MINNEAPOLIS STORY REMINDS THAT NEXTGEN CREATES NEW OPTIONS IN AIR TRAFFIC REDESIGN

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ARTICLE: New MSP Airport Flight Patterns Shift Noise

Skeptics seek more time to study the effect of a proposed new system at MSP airport that would concentrate takeoff corridors.

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NextGen provides dramatically more precise navigation for aircraft at higher altitudes and on approach/departure patterns close to the airports. As this Minneapolis StarTribune article explains,  neighborhoods at the margin can receive lower levels of noise, but that narrower pattern of flights translates to concentration of impact under the air traffic line selected. It must also be remembered that the current aircraft are many time more quiet than those of 10 years ago.

Good AT design should minimize the impact of noise by routing aircraft over the ground where the least residential and other human impact will be minimized. It should be noted that air traffic is three parts science and two parts art. Controllers have a heavy preference for minimizing their workload and that is a legitimate concern—ergonomics has taught that simple is good. However, their analytical techniques have been known, OCCASIONALLY, to ignore a good route over an “easier” procedure.

Community groups that chose to participate in AT proposals to redesign airspace face hurdles. The language of the business is difficult to comprehend, acronyms abound and their jargon is almost a code. There are consultants who work in this environment, but beware of those who have a long history of opposing any change to the existing pattern. The current game is not a zero sum exercise; trades must be made to get the fairest results for all. Knowledge of the geometry of airspace, alternate AT procedures and the options created by NextGen are essential to resolving conflicts.

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