Progress on Airplane Noise Reduction (27 Responses)

The Wall Street Journal describes an idea coming out of our local efforts to reduce airplane noise.

National recognition for the contributions of Belmont’s Myron Kassaraba and a broad collaboration including Massport, Adriana Poole and the Boston West Fair Skies group, the 33L Municipal Working Group, local legislators and, importantly, Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

In case the Wall Street Journal article appears behind a paywall for you, here are a couple of key excerpts:

Urban airports like Boston’s Logan thought they had silenced noise issues with quieter planes. Now complaints pour in from suburbs 10 to 15 miles away because new navigation routes have created relentless noise for some homeowners.

It turns out engines aren’t the major culprit anymore. New airplanes are much quieter. It’s the “whoosh” that big airplanes make racing through the air. Computer models suggest slowing departures by 30 knots—about 35 miles an hour—would reduce noise on the ground significantly.

Your flight will last a few seconds longer, and airlines will burn a few more gallons of fuel. But “hundreds of thousands of people would get some reduction and for tens of thousands, it would go from problematic to not problematic,” says John Hansman, an aeronautics professor and director of the International Center for Air Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Everyone was looking at the wrong problem,” says Thomas Glynn, chief executive of Massport. “It’s a concentration problem. It’s a frequency problem. It’s not really a noise problem.”

Mr. Glynn says he realized how serious this problem was when Myron Kassaraba, the Belmont, Mass., representative on the Massport Community Advisory Committee, showed him a map software engineer Kent Johnson put together with flight-track data. The flights before the navigation change were spread out all over with thin green lines. The flights after were bunched in a thick red line.

“The change before and after became apparent both visually and numerically,” says Mr. Kassaraba, a financial consultant. Belmont, just over 10 miles west of Logan, had never had a noise issue. Suddenly airplane noise was distracting conversations, work and backyard relaxing.

He calls the speed modification “a step in the right direction.”

For much more background on this issue, please see this thread.

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