Noise Abatement
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A Report to the Clearwater City Commission

On the Progress of the Pinellas County Noise Abatement Task Force

The St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport is currently facing several significant issues, including Noise Abatement, Runway Extension and Airport Expansion. These issues are related, but separate. Therefore, this report does not deal with Runway Extension and Airport Expansion, as they are outside the scope of the current mission of the Task Force. The intent of this report is to briefly outline the steps taken by the Task Force, the Airport (PIE) and the County to address public concerns regarding aircraft noise in neighborhoods.

The Noise Abatement Task Force was established by the Board of County Commissioners via Resolution 02-151 on August 20, 2002, and first met on 2/26/03. Its mission was to address noise concerns generated by aircraft landing and departing from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport. Additional meeting dates were 5/28/03, 8/27/03, 10/16/03, and 11/19/03. There was no meeting in December. Meetings are scheduled in 2004 on 1/28, 2/25, 3/31, 4/28, 5/26, 6/30, 7/28, 8/25, 9/2/10/27, and 12/1. All meetings are held at PIE, in Conference Room 234 at 3:00 P.M.

Neighborhood residents and Task Force members have identified their concerns regarding aircraft noise, four of which are:

1) Altitude of aircraft over neighborhoods

2) Flight path over neighborhoods

3) Noise levels over neighborhoods

4) Lack of sanctions for violating noise abatement procedures

The following breakdown briefly describes steps underway to address those four main areas of concern:

1) Altitude of aircraft over neighborhoods

Highlights of actions taken:

a. PIE has met with the Chief of Air Traffic Control and Terminal Radar Approach Control-TRACON Manager) in Tampa, and all controllers in the area, to attempt to improve Noise Abatement Procedures and to add additional aircraft to those covered by Noise Abatement Procedures. PIE reports Air Traffic Control is open to improving procedures. (Currently, aircraft under 60,000 pounds, and corporate and military aircraft, are exempt from Noise Abatement Procedures per FAA regulations). PIE is also looking at voluntary' compliance from corporate and military aircraft.

b. Military aircraft are under direct control of the FAA and Air Traffic Control, who are working with the military to mitigate noise issues. PIE has worked with the military to reduce night practices by spreading them out over multiple airports. Additionally, Blackhawk helicopters have recently' acquired specific gear that allows them to practice over water instead of over land.

c. Discussion is underway with the FAA on raising the ceiling of flights taking off and landing at PIE so that aircraft would be at a higher altitude over noise sensitive neighborhoods. Because of the high level of traffic from St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport, Tampa International Airport, MacDill Air Force Base, and other smaller airports, this complex issue requires a tremendous amount of coordination regarding altitudes.

2) Flight path over neighborhoods

Highlights of actions taken:

a. The airport is in discussion with the FAA regarding a GPS approach for Runway 17L. Currently, Noise Abatement Procedures are only applicable to flights during daylight hours and good weather. A GPS approach would allow Noise Abatement Procedures to be in effect in darkness and bad weather, which would' help keep flight traffic away from noise sensitive areas.

b. Task Force member Tim Robinson, from Pinellas Park, submitted text and charts for suggested flight paths south of the airport. PIE has taken these suggestions under consideration. This would affect arrivals from the south, and would be a charted visual (like the North Bay Visual) rather than a GPS approach.

3) Noise levels in neighborhoods

Highlights of actions taken:

a. Background: Current reporting of noise levels is in the format of a yearly weighted average (i.e. a penalty or increase of 10db is added to night noise level), which residents feel can be statistically very misleading. Residents don't see how data on yearly averages reflect what they hear on a daily basis. In response to this criticism, County Environmental Management staff were positioned at designated sites taking noise readings in neighborhoods under flight paths at times when aircraft were present, and collected real time noise levels. However, that noise monitoring was limited and temporary.

Action: The County is considering hiring a consultant to complete a more sophisticated and comprehensive noise study to determine where the noise is happening and how loud it is, and then evaluate the information. A draft outlining the scope of the noise measurement project, including a map of the proposed monitoring sites, will be presented at the January, 2004 meeting as requested by Task Force member John Padavich.

b. See 2.a above.

c. Negotiations are underway with between PIE and UPS and ATA (the only two carriers with flights still in the quiet window of l 1 PM to 6 AM) to effect schedule changes.

d. New air carrier agreements will include language that flights must operate outside the quiet window.


The airport is working with the commanders of the Army Reserve and Coast Guard to modify their procedures to reduce noise in the quiet window.

4) Lack of sanctions for carriers violating noise abatement procedures Highlights of actions taken:

a) Language is being added to carrier operating agreements so he airport will have some contractual remedy for violations.

b) The airport is distributing information to chief pilots so that they fully understand what they should be doing in regard to noise abatement.

c) The airport will let customers (the public) know which carriers are not being good corporate' neighbors (those violating Noise Abatement Procedures).

Additionally, a flight tracking web site, one of only 11 in the nation, is up and running. When it is running in "Current" mode, it is almost real time, with only a 10-minute delay. In this mode, you can choose an aircraft moving across the screen, and click on a specific aircraft to get its type of aircraft and altitude at that time. An hour later, or up to three months later, you can use Replay mode to enter the date and time to get information about a specific aircraft, including place or origination and destination. There is also a link to report problems via the web. Military missions are currently excluded from flight tracking because of security concerns, although there are discussions to include some missions if the military approves. The URL for the airport monitor website is .

PIE is looking at best practices at airports across the nation that are enforcing noise abatement procedures. An example would be Logan Airport, which also has noise monitors in neighborhoods. A report will be distributed to the Task Force at its January, 2004 meeting

In conclusion, the Task Force believes the County and the Airport are carefully: listening to the residents and members of the Task Force, and are working in good faith to find solutions to excessive aircraft se in neighborhoods. The Task Force realizes that this is a complex problem and solutions won't come overnight (example: GPS approach normally takes 18-24 months to develop;' PIE is hiring a consultant to help expedite process by 3-6 months.)

While writing this report, I contacted Task Force representatives from Safety Harbor (John Padavich), Pinellas Park (Tim Robinson) and Del Oro Groves (J. B. Johnson and Lucile'Casey). They report there has been little change in the excessive aircraft noise in their neighborhood, and feel there is much work yet to be done.' However, the prevailing opinion is that the Task Force, Airport, and County are headed in the right direction and the Task Force attitude is positive that change will come about in time.

Respectfully submitted,

Saundra Curry

City of Clearwater Representative to the Noise Abatement Task Force January 15, 2004