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Here's Why You Should Take Noise Abatement Procedures Seriously

Boldmethod

Following noise-abatement procedures keeps people happy on the ground and results in fewer noise complaints. That's good for them, and it's even better for you. If the public doesn't see your plane or airport as a nuisance, there's not a reason to lobby against it.

So next time you're flying low or near an airport, here's how to take those on the ground into consideration...

Boldmethod

The Santa Monica Controversy

Since 1923, the Santa Monica (KSMO) Airport near Los Angeles has been one of the busiest general aviation airports in the world. Its single runway sits atop a hill in urban LA, surrounded by dense residential areas. The City of Santa Monica aggressively enforces strict noise ordinances for the airport, including:

  • Maximum Noise Level: A maximum noise level of 95.0 dBA Single Event Noise Exposure Level, measured at noise monitor sites 1,500 feet from each end of the runway, is enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are no additional noise monitoring stations along the flight pattern, which is routed entirely over residential neighborhoods.
  • Night Departure Curfew: No takeoffs or engine starts are permitted between 11 pm and 7 am Monday through Friday, or until 8 am on weekends. Exceptions are allowed for bona fide medical or public safety emergencies only.
  • Operational Limitations: Touch-and-go, stop-and-go, and low approaches are prohibited on weekends, holidays, and weekdays from one half-hour after sunset until 7 am the following day.
  • Runway Shortening: In an effort to reduce jet traffic and noise, the city shortened the Runway 3/21 from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet.

Numerous decade-long legal battles have been fought between the FAA, general aviation lobbying groups like AOPA, and the City of Santa Monica over the airport, its noise abatement procedures, and the planned closing date. As of today, an agreement has been made to close the airport in 2028. While KSMO sits in a uniquely unforgiving location, this response by the city and its residents demonstrates how important it is to follow noise abatement procedures.

Wikimedia

Use Your Chart Supplement

Some airports have noise abatement procedures published right in the chart supplement. Take Sedona, Arizona (KSEZ) for instance. It has one of the most beautiful airports in the country, surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and pine forests. Noise abatement procedures for Sedona KSEZ are as follows...

Wikimedia

Read All Runway Signage

The FAA even talks about noise abatement in Chapter 5 of the Airplane Flying Handbook:

"At airports that use noise abatement procedures, reminder signs may be installed at the taxiway hold positions for applicable runways to remind pilots to use and comply with noise abatement procedures on departure. Pilots who are not familiar with these procedures should ask the tower or air traffic facility for the recommended procedures. In any case, pilots should be considerate of the surrounding community while operating their airplane to and from such an airport. This includes operating as quietly, and safely as possible."

For example, to depart Runway 32L at Buchanan Field (KCCR), the sign near the runway instructs pilots to depart straight ahead without turns. At approximately 1.5 miles out, after reaching the railroad tracks, you can turn on-course. Of course, this isn't an FAA mandate, nor a legal procedure that you're required to follow. However, to keep the airport neighbors happy, try to be respectful and follow the airport's instructions.

ForeFlight

Airports And FBOs Have Resources Available

More often than not, airports with noise abatement procedures won't have signs or permanent noticed in your chart supplement. You'll find the most accurate and up to date instructions directly from the airport's management or a local FBO. It might be online, just like the screenshot we captured below.

When you're getting fueled for departure, take a second to chat with an FBO representative or look on the bulletin board for noise abatement procedure handouts. If every pilot takes an extra minute or two to plan their departure considering noise abatement, it can help limit the scrutiny from residents and city governments. Be a good neighbor, and think about those on the ground next time you take off.

Contra Costa County

How Noisy Is Your Airplane?

Did you know the FAA has an Advisory Circular charting the maximum noise levels for dozens of jets and piston airplanes ranging from a Boeing 777 to a Cessna 172, or even the Concorde? Check out AC36-3H to learn more about how loud your airplane is.

Tell us how noise abatement has affected you in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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