Changing MSP Operations

Too many people seem to think the Federal Aviation Admistration (FAA) and the airlines are in charge of MSP, but they still complain about oveflight noise to the Meropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) or the Noise Oversight Committee (NOC). Complaining about noise is OK, but a small step that so far has never reduced neighborhood noise a decibel.  Is the noise hotline also the air pollution hot line? Is it the place where printers or sound studios or electonic manufacturers complain about low flights (vibrations) spoiling a document, a recording or a batch of tiny microchips?

Has the City of Minneapolis complained at NOC about overflights interfering with the City's Wide-Area Wi-Fi system? Have viewers or advertisers called the hotline about flights 'pixilating' broadcast digital TV?  Just asking.

Why isn't there an overflight hot line?  There is a security hot line and an emergency hotline.  And a number to call if you are treated poorly by a MAC employee (well, maybe not that).


The recent Star-Tribune story about noise complaints increasing was welcome, and it increased awareness by elected officials like Council Members Quincy and Johnson that they are elected and MAC Commissioners aren't.

But here is a hard truth: aviation is a large green house gases (GHG) emitter.  Jets at low altitudes are also serious land polluters, dropping dangerous submicron particulates and speading fuel and sometimes glycols downwind for miles.  The Federal Inter-Agency Committee on Aviation Noise (FICAN) finally noted the World Health Organization warning  that people living within 10 miles of a busy airport have mucher higher health risks and costs. FICAN studied the relationship of noise-induced stress and sleep disturbance, and recommended to the President and the FAA that health-risk and noise exposure studies should be continued near airports.

The FAA is now doing surveys around a few airports, asking people if their sleep is disturbed regularly, and other questions about noise-induced sress and cardio-vascular diseases.  Not asking if citizens are worried about inhaling as many particulates as a coal-miner. Not asking if citizens are worried about living in areas that would be a cleared safety zone at any new airport.  

As SMAAC has said: Does it really matter whether noise or air pollution from oveflights is causing greater health risks?  

Here are three burdens I do not think we need to share:

1] The safety risks in operating MSP at minimum separations as often as possible, especially since as often as now is dependent on systems and situational awareness while development and deployment for less safety risk  is not scheduled to be completed for years. Very costly new and safer systems  is ongoing as very needed -- or else the Congress is being seriously duped into $trillion of NextGen appropriations. 

2] the health risks of in-cabin and in-cockpit polluted air. [I just slipped that in, but in the 3 years hundreds of flights were forced to land because of mists, smoke or fumes, some with seriously impaired pilots or very sick passengers.]

3] the industry and MAC tap-dance over the facts about and the harm from overflights.  [It is painful to hear otherwise intelligent people saying DNLand decibel ae equivalent or that more low-altitude manuevers due to closely-spaced operations on 3 runways is safe even if the NTSB says it isn't.  Or that not reviewing air pollution or other required issues in environmental assessments is OK because noise isn't forecast to exceed 65 or 60 DNL.  Or that plans for less-impactful routes are less likely now than two years ago, but still talked about as realistic.

Meanwhile, away from MSP, Delta, and MAC, we, SMAAC and other citizens' groups are discussing air pollution, wasteful spending, more assured safety, and economics with FAA, EPA, and the NTSB (and the White House indirectly).  Our pitch: there are too few hub airports and the National Airspace System is either broken or will be broke (out of money) without a change.  It would be nice if the MAC at least acknowledged that taxpayers are unnecessarily paying a lot for Federal services at MSP and local travelers are paying high fares unfairly as Delta recoups all its MSP costs (gate leases, landing fess, etc.) plus profit unfirly from O&D passengers.


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