Starting on January 16, most communities will experience a reduction in plane traffic late at night. This is the result of the reinstatement of a noise abatement procedure that had been suspended since June. Many of us were unaware of the suspension of the procedure, so the good news is unanticipated.
Basically, late at night, weather permitting, the airport tries do all of its landings and departures over the water. That means planes are flying in opposite directions onto adjacent runways. The traffic has to be timed to separate them adequately and maintain safety. This is feasible only late at night when traffic is low.
The FAA has been concerned about safety in “opposite direction operations” since at least January 2013, when it issued a policy statement requiring the development of new procedures. Last August, as a result of a near miss at Reagan International on July 31, the FAA decided to suspend opposite direction operations nation wide.
The following statement that went to the Citizens Advisory Committee last August was something that many of us did not become aware of:
. . . [O]ne noise abatement procedure in place at Boston Logan is aircraft departing R15R and landing R33L during the late night period- same runway with opposite direction operation. This procedure requires extensive FAA Air Traffic coordination and aircraft separation to maintain levels of safety. It is for this reason that this noise abatement procedure is limited to when aircraft demand is at its lightest (typically midnight to 5AM) and when weather conditions are appropriate.
In June, the FAA suspended these types of operations at various facilities across the country so that a review of existing procedures could be evaluated. Initially, we were not sure whether this was just a short-term operational decision or more of a longer term change. Recently we were notified by the FAA that this suspension will probably continue through October and maybe beyond. As a result, Massport’s Noise Abatement Office has been coordinating with the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower (similar to the coordination that occurred during the closure of R33L Safety Area Project) and seek to continue to use, during the late night period, either the R33L-end for arrivals or the R15R-end for departures when possible while alternating the use of the second runway end to avoid overflying the same communities.
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Bottom line: On January 16, Logan will resume opposite direction operations, weather permitting. ODO is not always possible, so we will still hear planes at night from time to time, but we should hear less than we have over the past 6 months..
Thank you to Myron Kassaraba for passing this information on.