Second MSP Media Conference Questioned

It is a sad, sad thing if Next Gen arrivals at MSP are the biggest air quality benefit in the airport's history!  


This was SMAAC's response to the second big 'media conference' announced by the MAC for Monday (April 17).  This one is about arrival procedures.  A similar conference was held last week about "Next Gen" departures at MSP.


FAA, Delta and MAC are putting a pretty Next Gen ribbon on a package of crap  (often more emissions per flight) and hoping the package doesn't get opened (considered in environmental detail). An FAA goal for MSP has been to use Next Gen and PBN/RNAV to increase maximum hourly arrivals without delaying a departure.


Last week, FAA and Delta invited media reporters to tour the MSP Tower and a Delta jet to see how a new digital messaging capability improves communications between the Tower and a soon-to-take-off aircraft.  An MPR reporters asked me about it, since the public benefits of the change --supposedly safety and emissions -were touted. See the Post below.


A Star-Tribune story quoted a Delta Captain as saying air pollution would be “hugely reduced” because departing aircraftthe Post below. would not "linger on the tarmac." SMAAC thinks the purpose is the tiny bits of time that may be gained, not air or ground safety or pollution reduction.


The ongoing and not yet environmentally reviewed long-term operational plan is being tweaked to synch MSP runway operations at peak hours and not cause conflicts in NW flow. Converging runways were found in 2013 to be unsafe at the then-planned hourly maximum runway-use levels.


The current safe maximum is not known yet, but operations still will involve turning departures off the North parallel runway and hard, full power take-offs off the South parallel runway.  Per flight emissions are not regulated when using “Next Gen technology.”  The industry lobby not only pushed this exemption, but also added “RNAV” and other terms to the Next Gen glossary.



As an unintended result of converging runway safety-risk management, a few arrivals will possibly use less fuel by a steady low power descent from cruise altitude to the MSP runways.  This is good, but since use is increasing at peak hours at MSP, it is not a lasting reduction.

 MSP added vast amounts of air pollution concentrated near the airport in 2010-11 operations at busy hours.  These ongoing lower departures and frequent runway use (interlaced arrivals and departures) depend on more PBN/RNAV automated flights  and on Next Gen Airport deployments now scheduled to reach MSP in 2018 according to local FAA statements.

 As it turned out peak-hour operations were limited by the CRO Order, so there are more peak hours daily (for the same number of daily flights).   There is no doubt that fuel  se and air pollution is greater per flight at busy hours (i.e., over 130 ops/hour) than when alternating arrivals and departures are nneeded (fewer than about 90 ops/hour scheduled).

 Secondly, Next Gen was never conceived as a fuel use or overflight impacts gain and the airlines have lobbied diligently to exempt Next Gen-controlled flights  nd plans from environmental review. More about this is posted at other sites and hopefully some reports will include details that MAC, Delta and FAA aren't mentioning. 

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