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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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2018 Forum Report

The Online Forum has been modified.

SMAAC' s Survey and Candidate Answers drew attention to ongoing MSP plan-implementations and Federal actions.

The SMAAC Board and the Forum volunteers appreciate attention the DFL Nominee and practically the Representative-Elect, Ilhan Omar, gave to the Forum.  She seems to share our goal for MSP flight operations capacity: safe, sufficient, affordable and environmentally sound.  [The Republican Nominee was asked to participate but did not.]

At this time, and perhaps longer depending on US House elections go in other states, actions in pursuit of this goal in Washington will be helped or hindered by the terms of and appropriations for FAA in the Re-authorization bill, if passed.  It seems likely that less--than-clear aviation policy will prevail in the Re-authorization or a continuing resolution. 


SMAAC hopes that MSP and National Airspace System planning positions are debated in Statewide campaigns. We may extend the 2018 Forum and will publish on-line news about that! 

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2018 SMAAC Forum News

After a longer than expected design and survey phase, we were ready August 3rd for the 4 participating Candidates to post their "Opening Statements" and open the Forum to the public.  The Forum "went live" on Sunday. We issued a Public Announcement to 50 media outlets (TV, Radio, Newspapers and on-line publishers) and notified over 700 members and followers by email.

Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, Frank Drake, Ilhan Omar, and Patricia Torres-Ray submitted statements by email, and we asked for confirmation that the sender was delegated by the candidate.  The  Forum Website is

After considering the candidates' statements and the public reactions for a week, a panel will rate the candidates as having GOOD, ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE intentions to support efforts to modify the National Airspace System plans and policies as proposed by SMAAC and other citizens' groups and local government units.  

Simply stated the solution is to directly or indirectly realign routes and hubs to shorten city-hub-city trips and reduce congestion at major hubs.  Flight capacity was re-arranged following airline mergers in 2008 to 2012 and consolidation of connecting hubs.

The Federal Government has invested billions of dollars in Next Gen and related technologies, but the en route implementation creating more routes also created congestion and additional systems at many airports.  In Metoplexes and major hub cities, Next Gen is not likely to add hourly safe capacity --closer sep--arations, shorter intevals and affordable airport facilities and services --as was planned for economic growth prijections. The national airspace system is now in a completely different situation economically, environmentally and ecconomically.  This needs to be recognized.

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