Interim Report on MSP Plans for 2015-2021

SMAAC presented its position: operational changes that increase noise and pollution must be reviewed and alternatives evaluated that provide sufficient safe capacity and reduce noise and pollution.  The presentation reiterated SMAAC's comments on the NTSB warnings about safety and the World Health Organization warnings about the inadequacy of modeling projected operations as a predictor of future health and environmental impacts.

The draft AOEE is absent any reference to operational alternatives, legal capacity, or planned deployment dates for Next Gen and PBN/RNAV.   The presentation and all comments received in writing, the Chair said,  ".. will be reviewed by staff and the staff recommendations considered for adopting the 2014 Assessment of Environmental Impacts at the December Commission meeting."

The Commission (or staff) have kept municipal comments on budgets and long-term plans separated from noise and pollution review.  And it appears that SMAAC and other comments on the purposes of capital projects will not even be accepted for staff review or presented to the Commission.  SMAAC was newly advised this year that ONLY municipalities need be invited to comment on the capital budget projects proposed for 2015 to 2021. 

At the November 3rd Hearing, the Chair limited the hearing to topics in the already-drafted AOEE report. To counter this, SMAAC distributed a written presentation including the inter-relationships of noise and pollution, safety and capacity.  I spoke briefly about this and invited the Commissioners to ask questions on the record -- or off-line in the next few days.  If this happens, SMAAC will submit send supplementary testimony in question-answer form. 

From an environmental review standpoint, operational alternatives with potentially far fewer environmental impacts are being excluded from review.  The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Metropolitan Council, and and the Minnesota Department of Public Health should be aware of this, and intervene.  

Key technical points:

  • Noise exposure and air pollution are concentrated and more harmful at peak hours or high runway use rates.  The extensive departure procedure changes in 2011 and 2012 significantly increased ground noise exposure and pollutants per cubic foot per flight compared to the same operations in 2009. 
  • The production of noise and air pollutants is a function of the proximity and duration of operating large jet engines, defining the 'dose'  per person per event-hour. The 2011-12 procedure changes increased both proximity and duration -- many more flights departing MSP turn quickly, exposing new neighborhoods and persons to higher doses per flight.  The turns reduce the climb rate (increase proximity by being lower) and reduce acceleration (increase duration).   
  •  PBN departures would maintain climb rates and progress along planned routes by constant power adjustments.  The burn rate (increased power) would more than offset maintaining acceleration. 


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  • @smaacmn tweeted this page. 2014-11-07 19:21:11 -0600
  • South Metro Airport Action Council - SMAAC posted about Interim Report on MSP Plans for 2015-2021 on South Metro Airport Action Council - SMAAC's Facebook page 2014-11-07 19:21:11 -0600
    Interim Report on MSP Plans for 2015-2021
  • Forum Manager
    commented 2014-11-05 10:16:50 -0600
    After the Hearing was closed, MAC staff (Mr. Leqve and Director Hamiel) spoke off the record.

    Mr. Leqve spoke about getting the FAA to preferentially use easterly flow, mentioning the Noise Oversight Committee’s requests that the “runway-use system” (assumed in the 1998 FEIS) be attempted by FAA. He also mentioned that reaching that goal was not likely, but an effort to increase deparutes to the East along less populated areas was probable.

    Note: The long-term trend has been more flights at peak hours, but recent changes in airlines and airline schedules allowed slightly more off-peak use in 2013-14 compared to 2011-12, seredipitously adding easterly departures. NOC’s requests were honored by FAA without causing delays for the Sky Team hub flights, but not really changing FAA preferences.

    NOTE: The hub uses westerly flow because three arrival runways are needed to prevent delays and because of prevailing winds. As long as most flights are scheduled for a few peak hours, easterly departure must be less than 30% of all departures. In my opinion, this was taking credit for a “good try” and seeming to be concerned about noise and pollution actively.

    The comments will not mollify neighborhood objections to continuing increased noise exposure by overflights of new neighborhoods and also by increasing noise intensity on a per-flight basis everywhere. They do serve to separate hub needs and plans from formal envionmental review. The Commission can then approve expanded hub operations first, and accept inadequate environmental and pubkic health protection because operational alternatives are foreclosed.

    Director Hamiel said that MSP management worried that PBN routes would increase noise along the several routes and reduce noise in other neighborhoods. Director Hamiel serves on an FAA Next Gen Advisory panel and hopes to negotiate an agreement for modified procedures at MSP that “allow more-dispersed westerly departures using Next Gen to :spread the noise impacts around more fairly.”

    Note: I understand the “waypoint in the sky” idea, but like the FAA Next Gen engineers Directo Hamiel paraphrased, I see that it complicates real-time safe separations of more flights per hour at airports as well as complicating safe spacing along routes entering en route airspace.

    Note: This is transparently supporting present, unnecessarily high and suspected unsafe peak-hour use by envisoning a future high-tech system that allows unnecessarily high peak-hour use.

    Analogy: Falsely assuming we are cutting the same-size pie, cutting larger slices for some neighborhoods and smaller slices for other neighborhoods would be unfair. The falsity is that the noise pie is now quite a bit larger and the smallest pieces will have as much “noise sugar” as the even slices being handed out now, and the larger slices more “noise sugar.” Everybody would get the same or a larger dose.