• Changes to air traffic from OIA may increase jet noise near airport

    By: Field Sutton , James Tutten


    ORLANDO, Fla. - Long-standing procedures for minimizing jet noise over homes north of Orlando International Airport could be canceled in the next few years.

    The Federal Aviation Administration is in the middle of redesigning the airways over Central Florida and plans for improving the precision of takeoffs at Florida's busiest airport could also make them louder.

    When planes take off to the north from OIA, they lift off, head right over the Beachline and then, at many times of the day, they make a very subtle turn. 


    It's simple, but it's something people have unknowingly appreciated for years now.

    Residents living along Conway Road, north of the airport, have been the beneficiaries of an imaginary “dot” in the sky.

    "This stuff's been going on since the ‘80s, as far as what they've been doing," said resident Eric Spaulding.

    Planes take off, aim for the dot and stay a little farther away from Spaulding's house than they might otherwise be.

    The dot is over a cow pasture, a piece of land somehow untouched by Orlando development where there are fewer people to notice the roar.

    "There's times you have to stop your conversation and whatnot, and let the noise dissipate somewhat," Spaulding said.

    The FAA's new proposal looks remarkably similar to the way planes fly now, but the planes will take off using more automation.

    "Along with that, they no longer will be able to aim for the noise abatement marks,” said Judith-Ann Jarrette, an assistant director of operations with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “They're going to have to fly runway heading."

    The invisible dot will go away, and that's just the beginning.

    The question mark hanging over the FAA's plans is whether the even more drastic nighttime noise abatement measures will survive.

    "They were flying the planes out over unpopulated areas,” Jarrette said. “Well, the populations have grown up underneath that."

    People planning the airways are caught between maintaining the status quo and accommodating Central Florida's explosive growth.

    Spaulding and his neighbors are worried it'll be a compromise that helps nobody.

    "So, the residents north of the airport could get runway-heading jet traffic all night,” Spaulding said.

    The FAA was taking public comment on this issue, but that period has ended. The agency said it is going to have more refined plans sometime next year and residents may have a chance to share their concerns about the issue then. 

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