It's a sound as ubiquitous in areas near the airport as snow drifts are in January—the rattle of dishes in the cupboard as a roaring, whining passenger jet takes off or comes into land at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
However, relief could be in store for residents underneath the airport's flight paths, as the FAA rolls out a new air traffic management system called NextGen between now and 2025.
Budget pain kept loud planes in place
“For 40 years there’s been an organization rallying MSP concerned about noise in the neighborhood. The way the airport is used impacts noise exposure,” said Jim Spensley, President of the South Metro Airport Action Council. “The busier the airport is—flights per hour or minutes between flights — the lower the average flight. ”
In a presentation given on September 17 at the Bloomington Knights of Columbus Hall, Spensley revealed that post-9/11 financial restraints have kept the airport and the FAA from giving residents a respite from the noise.
“In particular, as the airplanes use the runways more often, operations have to be changed in order to avoid collisions," he said. "Unfortunately there’s a trade off between noise exposure and safety.”
In order to prevent collisions between multiple aircraft that are taking off and landing, several flight patterns must be utilized, Spensley explained, many of which are only about 2,000 feet above homes in Richfield, Bloomington and Southwest Minneapolis.
New airplanes mean quieter flights
Despite the FAA having to keep safety procedures above noise mitigation, Bob Friskney, director at SMAAC, says there are positive results to be heard in the near future.
“By the end of the year Delta Airlines will retire the DC9-50 series fleet which should have a very noticeable decrease in noise,” he said. “Over the next couple of years you’ll see some MD-90s and 737 aircraft come in. Southwest residents will immediately notice the difference when the DC9-50s go. The MD-90s happen to be Delta’s quietest aircraft right now. They’re buying them to be used all over the world.”