Why airplanes need to change routes

In the brouhaha over an increase — and, presumably, corresponding decrease for some people — in aircraft noise with revised flight patterns at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, there hasn’t been much coverage of the context for the changes.

It’s called NextGen and the FAA has been working toward for years as it tries to get away from a fairly antiquated system of airplane navigation in the era of GPS.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work.

  • jon

    Not able to watch the video right now, However:

    I’ve heard about this system before, and frankly it terrifies me that planes are switching towards more reliance on GPS… Given the ease of jamming a GPS signal, and the subsequent ease of sending a fake GPS signal, these systems are going to have to be fairly robust far more then our current consumer and likely military grade GPS (recall that Iran downed a US drone supposedly through jamming and spoofing the GPS)

    I think it all underscores the importance of well trained pilots who can tell when something has gone wrong and correct manually.

  • Tyler

    Good thing the Airport has paid so much money to soundproof people’s houses, and now we change flight patterns…

  • David Brauer

    If the computer system is so whiz-bang, surely they can figure out an efficient way not to send 72 planes a day over a narrow band of homes. Some corridorization? Fine. But let’s make it the equivalent of Park/Portland, not 35W. It’s simply not fair to those on the ground (most of whom will receive nothing in compensation for living under a brand-new air-highway).

  • Chris N.

    The problem is that they’re balancing a number of different kinds of “efficient.” You’re talking about efficiently spreading out noise pollution to reduce the burden on any one house. That’s a noble goal, but what about fuel efficiency, or time efficiency? If it costs more to spread out the routes, then we’re all going to have to pay more to fly out of here. Or it may end up being not cost effective for airlines to fly out of MSP, and they could leave, which is a big problem. I’m sure there are other issues at play, here, as well.

    As far as noise pollution goes, I’m really hoping we can engineer our way out of that one. I know there’s research being done on quieter engines. My understanding is that quiet and efficient go hand-in-hand, so it shouldn’t be hard to convince airlines to go for quieter engines if they’re available. Aero engineers feel free to step in and disabuse me of this notion if wrong.

  • CaliGuy

    It’s interesting to note that the residents raising the most noise on this are in Edina and S. Mpls. However, not a peep from the folks in Mendota Heights, W. St. Paul, and S. St. Paul who are going to be equally subjected to noise.

  • Bob Collins

    Lost in a lot of this is the Delta decision to keep flying those putrid old NWA DC-9s. The very best step toward noise mitigation is to get rid of those things.

    CaliGuy, I’m not sure how much of an increase there’ll be for the Eastbound takeoffs. Prevailing wind is northwest Inver Grove Heights gets most of that now.

    There’s an old joke somewhere — and I heard it again last week and wish I could remember where I heard it — about sending the noise back where it belongs — over poor people’s neighborhoods.

    It would have been an interesting exercise to have moved the airport down to Vermilion as MAC almost did some time ago, and see how much development was allowed to take place under the subsequent flight paths.

  • http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDkQqQIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052970203406404578072960852 David Campbell

    “The last of its 19 DC-9s, which came from Northwest, clock in at more than 34 years old, and are expected to be put out to pasture in the next year or two.”

    (Source of quote linked to my name below)

    19 planes accross the whole Delta system doesn’t seem like that many. But yes, it will be nice when those are not flying over the home my parents live in (and I grew up in) anymore.

  • Tim

    So now it looks like the south suburbs will still be impacted by the new system when it starts, while Minneapolis, Richfield, and Edina get a pass.

    As an Eagan resident, I find this very troubling. I don’t live under the new corridors — I have planes flying over me all the time, but they are usually landing on the westernmost runway — but it bothers me that the system was apparently too horrible to implement in some communities, but just fine for others.