Although PBN/RNAV routes might someday help to keep flights separated, the noise increases are unacceptable, and unrealistically exempt from environmental review. However, the MAC-- through the Met Council and the Legislature --can, and should, review the costs and risks versus the benefits of increased flight capacity. Delaying the MSP long-term comprehensive plan hearing is very bad public policy.
Forum on MSP Air Traffic June 16th Announced
US Rep. Rick Nolen, MN-8, a Member of the House Transportation Committee and Aviation Subcommittee, will address National Airspace System and Next Gen (Air Traffic Control) plans and progress as they affect MSP.
Since 2011, FAA at MSP several times changed ATC procedures to manage aircraft in flight more safely. The changes caused more health-risk and environmental harm per flight, resulting in hundreds of complaints and a flurry of protests at MAC meetings.
In July last year. an FAA Converging Runway Operations Order was issued suspending arrivals on R35 during busy hours. Since then, MSP has been working around the suspensions. Modest plans to restore some R35 arrivals at peak hours were rejected as increasing safety risks. In fact, MSP was directed to re-consider runway use and how operations were synchronized.
SMAAC told the Metopolitan Airports Commission: Unless peak-hour schedules are reduced, peak-hour operations over 140 ops/hour would be dicey, even if NextGen and PBN/NAV routes were deployed. Apparently we were correct. Also, evolving safety, noise, and pollution standards --and the cost of complying systems and facilities improvements --made the gain from re-routing after the the 2010 near-miss unaffordable in the long-run. The postponed Met Council public hearing on MSP long-term needs and plans should not be delayed further; instead, a plan to limit operations per hour --at least until more is known about technology deployment -- ought the be the plan.
More arrivals/hour requires more ATC systems and expensive avionic upgrades for operational safety. MSP added noisy and polluting routes with several refinements during 2011-2015, trading off large noise and emissions increases for a small gain in peak-hour capacity. PBN/RNAV routes were defined and MAC (somewhat prematurely) mapped out the (future) routes. The routes were severely objected to by impacted citizens and elected officials. [In 2013, the MAC asked FAA to consider PBN departures off R12R and R17 only. FAA refused this complication and the stated FAA plan for MSP remains PBN/RNAV, now doubtfully projected for 2018.]
Additionally, national goals to reduce carbon and greenhouse gases emissions from commercial aviation necessarily will involve route and schedule changes at 50 to 70 US airports, including MSP. So far, the Metropolitan Airports Commission has accepted more noise and pollution from fewer flights (compared to 2005) as the cost of doing business as a major hub.
SMAAC says that a confluence of safety, noise, pollution, costs and schedule issues surround MSP long-term plans and neither the public, the Legislature nor the Met Council should allow airport managers and airline to expand facilties and systems at MSP without open oversight and legal consideration
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