Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: A technical correction on airplane noise story

Just a technical correction to, and a comment on, your article on airplane noise.  Airplanes do indeed take off and land into the wind.

Therefore, when the wind is blowing from the north an aircraft arriving from the north flies “downwind” over Vashon-Maury, turns “base leg” through or just south of Commencement Bay for a landing to the north (into the wind).  Conversely, with a wind blowing from the south an aircraft arriving from the south flies downwind over Vashon-Maury, turns base leg through or just north of Elliott Bay for a landing to the south.  With a north wind, aircraft arriving from the south do not transit Vashon-Maury island and vice versa (nor do aircraft arriving from the east). 

One other point:  the FAA designs the arrivals and departures into SeaTac, not the Port. 

These procedures are designed with input from the Port, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, Air Traffic Control, environmental groups and local citizens.  The criteria for developing the procedures are: safety, equipment/crew capabilities, efficiency (fuel burn and ease of handling by ATC),  and environmental factors (which would include noise).  New procedures are currently being developed with the first three criteria foremost in the plan; however, all airlines do not have the required equipment and/or crew training necessary to fly these new procedures. It will take some time and money for these to be put in place.

And last, as was pointed out in the Community Council meeting, the number of operations at SeaTac are down by approximately 28,000 takeoff and landings from 2008 to 2009 and the altitudes and procedures flown have not changed for nearly 20 years.

— Truman O’Brien

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