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Author Topic: January 7th SMAAC Forum Report  (Read 2183 times)
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« on: December 29, 2013, 03:56:09 PM »
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MSP Safe Capacity & Overflight Noise

As a part of the above key topic blog, SMAAC held a public meeting in Minneapolis January 7, 2014.  In spite of the frigid weather, over 80 people attended. In fact, Dr. Barbara Lichman, the keynote speaker was unable to fly in, and her presentation was presented as a video. 

Dr. Lichman, an attorney, explained the Federal process for reconciling airport operations with economic needs for air service (capacity) and an airport's site (size and location).  The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) allows flight restrictions for noise abatement. An airport’s safe capacity and use is established generally as a public utility and access, or scheduled and emergency use of the runways, is allowed by Federal rules.  Restricting access or limiting routes for noise abatement or development of adjacent land is by an application (CFR 14, Part 161) that implements ANCA.

A Part 161 change at MSP, Dr. Lichman said, addresses "a very real and qualifying problem: MSP's location in an urban setting."  But, the application has to be supported by the airport proprietor and elected officials. Dr. Lichman noted that approval of Part 161restrictions is rare and difficult, but possible.

Answering a question from the audience, SMAAC President Jim Spensley remarked that the rules consider that changes to prior agreements about noise or airport capacity or both in combination are a basis for restrictions. 
"Errors or misunderstandings about use or capacity and noise impacts argue strongly for changes." Spensley said, "And the FAA is responsible for safety restrictions and has changed flight paths for the health and well-being of citizens." 

On July 1, 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board warned the FAA that operations similar to MSP operations, using three runways in westerly flow, are unsafe. On July 12, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the authority to “prescribe air traffic regulations …(to) protect individuals and property on the ground.” by lowering aircraft noise..

FAA could, and should, direct flights to reduce noise exposure, in spite of frequent contrary comments by the Metropolitan Airports Commission. FAA adopted rules, 40 CFR 1502.14(a), making the cost of mitigation the deciding factor if operations would be as safe or safer practicing noise abatement (such as selected routes, aircraft types, or flight procedures).

The noise problems at MSP are related to the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s redefinition of “capacity” and its plans to enlarge the connecting hub as a percent of all operations. The MAC could ask the FAA to reduce operations per hour at MSP and use noise-abating departure profiles for all departures.  Such a request is, in SMAAC's judgment, consistent with a prior agreement.  The agreement is documented in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Records of Decision (FEIS/ROD), for MSP Expansion approved in 1998, the Part 151 Noise Compatibility Plans for MSP, and various other records.

The MSP capacity needed for economic growth through 2020 was established as no more that 620,000 annual operations. Technology changes and other factors are now thought to allow more frequent use of MSP runways than was anticipated. An extension of the present peak-hour use computes to an annual capacity over 1 million operations (assuming FEIS/ROD runway hours per day).

Operations are now based on a hybrid peak-hour capacity that exceeds authorized capacity, increases costs, reduces safety margins, and generates more noise exposure. While the MAC and FAA hope that PBN/RNAV routes (automated flights) will safely allow up to 160 MSP operations per hour, this technology is only being developed and tested.  FAA admits the PBN/RNAV routes will be noisier per flight, but under PL112-95 Section 213, PBN/RNAV flights are categorically exempt from noise review.

So, let’s talk about the costs and benefits of this and how MSP should be used. Citizens can push back to prevent harmful overflights


« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 10:43:16 PM by Forum Manager » Logged
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