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Met Council GHG Reduction Policy

Kudoes to the Metropolitan Council for promoting clean enegy initiatives by cities and counties and public agencies (except MAC?). 

For nine years, Met Council has not reviewed MSP plans to restore some hourly flight capacity and allow airlines to further concentrate connecting fleet operations in consecutive hours because these plans remain sequestered by MAC.

MetC hasn't accepted evidence that routing flights in MSP airspace at higher operational rates steeply increases fuel burn volume and reduces fuel efficiency. An estimated 40 percent increase in carbon particulates and GHG emissions per flight is associated with lower, slower and longer flight paths around MSP --to allow less than 10 percent more operations per hour. This is because there has been no Public Hearing on MSP Long-Term planning and capital investments and the likely environmental impacts and land use restrictions since 2010.

A slight increase in MSP use as a major hub probably would result in more carbon emissions than a total switch to wind and solar power for city requirements would save in, say, Minnetonka or Richfield.


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B-737 MAX 8 at MSP

        The public is stymied trying to get information on B-737 MAX's taking off at U.S. airports after the groundings.  Stranded B-737 MAX's began taking off at after it became clear that the technical issues and finger-pointing would not be quickly resolved. 
The original fix idea --a software update --could be installed anywhere. 
       Now, the public is, naturally, worried about an urban crash by a "grounded" aircraft. In Orlando, a "MAX-8" had to quickly turn back and make an emergency landing.The Orlando Sentinal matter-of-factly wrote that groundings applied to commercial passenger flights only. That missed the point: the public wasn't told --or warned --that not-yet-fixed Max's would be flying over populated areas. Storage space is limited around airports generally and B-737 MAXs were parked at airline expense. So the airlines began "ferrying" them to cheaper airfields where now it is expected thagt sensor, control panels, swirches or motors may be replaced or modified.
        That is the point: airport authorities do not consider overflight hazards their reponsibilty. 
        We uncovered more facts about the Orlando emergency landing:
1. Southwest had FAA (not airport authority) OK for ferrying B-737 MAXs to Victorville, CA, about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles. SW and Boeing were collecting MAXs to be fixed and re-certified. Either the fix is more complcated than a software update or the grounded aircraft were in the way of airport operations.
2. The FAA is investigating the Olando incident, but Southwest said that "engine trouble" was the cause of the emergency.
3. Five B-737 MAX aircraft were grounded at Orlando International. 
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Delayed MAC Appointments

SMAAC is very concerned that millions of dollars have been spent, and many millions more planned, for operations and facilties at MSP since the last-reviewed capital improvements program was funded. Indeed the 2011-2016 programs were soon amended implying changes to the MSP LTCP last approved in early 2011 (CIP numbers for 2011-2017).

Met Council and the airports commission acted improperly, and failed the public directly, by postponing the required TPP Public Hearing and indirectly by proceeding, perhaps illegally, with capital improvements supporting a much higher annual capacity than planned in prior LTCPs. 
The situation was not improved by delaying MAC Chair and Commissioner appointments. Commissioners with expired terms are voting on budgets and not raising the issues of updating plans or transparency.
Public health and safety is theatened by oveflights at closer than needed intervals. Safety risk management (emergencies more likely ) and MSP facilities expense, if based on a high "surge capacity" will be a disservice to the Twin Cities economically.  Surely State oversight and public discussion is needed.
MAC apparently still belives the 2014 CRO safety order will be revised, after 5 years: several amendments were proposed and rejected. Why have the MSP LTCP and the Metro TPP been postponed and public hearings delayed?  Why shouldn't the public know specifically what public costs and benefits might result from restoring a few more scheduled arrivals per hour? The MAC's forecast of annual use by flights and passengers does not require additional annual capacity and Minnesota law would require, in our opinion, an amendment and an EI, since an MSP flight capacity limit was determined in 1996 law and the 1998 FEIS/ROD. 
We think the 1998 theoretical operations per hour maximum (160 operations/hour, documented as 100 arrivals and 60 departures in NW flow) was speculative. The MAC never really figured out what to do as arriving aircraft accumulated in westerly flow. So what number of scheduled arrivals for the hub peak hourss is safe and affordable? The plan and justification should be public information.
What number is sufficient for economic growth?  The approved capapcity plan indicated a 25% increase over 1995 use, or about 120 to 125 operations at peak hours. Who pays for MSP operations and infrastructure? The public. Who suffers from more GHG emissions per flight? Everyone. Who benefits? Not much discussed
We think the Governor needs these answers and getting them should be discussed with his MAC appointees. 
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Airport Emission Studies

A study in progress near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC) found concencrated ultra-fine particulates (UFP) timed with overflights.  That is, more paticulate density (measured in a mobile sensor array) as a jetliner passed overhead. 

The data allows aviation-produced volumes to be stated as a percent of the total volume and refine exposure (dosage) to small areas for correlation with health statistics. Mobility also allows measuring under routes used in different "flow" and runway use configurations. 

