Here are answers to frequently asked questions regarding noise abatement at Tampa International Airport.
What is a Part 150 Study?
A Part 150 Study is a voluntary study that is initiated by an airport sponsor to determine ways to reduce noise over residential and other noise-sensitive areas. It also aids in the determination and planning of compatible and non-compatible land areas surrounding an airport. The purpose of the recently approved Part 150 Study is to evaluate existing conditions and recommend proposed noise abatement and land use management measures intended to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on residents and land areas surrounding the Airport.
Why are your noise abatement procedures voluntary and not mandatory like other airports?
In order for our noise abatement program to be a formal program, the Aviation Authority would have to demonstrate to the FAA that the voluntary program was not adequate to mitigate noise impacts as we grow. The FAA requires that airport analyze noise impacts and develop involuntary noise mitigation programs under the guidance of Federal Aviation Regulation Part 161. We have been diligently collecting data as part of the noise office function to be able to quantify the noise issues at TPA in the event that Part 161 becomes our only option. It should be noted that the FAA is very hesitant to approve Part 161 Studies to formalize noise abatement procedures due to capacity issues in the national aviation system, aviation industry and pilot resistance. Part 161 Studies are very controversial and sometimes are challenged in court. The Aviation Authority remains confident that we can implement the voluntary program successfully because we are vigilant. We do look at the involuntary program option when we update our Part 150 Study, however with the cooperation we receive from our Air Traffic Control Tower staff it hasn’t been warranted.
What should prospective home buyers in Hillsborough County do before purchasing property?
The Aviation Authority can help you learn about the varying flight patterns, peak travel month, and potential noise impact areas from aircraft operations. We can provide flight track information that show predominant aircraft flight patterns at TPA. We encourage home buyers to visit properties at several different times of the day and during various seasons. For additional information, call the noise office at (813) 870-7843.
When do most planes depart or arrive at TPA?
Airlines design their schedules for the convenience of their customers. The heaviest travel periods are early to mid-morning and mid-afternoon to early evening. Cargo aircraft operate late-night and early-morning flights. Aircraft can access TPA at anytime of day or night.
Why do so many planes take off and land in the same direction?
Planes must takeoff and land into the direction of the wind, therefore, the direction of arrivals and departures is determined almost exclusively by wind direction. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in charge of air traffic control at TPA.
Over what areas do planes most often fly?
Residents living within 35 miles of any major metropolitan airport can expect to see aircraft at some point during the day. Aircraft can deviate from one of the predominant flight patterns due to wind direction and/or speed, thunderstorms, instructions from air traffic control, emergency, operational constraint, and safety, etc.
What do complaints represent to the airport? To the public? If there is a significant difference, what does this mean?
- Airport management maintains a sense of the public sentiment through the administration of a program to address community noise concerns. Furthermore, airport management utilizes this point of contact for public education purposes and attempts to discern between the realities and the subjective nature of complaints. Centralized communications with the public about aircraft noise complaints also allow the opportunity to identify problem areas and, sometimes, an opportunity to correct something before it becomes a greater issue.
- The public wants to have complaints documented and sometimes seeks information. Most of all, the public seeks change in the condition as they want the noise to go away. People are concerned about aircraft noise and complain because they would like to see changes occur. At times a call may alert the Airport of an unusual noise event(s) and/or a recurring problem that can be investigated and resolved. However, a noise complaint may not bring about an individual's desired change. The noise complaint line provides individuals the ability to express their concerns about aviation noise at TPA.
- People file complaints for different reasons and have different expectations. The Aviation Authority tries to be responsive to the public and can take action when appropriate and when able to, but some callers will be frustrated when they learn that changes cannot be made. Other callers are satisfied that they have "gone on record" and have voiced their concerns.
Why doesn't TPA have a curfew or rules similar to those at other airports?
In 1990 Congress passed legislation that made it extremely difficult for airports to initiate curfews or other noise and access restrictions. This Federal legislation "grandfathered" all existing noise/access restrictions at other airports that had such restrictions. These airports already had noise restrictions that were allowed to remain in place. TPA had a voluntary Informal Runway Use Program which emphasizes preferential priority runways for turbojets and where noted, turboprop operations and pilot education.
