Late night noise reduction programs take effect at SeaTac airport
The Port of Seattle has secured a revised Runway Use Agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and began implementation of a new Late Night Noise Limitation Program for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Both are outcomes of collaboration within the Sea-Tac Airport Stakeholder Advisory Round Table (StART), an advisory round table focused on identifying practical solutions to reducing aircraft noise in neighboring communities.
The objective of the revised Runway Use Agreement, which went into effect on September 4, is to minimize use of the Third Runway (the western-most runway, 16R/34L) during the late-night hours of midnight to 5 a.m. This is intended to lessen aircraft noise in the communities adjacent to the Third Runway and under its flight path.
The Late Night Noise Limitation Program is a new, voluntary Port of Seattle initiative designed to reduce late night aircraft noise at Sea-Tac Airport by encouraging airlines to fly during less noise sensitive hours or to transition to quieter aircraft. The program focuses on the same late-night hours of midnight to 5 a.m. The program was developed to increase air carrier awareness of the impact of aircraft noise on local communities.
“These recommendations came about because of the commitment of individuals who spent many long hours working with the Port, FAA, air carriers, and local community leaders. We appreciate the collaborative dialogue and are eager to continue pursuing these shared strategies to lessen the aircraft impacts on surrounding communities,” said Lance Lyttle, Aviation Managing Director.
The Late Night Noise Limitation Program captures noise levels for any take-offs and landings between midnight and 5 a.m. using four close-in airport noise monitors. The program was developed to increase airline awareness of aircraft noise in local communities. Monitoring began on July 1 and the Port will report out any exceedances of noise thresholds to the public and air carriers on a quarterly basis beginning in October. Additionally, a penalty score will be assigned to the airline as part of the Port’s Fly Quiet Program if an operation exceeds an established noise threshold.
Making noise commenting easier
The Port also recently launched the Aircraft Noise Comment app to provide a one-stop option for airport neighbors to register noise concerns, offer comments, and ask for more information on topics such as sound insulation. You can download the app straight from the Port’s website. After using the app the first time, user information is saved and does not need to be re-entered. In addition, the date and time will be automatically updated with each use.
StART Initiative updates
The Port of Seattle Commission has been more proactive than at any point in the organization’s history in efforts to help the local airport communities, including the work of StART which began in February of 2018. StART, in addition to the implementation of the revised Runway Use Plan and the Late Night Noise Limitation Program, is working on a number of potential efforts to reduce aviation-related noise and will continue to explore additional opportunities identified by StART’s membership including:
- Glide Slope Analysis – The Port has agreed to the raising of Runway 34R’s glideslope from 2.75 degrees to either 3.0 or 3.1 degrees which could reduce aircraft approach noise for communities south of Sea-Tac Airport. The project is enabled by the Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) near-term projects and requires FAA approval.
- Airfield Noise Assessment – This effort will investigate and determine sources of airfield noise, including the use of reverse thrust by aircraft, and potential ways to minimize their impact. The Port just hired a noise consultant to conduct the assessment, with work expected to begin this fall.
- Noise Abatement Departure Profiles – This effort will analyze a steeper aircraft departure procedure and the potential benefits to residents under the flight-paths. The Port has hired a noise consultant to conduct the analysis. The analysis is expected to take a couple of months and when complete – will include proposed next steps.
- StART is also working to develop and implement a shared federal advocacy agenda to better engage the FAA and Members of Congress in our shared goals around reducing aviation-related noise in local communities
Expanding current Port programs
The Port is committed to building programs that benefit our closest neighbors through matching grants, economic development and job creation, workforce development, environmental practices, and safety, including:
- The South King County Fund will make investments of up to $10 million over the next five years in programs that may include addressing airport noise and other projects that support increased environmental health and sustainability.
- Airport Community Ecology Fund (ACE) – supports environmental projects and programs in the cities of SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines with more than $240,000 in grants since 2017.
- Economic Development Partnership Program – funds local initiatives across King County with more than $1.8 million in awards since 2016.
- Spotlight – reserves advertising locations at Sea-Tac Airport for promoting local cities and King County destinations.
- Airport Career Awareness Events – offer a series of career-oriented educational experiences for local high school students.