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FAA reconsiders rise in airport noise over parts of south Minneapolis

11/28/2011 Update:

From Jason Stone – a South Minneapolis Organizer
jason.stone@yahoo.comPlease find below a three-part, urgent ACTION REQUEST on AIRPORT NOISE. FAA and MAC have not answered any questions posed by neighbors… or city officials, while they have admitted there are unstated reasons behind the recent plague of noise and vibration. There is an opportunity for change, but only if pressure remains. What do we want?  A return to the previous established flight pattern.

– ACTIONS –
1. MAC PUBLIC MEETING 12/8
Metropolitan Airports Commission6040 28th Avenue South, Minneapolis (just south of Hwy 62)
Free parking available
Noise “Public Open House”
December 8, 2011
5:30pm
This meeting was characterized as an Open House over a 3-hour time period, with officials speaking with individuals one-on-one, teaching us about airplane noise and airport operations. In contrast, we have asked for answers which are not forthcoming, and view a friendship-building “open house” as a diversion from our purpose. So we are asking the community to show up together, at 5:30pm, so that we can repeat our concerns and ask for answers together.2. CALL CONGRESSMAN KEITH ELLISON 12/8
Federal officials are in the best position to influence the FAA and this issue isn’t on Keith’s radar yet. Express your concern, impact on your family, and that you want flight patterns returned to the previous pattern. Flight density (flights running in quick succession in a concentrated time period) is a key reason for flight safety concerns), so reducing flight density is an important alternative to protecting flight safety while also reducing impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.
612-522-1212

3. CALL SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR 12/8
Amy sits on the Senate Aviation Subcommittee.
612-727-5220

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11/21/2011 Update:

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) will be hosting a noise information public open house for members of the community who are interested in learning about aircraft noise measurements and metrics, the MSP Noise Oversight Committee, historical aircraft arrival and departure data, and other MAC Noise Program functions.

The open house will be held on December 8, 2011 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the at the MAC General Offices located at 6040 28th Avenue South, Minneapolis.  For more information please call 612-725-6455.

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Star Tribune Article
By Pat Doyle
Nov 16, 2011

A top federal aviation official at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport said Wednesday he’ll investigate whether factors other than a change in takeoff procedures contributed to increased noise over parts of south Minneapolis.

“I tend to agree … that it can’t be just one thing that is doing what people are experiencing,” Carl Rydeen, assistant air traffic manager at MSP, told an airport noise panel. “That’s part of the issue that we are reviewing.”

His comments came in response to more questions from Minneapolis officials and homeowners about increased noise over some neighborhoods in the past year.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration in September attributed additional noise to a decision to route more departures over the neighborhoods as a safety measure. The change reduced the potential for planes to cross flight paths and began after a near-collision between a commercial jetliner and a cargo plane in September 2010. But City Council Member John Quincy expressed skepticism Wednesday that the change alone caused “such a dramatic and sudden increase in aircraft noise.”

The FAA review will consider whether changes in the types of aircraft, their altitude over the neighborhoods and other takeoff procedures played a role, said Rydeen, an FAA official.

“We don’t have enough data yet,” he said. “I want to assure you that the FAA takes these concerns seriously.”

Fueling the skepticism of some residents, the change that sent more flights over their homes had been in effect for a year before it was disclosed in September.

Flights over the Keewaydin and Ericsson neighborhoods from the closest runway increased 33 percent from January to September over the same period in 2010. The increase occurred even as overall departures from the runway declined.

While the neighborhoods still experience significantly less airplane noise than some other areas, the increase represents a big change for them.

“The noise that you’re not used to is obnoxious,” Odia Wood-Krueger, an area resident, told members of the Noise Oversight Committee.

Many of the residents who have complained of noise live outside the boundaries established years ago for noise-proofing homes. Chad Leqve, in charge of noise management for the Airports Commission, said the increased noise isn’t enough to expand those mitigation efforts.

But Wood-Krueger and others say they don’t want noise proofing, just quieter skies. “We want to be out on our decks over summer,” Bob Friedman said.

Looking for answers

Friedman, addressing the committee, voiced concerns that the sharp right turn after takeoff that routes planes over the neighborhoods is linked to factors other than new control-tower directions.

“It saves fuel in most cases and in all cases it saves flight time,” said Friedman, attributing his theory to a Delta pilot he declined to identify.

After the meeting, Bill Underwood, chief pilot at Delta who sits on the committee, said lower flights over the neighborhoods after takeoff would not save fuel.

“Your fuel conservation comes from getting to altitude as quickly as possible,” he said. He said there is no Delta policy to keep planes at a lower altitude after takeoff.

Complicating the debate over airport noise is disagreement between City Council members and the Airports Commission over how to measure and mitigate it.

The airport considers average noise levels, which Quincy said “doesn’t accurately reflect what people are experiencing on the ground. … The human ear does not hear in averages.”

Pat Doyle • 612-673-4504