to be more active than in the recent past. The FAA is determined to put this plan into operation and we will have to periodically stand together and to make our views known... We must be prepared to put ourselves out and attend a meeting or sign a petition when it's needed. Only by standing together and insisting that our quality of life is more important than the airlines saving a very small amount of money, will we have any chance of winning this very difficult battle. Remember this, we are not asking for complete non-implementation of their master plan - we only want an adjustment that will maintain our quality of life. Once the airplanes have taken off and reached an appropriate altitude (perhaps 4,000 ft.) they can then tap into the RNAV/PBN protocols and continue their navigation according to that system."
For more information, also read this Star Tribune article.
What do you think? Have you participated in the discussions? What can you share about the issue?