RNAV will not create a new route over Longfellow. However, some areas east of us will be directly under the planned flight paths.
The hotly-contested Area Navigation plan (RNAV), which is scheduled to be approved by the Metropolitan Airport Commission on November 19th, will be on display for a final community open house tonight in Eagan. Since parts of Longfellow currently experience some airplane noise, we wanted to know if the RNAV flight paths would affect our neighborhood. According to the map above, departures using the RNAV system will not fly over Longfellow. In fact, Longfellow may see a decrease in the amount of overhead traffic as indicated by the map below. The colored areas represent current flight density, which cover the Longfellow area. The black paths indicate the RNAV flight navigation, which sends airplane traffic to our neighbors to the west.
This map shows the current path of airplanes from the MSP airport as indicated by the colored segments, with red representing the highest density of plane traffic. The black lines show the new RNAV tracks. As you can see, in most cases the RNAV tracks follow current heavy traffic flows.
Pilots of RNAV equipped planes would not be allowed to deviate from the RNAV tracks, according to Dana Nelson, noise and operations analysis coordinator at the Metropolitan Airports Commission. She notes that 97% of airplanes have the RNAV technology. Planes that do not have the technology include propeller and turbo prop planes as well as old DC-9 planes. These could still be seen over Longfellow.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states that RNAV reduces the miles traveled, saving fuel. It also decreases air-to-ground communication and streamlines traffic flows, creating safer flights. Marion Blakey, former FAA administrator, stated in a 2007 report, “It [RNAV] flat out saves fuel. It relieves congestion, alleviates choke points, and reduces delay. It increases efficiency by providing smoother traffic flow. It’s clear that performance-based navigation is good for the environment.”
A Highway in the Sky
Minneapolis City Council members Sandy Colvin Roy has been outspoken against the new navigation paths, calling it a “highway in the sky.” Her primary concern is for homes under the planned RNAV flight path. According to the Noise Oversight Committee, the homes might not see an increase in decibels, but they would see an increase in plane traffic.
Colvin Roy is also concerned that future expansion plans for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport would compound the issue, dramatically increasing the number of flights that neighbors currently experience. Nelson confirmed this, stating that if the planned expansion occurs, homeowners under the flight path would experience a greater frequency of flights overhead.
To Learn More
If you are interested in learning more, the MSP Noise Oversight Committee is holding an open house tonight from 5:30-8:30 at Eagan Community Center, 1501 Central Parkway, Eagan, MN 55121. The MSP Noise Oversight Commission has posted more in-depth information as well as comprehensive maps. For more background, the Star Tribune has published a comprehensive article. If you are interested in taking action on the proposed RNAV system, Councilperson Sandy Colvin Roy has requested you call your legislator.