Complaints lead FAA to alter flight patterns

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 2:09am

Decisions to divert air traffic over East Nashville this summer created a lot of noise. And it didn’t just come from the planes.

In response to mass noise-related complaints from East Nashville residents, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be returning flight patterns to their previous paths, according to a Monday announcement from the Metro Nashville Airport Authority.

“We had no idea we’d get the response we did. That was totally unexpected,” said Butch Gelband, planning manager for the MNAA, on Monday. “We’re… sensitive to the community. We can’t please everybody, but we sure do the best we can.”

Returning the planes to their original, pre-East Nashville flight patterns means temporarily directing them back over downtown Nashville in a way that is slightly out of compliance with FAA regulations governing building clearance, which is why the FAA redirected traffic over East Nashville in the first place.

Gelband said the move is temporary, until another solution can be found.

“We’re going to try to find a solution that won’t affect people, if we can,” Gelband said.

Beginning July 2, air traffic over eastern and southern sections of Nashville reached a high volume when traffic on Runway 31 — the runway for the airport’s largest planes — was redirected in compliance with FAA regulations requiring aircraft to be above an object within a three-mile radius while climbing.

One week after the change, traffic over those areas increased even more when the MNAA closed a westbound runway for repairs, resulting in planes from the under-construction runway to be assigned to Runway 31.

Traffic increases from construction alone multiplied the traffic over East Nashville by five times over the volume resulting from Runway 31 changes.

Residents reported hearing 10 or more planes flying overhead on any given evening, at noise levels loud enough to stop outdoor conversations, they said.

According to MNAA, all traffic on Runway 31 has now been returned to its former flight path, due in large part to the feedback from East Nashvillians.

Gelband said MNAA and FAA are currently working to find a solution to meeting downtown building clearance requirements in a way that doesn’t “impact people the way it has,” Gelband said.

As to whether the flights over downtown pose a danger, Gelband said the flight paths of planes leaving Nashville are not out of compliance by much, and the FAA rules leave some “room for exceptions.”

“There are planes that are within that three-mile radius all around the country,” Gelband said.

The MNAA and FAA will have some time to find a solution, as Runway 31 is scheduled to close for repairs at the end of this month. Gelband said the growth of downtown Nashville — which could potentially add to the skyline’s height, if plans for buildings including the Westin and Signature Tower are completed — are among topics to be considered.

Filed under: City Business
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By: BADCOPS on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You would think that after all the gun shot noises at night in East Nashville that a couple of planes would have been welcome. I would rather they follow the FAA regulations as they should do and not be so concerned with the people complaining about a few planes.These residents have more to be concerned with than a few planes. It's also a good thing they don't live on Long Island where there is a plane taking off every 3 minutes.Maybe they should all move to the country.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Nobody wants planes flying over their house.I wonder how out of compliance they'll be when the signature tower is done?

By: songwriter on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Dear Badcops,A few planes! I clocked a plane every 4 minutes from 6AM to 7AM one morning flying low enough for me to read the expressions on the passengers faces. If you think that's OK, let them fly over your house!

By: imdyinhere on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It's all about the housing values. $400k for a Shelby Avenue Victorian vs $105k for a South Nashville ranch. Money talks.

By: u62bbs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Housing values has nothing to do with it!!! Quality of life in your own home is what the complaints are all about. I stopped going outside my home in the morning and evening because of the jet noise. Let them fly over your house at low altltude and see if you enjoy it. Imdyinhere you are not makinganyfriendshere!!!!

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

We should halt all air travel because it makes too much noise. You gotta love the "not in my backyard" mentality.

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Any guesses where Amy Griffith lives? That's the only way I can see that this story is newsworthy.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I see things like this as being very news worthy. These are the type of issue that affect every day people.

By: yank283 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It was WAY out of control...like songwriter, they were coming every 4 minutes from 7-8AM and from 5-7PM...like the article says, they were at low altitude and started their ascent right over East Nashville...it was deafening...BADCOPS, you really need to get out more, if you haven't been to the East side in a while, it's worth a visit...but we would rather you stay in Smyrna anyways...

By: yank283 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Let me interject it was 6 to 8AM...

By: Rocket99 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It's suprising how "deafening" it is in east Nash. And I can't imagine that the planes are flying low enough to "read the expressions on the passengers faces". Know people that live in the general area of the airport and they've never been able to "read the expressions on the passengers faces". Also, the nois in that area is not deafening. Can be a little louder than your average Harley on occasion.Wonder how many of the people complaining about the noise would complain to the airlines if their flight was delayed because of the air lanes being full and their flight being delayed.

By: madmonkey on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Wow, when are people going to wake up and get over their prejudices about East Nashville?! No, we don't hear gun shots at night. I've lived in East Nashville for three years, on a very cute extremely quiet street, and not once have I heard a gun shot! When looking to buy a house, we could either afford Antioch or East Nashville. Who wouldn't choose the artistic up and coming neighborhood just minutes from downtown? The issue that everyone has with the air traffic is that had we known when purchasing our house that planes would fly over every four minutes, we would have factored that into our buying decision, as I'm sure those who did buy near the airport have. As BADCOPS mentioned, if we lived on Long Island we would expect the noise but would be aware when we purchased that this was an issue! Yes, you are correct, no one wants to live directly under a flight pattern, but the situation is that this was not an issue and now it has become one. A big one. We have right to complain. You think you are the only one who deserves to live in a nice neiborhood? Why wouldn't we want to fight to make East Nashville as nice as the West??Anyone who doesn't understand this, needs to let us move the flight pattern over your house and see how you feel about it! You'll fight it too!

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

My wife runs a box fan full blast at night. I used to complain about it until the jets flew over. I always said the box fan sounded like a jet landing until I heard the real thing.

By: MsTyphani on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I am with you madmonkey! I am so sick of people referring to East North and South Nashville like its hell on earth and Im sure the majority of the ones talking all that crap about these sectors of the city have only driven through them...on the interstate!

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I had my car fixed in East Nashville once.Once.

By: MsTyphani on 12/31/69 at 6:00

My mechanic lives out East too and he's great! You should visit more often unless of course he tried to rob you or something or something i guess...

By: Elf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I like both East Nashville and Southeast where I currently live. Both have nice areas and both and their ups and downs. I hate to say it though, if you live in a large city with an international airport you've gotta expect air traffic, some days more than others. There are days when I wont' hear a single plane pass over the house and there are mornings where I hear 2 or 3 in just the time from waking up till I leave the house for work. It happens. If you choose to live in the city, be it East, West, North or South, you're gonna have to put up with air traffic. Think of it like the people who choose to live next to 440 and then complain about the noise from traffic. You make compromises to live in certain areas. And you learn to deal with it.