My house is not supposed to be under the flight path, so why do I get over-flights?
TPA's informal runway use program is often used by pilots under ideal conditions. Factors such as weather, FAA ATCT instructions, operational necessity, safety, and the presence of other aircraft will often dictate a flight path that is different from the informal runway use program.
What good does it do to call in or send a noise complaint email when the noise abatement procedures are voluntary?
Pilot education is a major part of our noise abatement program and the noise complaints assist the Airport in this effort. The noise complaints are compiled and published in a quarterly newsletter that allows the Airport to see trends which assist staff in enhancing the education program.
What are the rules regarding how low an aircraft can fly over a residential area?
Aircraft altitude is established by Federal law. Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.119 which governs flight states:
- "Except when necessary for takeoff of landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitude:
- Over any congested area of a city, town or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft."
It is important to be aware of two aspects of this regulation. First, most aircraft operating in the vicinity of TPA are in the process of landing or taking off, thus this regulation does not apply. Second, helicopters are specifically exempted from this Federal regulation.
Why do I always get aircraft flying over my house during bad weather?
TPA preferred departure and arrival procedures for turbojets and turbo props are used frequently during periods of good weather. During periods of reduced visibility (rain, fog, etc) aircraft must use an Instrument Landing System (ILS). During these periods, aircraft will be vectored around the weather cells and thus, areas that are normally not impacted by aircraft over-flights, occasionally, will receive over-flights.
Why do airplanes fly out of the departure and arrival flight paths?
There are many reasons, sometimes beyond the airline's control, why a jet may fly out of the preferred voluntary flight path. These include traffic conflicts, weather, air traffic control directives, safety considerations, aircraft performance and pilot technique, etc.
It seems like the Airport has been operating on the same flow pattern for days. Is this fair?
Wind and weather dictate which runway end or flow direction (north or south) the FAA can use. If Tampa Bay is in a persistent weather pattern this may force the FAA to rely on the same runway end for a long period of time.
Who tells the pilots where and when to turn?
Pilots fly prescribed routes to and from TPA as instructed by air traffic controllers. The FAA is responsible for managing TPA’s airspace and for ensuring the safe and expeditious flow of traffic.
So what makes a jet loud?
Airplane noise is comprised of both engine noise and airframe noise. Engine noise, which is typically most pronounced during takeoff, has several contributors. The turbulent mixing of flow streams—when the hot core efflux (high-velocity exhaust) and the fan exhaust flow meet free-streaming air—produces noise from the engine’s jets. The fan within the engine makes noise that escapes from both the front and back of the engine. The fan is also responsible for the “buzz saw” noise during takeoff, created when the tips of the fan blades are traveling close to the speed of sound. Airframe noise, unlike engine noise, is most noticeable during landing. The lowering of landing gear creates turbulence that produces noise. Similarly, the interaction of flaps and slats on the wing during descent influences airstream flow and thus creates noise.
Why do some aircraft seem louder than others?
Aircraft operating at TPA have a diverse range of noise levels. These noise levels primarily depend on the type of engine used by the aircraft, the size of the aircraft and whether the aircraft is taxiing on the airfield, landing or taking off. The newest so called "full Stage 3" aircraft tend to be the quietest aircraft in the fleet. Aircraft with Stage 3 "hushkitted" engines tend to be the loudest. See (Noise Glossary for clarification on Stage 3 versus Hushkitts). Departures tend to be louder than arrivals since the pilot is forcing more power to the engine to achieve lift.
Which flight path impacts me?
Aircraft associated with TPA tend to fly within broad airspace corridors as the FAA directs aircraft to and from the airfield. If you live within one of these corridors, you will likely experience aircraft over flights, however, other land areas not under the flight tracks can be impacted. How and to what frequency any particular land area is impacted depends on, the weather, the runway end being used, the type of aircraft, aircraft engine characteristics and relative distance from the airport. The Noise Officer can assist you to better understand this relationship between where you live and aircraft over-flights.