The SEATAC study also expanded the USC study around LAX, with similar results.


SMAAC Note: FAA flight recordings can count flights over a small area and use height and speed data to derive the UFP density over time. If UFP emissions by density were modeled in the International Noise Model based on the above findings, there would be a high correlation with noise exposure intensity on the ground.  Since intensity (loudness) is expressed as an expotential function and density, weight and volume for particulates are linear:

1. There would be a correlation of high-DNL (or ldn) and a much higher UFP density at modeled points.

2. Per flight, UFP density at a lower DNL contour would be proportionally higher.

3. This means that UFP densities would coincide with DNL values as mapped but are more likely the cause of increased adverse health outcomes than noise intensity.



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Aviation Watch

Aviation Watch -- formerly Aviation Watch or AvWatch as a Yahoo Group is being re-organized. The blog is under construction but active at

SMAAC is temporarily hosting the blog and the e-mail version may be restored.


MSP 2019 Capital Improvements Set

For 2011 through 2017 at MSP "improvement" projects were approved and facilities built at MSP without updating the need for and purposes of many airfield and terminal facilities changes.  Clues remain that passenger arrivals per hour are anticipated for two reasons: slightly larger aircraft and more flights arriving per hour (more than FAA currently considers safe, and more than can be accepted without accumulating aircraft at MSP).

MSP officials told SMAAC that, this year, a Draft Long-Range Comprehensive Plan Update and the Capital Improvments Plan as funded for 2020 and planned for 2021-26 will be reviewed by Met Council. Perhaps some internal agreemen tresolving the Converging Runway Operations safety order --maximum operations per hour in two flows, ground traffic and aircraft accumulation resulting from consecutive high-rate-hours in the same flow --has been reached with FAA and airlines.

A furteh complication for the MSP LTCP seems to be emerging: plans are based on forecasted passenger/flight "demand." No doubt, faults in the Boeing and FAA aircraft safety cetifications for the B-737 MAX 800, 900 revealed after the two disasters are a foreboding issue in polls about air travel plans.  A new forecasting method was introduced for capacity planning in about 2012, without considering economic demand in the Metro, or the local-connecting passenger ratio, or lower public confidence in safe air travel.

So there is a lot to consider, we hope openly.  It would be better if the MAC and Met Council insisted on openly planning flights with more attention to costs and public health and safety risks.  

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Metro Airports Analysis Consortium Idea Blooms

Airport groups offered and received help through Aviation Watch for many years. "Airport Noise" in various forms and places resulted in protests, lawsuits, and occasionally changes in airport management.  Over the years, airport noise was encapsulated by US DOT and FAA laws and rules (i.e. 14 CFR Part 150 and Part 161).  Airlines successfully lobbied to stuff all protests of overflights into these grinders until protestors were exhausted and disillusioned. 

In the social media age, anyone can put out a web site named "Quiet Skies" this or that and many have.  We have a problem in that the title funnels the actions into limited practices and Rules.  Even the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus's boldest proposal 55 DNL and over mitigation under 14 CFR Part 150 would by no means result in noise or pollution reductions and mitigation can be evaded by noiser flights over more people using more overflight courses per day.

So, with help from other groups promised, we are taking two small steps toward a reduction in aviation noise and pollution per actual flight --by shortening the length and time of the average trip and reducing airport operations involved in the average trip.

Go to

1, We're oganizing a technical base for airport capacity plan protests called, for the moment, the Special Meto Airports Analysis Consortium (US) 

2. We are hosting the Aviation Watch blog.  

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MSP Long-Term Plan Remains Closeted

At the August 20, 2018 Metropolitan Airports Commission meeting, SMAAC delivered an Open Letter urging the Commission to make the purposes, costs and economic and emvironmental impacts of its 2010 to 2020 Captial Improvement Program (CIP) public, as required by Law and as related to the Met Council Transportation Policy Plan.

In particular, the long-delayed 2015 MSP LTCP Update veils the purposes and costs of capital improvements from the public, the Legislature and several State and Federal agencies.  Key planning factors remain unpublished, and many details need to be explained or revised.

The letter said "We are hopeful that the Draft LTCP Update will soon be published and that maximum hourly operations limited by the CRO and aggravated by the differences in hourly arrivals depending on “flow” will be included, and that realistic Next Gen and automated flight improvement plans and schedules are used for the CIP.

"The MSP LTCP and the Metropolitan Transportation Policy Plan (TPP) for 2010 to 2030 were approved after they were revised by the MAC to include noise and other environmental studies adjusted to the evolving new routes and ATC procedures" in the 2014 Draft MSP LTCP Update.

Is is sad that the media, the Governor and the Legislature accept the fact of $billions being spent at MSP for imporvements based on a 2014 draft that has since been hidden and apparently revised by the MAC alone. Long-term plan changes may or may not be needed for safe operations, may or may not increase noise expousre and almost certainly increase air pollution per flight.

What is the plan, and when will it become pubic?



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