NWA is Messing with MAC and Minnesota

NWA CEO Richard Anderson reportedly said he wants a moratorium on implementation of the ... soundproofing program for homes that fall outside a 65-decibel noise range (emphasis added). If the quote was accurate, he dissembled and misled.

NWA slipped in an amendment to the FAA re-authorization bill that prohibits using Federal airport improvement project funds (passenger fees and appropriati ons, not airline-paid fees) for noise mitigation efforts in particular areas. Noise mitigation refers to the removal or conversion of heavily noise impacted buildings and to the SIP program to add an extra 5-db insulation to buildings only slightly less impacted. Soundproofing it isn't, and the slight differences in noise exposure on these maps are arbitrary, scientifically uncertain, and legally unreasonable . Mitigation is for excess, unabated noise.

NWA originally manipulated the noise exposure map in 1992 by over-projecting noise abatement measures to be in effect by 1996. They said there would be fewer overflights by extra-noisy NWA aircraft; there weren't. In the 1992 process, MAC also assumed less growth in passenger use (and passenger fee revenue for noise mitigation) than actually occurred as well as NWA's "scheduled retirements" of noisy aircraft. Even then, there was excessive noise requiring mitigation. It is not even clear if the 1992 map was the one intended to define the agreement with Minneapolis to assure fair mitigation of excessive noise during expansion and before overflights over heavily impacted neighborhoods were supposedly to be reduced by opening the new N-S runway. But an agreement was reached in 1995 that this area and this period would be insulated in return for Minneapolis' support for expanding MSP.

In 1996 or 97, MAC created a noise exposure map for 2001 using 1996 actual data but again NWA had manipulated the map by projecting noise abatement measures to be in effect by 2001, including fewer overflights by extra-noisy NWA aircraft and MAC again accepted NWA's "scheduled retirements" of noisy aircraft without question. These noise abatement measures that never occurred are the basis for the obviously outdated and apparently very wrong "60 to 65 DNL areas" referred to by NWA and MAC. The truth is NWA has already "delayed noise abatement" for 10 years, including many measures planned for 1993 to 2001 when the major airlines were profiting greatly from a robust economy. Why wasn't the MSP noise control plan updated for 2001 and 2004 per the FEIS approved in 1998? Why didn't MAC complete the noise exposure maps after starting the Part 150 update process in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2002? Could it be because a proper Part 150 plan would show much larger areas are exposed to excessive noise even using the accuracy-limited and easily manipulated Integrated Noise Model? Why did MAC make a ceiling fee agreement with NWA involving the reported deal on SIP budget allocations in 2000? Perhaps because NWA exercises undue political influence over MAC and can mess with its budgets and spending plans in addition to doing sweetheart leases? And why would NWA mis-characteriz e the old 1992 map as showing "homes outside a 65-decibel noise range?" Perhaps because NWA wants noise exposure &Mac246; and noise mitigation liability &Mac246; misunderstood and confused? If NWA will go this far the conference committee amendment and the misrepresentation of noise impacts to re-direct $70 million within MAC's capital improvement budget, how far have they gone to limit competition and protect their near-monopoly at MSP by messing with the $2.6 billion expansion?


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