Within the last month, several East Dallas neighbors have emailed us at Advocate about noise from incoming and outgoing airplanes flying over the White Rock Lake area. They are concerned the FAA has changed the flight patterns of the planes leaving Love Field, which they say has caused extra noise within the last year or so at their homes in East Dallas.

However, Mark Duebner, the director of aviation with the City of Dallas, says there has been no recent change in the flight patterns over East Dallas and he’s not sure why some East Dallas residents seem to be hearing more noise than in the past.

“That’s not to say that I’m disagreeing with the residents in the White Rock Lake area who believe it’s noisier,” he says, “but I can only provide the numbers and show them what we see as far as activity.”

For a few months earlier this year, there was an increase in the amount of airplanes flying out of the eastern runway (the Lemmon Avenue runway) when the airport was opening the new terminal, and that did impact East Dallas, he says. However, he says that shift in traffic has subsided almost back to normal, and the commercial traffic is once again going to and from both the Denton and Lemmon runways.

“The usage is kind of back — not exactly, but closer — to what it used to be,” he says.

Duebner sent two charts, which you can view here: The General Aviation Yearly Comparison (Jan 11 – Sept. 13) shows the number of flights departing and arriving from both the Lemmon and the Denton runways, and the Aircraft Activity Annual Information Line Graph, which shows activity at Love Field all the way back to the peak of air traffic at Love Field in 2000.

He also sent these pictures, which show the traffic patterns of airplanes in July 2011, July 2012 and July 2013. The green lines show airplanes that are below 3,000 feet, the yellow lines show planes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet, and the red lines show planes above 6,000 feet. The blue box outlines White Rock Lake.

Neighbors are concerned that once the Wright Amendment is lifted there will be even more traffic coming out of Love Field and going over East Dallas.

Another main concern is with a new procedure called the North Texas Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (NTX OAPM). Right now, the FAA is testing out what they call the Next Gen technology, which is designed to use satellite-based communications, rather than requiring planes to fly indirect routes over radar towers.

“Satellite navigation will let pilots know the precise locations of other airplanes around them,” the Next Gen website explains. “That allows more planes in the sky while enhancing the safety of travel. Satellite landing procedures will let pilots arrive at airports more predictably and more efficiently. And once on the ground, satellite monitoring of airplanes leads to getting you to the gate faster.”

Neighbors are curious if the testing of these optimization technologies has caused a change in flight patterns. One neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, requested a copy of the Environmental Assessment documentation. In a release, (you can view the FAA Letter here), the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration states:

“The project would involved changes in aircraft flight paths and altitudes in certain areas. However, it will not require any ground disturbance or increase the number of aircraft operations with the NTZ Metroplex airspace area.”

However, Duebner says the optimization procedure hasn’t caused any changes to the flight pattern. “I spoke with the FAA, and they said there has been no change with any procedures,” he says. “Looking at one year compared to another, they don’t appear to be any lower over Lakewood.”

Still, neighbor Mary Guenveur says there has been a noticeable change in the amount of noise caused by airplanes flying over her home in East Dallas, and she wants to know the cause. She has emailed Duebner and filed at least a couple of noise complaints via the Love Field noise complaint hotline, but she hasn’t been satisfied with the responses.

“I just want a one sentence response as to why there is more air traffic now than there was a year ago, and no one can seem to do that,” Guenveur says.

“It has changed. You cannot deny there’s an increase because too many people have noticed it. Something has changed. You cannot walk out on my front porch and be there for 30 minutes without hearing at least two very low flying airplanes back-to-back, and it is so loud.”

She has begun watching the Flight Aware tracker, which shows the flights that fly to and from Dallas Love Field, and some of the especially loud airplanes are flying as close at 2,000 feet over East Dallas, she says.

If you have noticed increased noise in air traffic at your home in the past few months or year, you can file a noise complaint form here. Also, the FAA has granted an extension to comment on the North Texas Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex Environmental Assessment. To do so, first read this document (attached: FAA letter), and then email your comments to Daisy Mather at 9-ASW-NorthTXOAPMcomment@FAA.gov before the deadline of Nov. 18.

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