Politics & Government

FAA dispersing Charlotte Douglas departures to scatter jet noise

Here are flight paths at Charlotte Douglas before the FAA began dispersing planes in an effort to spread noise among more people. Most of the departures followed the dark blue band.
Here are flight paths at Charlotte Douglas before the FAA began dispersing planes in an effort to spread noise among more people. Most of the departures followed the dark blue band. Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration is nearing completion of a plan to disperse noise caused by departing jet airliners from Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The FAA’s new satellite-based navigation system allows for jets to stay closer together, on narrow “rails,” as the FAA calls them. But those paths focused noise on just a few homes.

The city of Charlotte asked the FAA to send the departures on different paths after takeoff. That means more people will be exposed to noise, but fewer people are impacted by it repeatedly.

“The city asked us to spread it out,” said Dennis Roberts, a regional administrator with the FAA.

All of the changes are part of the FAA’s Metroplex plan, which is trying to make the airspace over the nation’s busiest airports less congested. Charlotte Douglas is the nation’s fifth busiest airport based on takeoffs and landings.

The Metroplex plan will keep arriving planes at higher altitudes longer. The old system brought planes to Charlotte Douglas on a ladder approach, in that they would descend and then fly at a certain altitude before descending again.

The FAA said having planes glide into the airport is more efficient and quieter.

While arrivals cause some noise, the biggest source of complaints are takeoffs, when jets are near full power.

The first phase of mitigating takeoff noise started in October 2015. Among the areas impacted were departures to the south for flights heading west.

The older, more narrow flight path sent flight directly south before turning west, almost directly over the Yorkshire neighborhood off of South Tryon Street. Under the new plan, many flights will make their turn to the west sooner, around the time the planes cross Interstate 485.

The changes sent more flights over Chapel Cove and the Sanctuary. Residents there have complained to the FAA.

At the end of May, the FAA made additional changes to departures for planes taking off to the south that were flying to the northeast. The old departure “rail” sent planes flying directly over the Park Crossing neighborhood off Park Road. With the new plan, some planes will turn to the east much sooner, spreading noise over neighborhoods in SouthPark.

Later this summer, the FAA will make additional changes for planes taking off to the south and flying south.

For planes taking off to the north, the FAA made similar changes, dispersing flights over a larger area.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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