Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Planes over East Nashville

Friends in the flight pattern:

The following is information from communications between Councilmans Mike Jamison (6th District), Eric Cole (7th District) and the Airport Authority.

Further, if you would like to voice your own concerns over this issue, you can contact NMAA Planning Coordinator, Lee Cothern, at 275-1446.

The Airport Authority has said that the dramatic increase in plane activity over us in East Nashville is, at least partially, temporary.

In addition to the FAA-mandated heading change that we all knew about, it turns out that, on July 9th, an additional runway at BNA was closed for repairs. Thus, we're getting a much larger number of planes than normal. Look for the current level to continue until September. Then, the runway that is currently seeing all the traffic will close for repairs and we'll see (and hear) very little traffic at all until January!

In Jan. '08, the runways will all be open again and we will still see SOME planes due to the new flight pattern (see the graphic attached), but they assure us that the traffic will be much lighter than now.

See Mr. Gelband's note to Councilman, Eric Cole, below and thanks to all of you who have raised concerns and called the Airport Authority. Your voices have NOT gone unheard.

Councilman Cole,

The FAA has forwarded your e-mail regarding departure procedural changes on Runway 31 at Nashville International Airport to me; thank you for your inquiry. I am sorry to hear that some of your constituents have been disturbed by these changes.

The following paragraphs offer an explanation as to the reasons for altering the Runway 31 departure procedures; however, the biggest reason your constituents have noticed an increase in aircraft departures over their homes is due to the temporary closure of Runway 2L. This Runway, which normally accommodates westbound departures, closed for improvements July 9, shortly after the Runway 31 departure procedures went into effect on July 2. This has necessitated that aircraft that would normally use Runway 2L depart from Runway 31. Runway 2L will be closed until early in the first quarter of 2008, after which there will be a significant decrease in aircraft departing from Runway 31. In the interim, Runway 13-31 itself will be closed for improvements from September through November of this year; during this time period East Nashville residents can also expect a decrease in aircraft activity.

At 11,200 feet, Runway 13-31 is the longest runway at Nashville International Airport (BNA) and is used by heavier aircraft that require the additional runway length to safely become airborne. Due to its orientation, it also functions as the Airport's crosswind runway; hence, it is also used when wind direction renders the three parallel runways less desirable for use by some or all aircraft operating at the Airport. Prior to the operational change, aircraft departing to the northwest on Runway 31 were turned to either the northeast (50 degrees) or to the west (280 degrees) approximately 2,000 feet from the end of the runway. As the attached graphic indicates, those aircraft turning to the west flew south of your district. As the practice of turning aircraft to the northeast has not changed, these aircraft continue to fly just east of your district.

FAA regulations require that aircraft be higher than any object or structure within a three mile radius while climbing. Recently, during an FAA review of the Airport's airspace, it was discovered that aircraft being turned to the west following departure from Runway 31 were within three miles of existing downtown buildings prior to being at an altitude higher than these structures. In order to comply with FAA regulations, this departure track was split into two separate tracks in order to remain outside the three mile radius. One of these tracks turns planes to the northwest (330 degrees), while the other turns them to the southwest (240 degrees); The aircraft overflying your district are those turning northwest after departing Runway 31.

The relationship between the FAA and the Airport is a partnership. Ultimately, as the FAA is responsible for safely separating aircraft from structures, objects, and other aircraft in some very congested airspace, these changes were made to comply with FAA safety guidelines.

I hope this addresses your questions as to why procedural changes were necessary and also provides you with assurance that the amount of air traffic currently overflying your district is only temporary.