Addressing aircraft noise should be priority - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Addressing aircraft noise should be priority

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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2009 2:30 pm | Updated: 3:03 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Our View: There really isn't a place in the East Valley where residents can expect complete silence in the skies overhead. We have the blessing, and perhaps the curse, of hosting a number of airports of various sizes to meet public demands for economic prosperity and convenience.

There really isn't a place in the East Valley where residents can expect complete silence in the skies overhead. We have the blessing, and perhaps the curse, of hosting a number of airports of various sizes to meet public demands for economic prosperity and convenience.

That is especially true for the eastern third of Mesa, an area that's a focal point for approaches to three of the East Valley's busiest operations - Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and Falcon Field. Anyone who studies the right maps should quickly recognize that aircraft in takeoff and landing modes are going to be a basic part of the area's lifestyle.

Still, Mesa officials are taking the right tack in asking if east Mesa residents are being subjected to an unfair or unnecessary burden from aircraft noise. A number of people say disruptive noise has climbed in recent years, coinciding with changes to flight patterns related to Sky Harbor and the Valley in general.

As Tribune writer Andre Bowser reported Wednesday, neither city nor federal aviation officials gave much thought to that possibility until recently because east Mesa was considered too far away from Sky Harbor.

Of course, the first step is for Mesa, Phoenix and the Federal Aviation Administration to identify which airplanes are creating the disruptions, and which airports are they most often coming from or toward. This is critical because, despite ongoing advances in engine technology, many people have the false perception that the biggest planes are always the loudest. In fact, the latest commercial passenger jet can be quieter than older and much smaller cargo planes.

Once officials properly document the sources of disruptive noise, then the community can discuss ways to mitigate it and the trade-offs involved with different alternatives.

No one is going to clear the skies over east Mesa of all aircraft, but there might be options to balance air safety and productivity with the ability of residents on the ground to get a reasonable amount of sleep at night.

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