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FAA a no-show at city hearing on jet noise in the southern part of Boston

Flavio Leo of Massport discusses jet noise

Massport's Flavio Leo discusses runways and planes.

A City Council hearing today on resident complaints about low-flying jets from Roxbury to Hyde Park and Milton was sort of moot, because the Massport officials who did attend stressed they have nothing to do with deciding which planes fly where or how.

At-large City Councilor Steve Murphy, who lives on Fairmount Hill in Hyde Park had a simple answer: "From this point forward think of us as plaintiffs," he told the Massport officials.

Murphy and fellow Hyde Park resident and district City Councilor Tim McCarthy joined with officials from Milton in decrying what they said was a sudden influx of what appeared to be especially low flying jets over the past few years - but especially the past few months - over the city's southern tier and also the South End.

"I feel like people (on the planes) are waving to me on my back deck," McCarthy said, adding he has had to pause conversations with his wife when they're there because of the noise. He said he has gotten e-mail from constituents whose babies were awakened by the first planes shortly after 5 a.m.

Murphy added, "I've lived in the Fairmount Hill section of Hyde Park for 51 years, I'm 57, and up until about 3 years ago where we really didn't have this type of an issue."

"This system is unbearable and it is unsustainable," state Rep. Walter Timilty of Milton said.

Residents agreed.

Glen Berkowitz of the South End said he's tired of "having the living shit kicked out of us every 75 seconds or so."

Athena Yerganian, who has lived on Bellevue Hill in West Roxbury all her life, said she noticed the especially loud planes starting at 5:30 a.m. one day in the last week of last October.

Although he said the decision on how to route planes is up to the FAA, Flavio Leo, Massport's deputy director of aviation planning and strategy, denied that planes are flying any lower than usual. And he said that, in total, over the years jet noise has gone down dramatically because there are far fewer planes taking off and landing at Logan - as airlines learned to pack ever more people on the planes - and modern planes make less noise.

Leo added that the routes for planes taking off and landing largely depends on the direction of winds at the time.

But Milton Selectman Denis Keohane said part of the problem may be that those planes are flying in much more narrowly defined corridors, so when the planes do fly over somebody's house, it's not just one but plane after plane after plane for several hours at a time.

McCarthy and Berkowitz raised the issue of "environmental justice," asking why more planes weren't routed over richer, western suburbs, rather than taking a left turn that brings them down across Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Hyde Park and Milton.

Local officials and residents said they're not looking for a complete absence of jets, just more equity. As Alan Wright of Roslindale, a member of the Logan Airport Citizens Advisory Committee, said, "it's a zero sum game," because fewer planes over his neighborhood means more over somebody else's.

"It really sounds like the poorer neighborhoods are getting the bad end of the stick, as usual," McCarthy said.

In addition to McCarthy and Murphy, city councilors Josh Zakim (Fenway, Beacon HIll, Back Bay, Mission Hill) and Michelle Wu (at large; lives in the South End) attended.

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Comments

massport let me know during one of my 6 am phone calls that they had received 12,000 complaints for 2014.

everyone should weigh in on this, but the flights before 7am are outside the limits set on construction or noise beyond 70 db. The flights are 74 db in a certain Roxbury driveway.

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Measure the noise. Ask others to measure the noise (is there an app for this?). Perhaps someone with better web skills than I can get a map going with date/time measurements. Note the violations with a different color of marker?

We get the "under the clouds" traffic when there is a low ceiling, and that can be quite loud. I know we got 85dB once in my Medford back yard (my sound engineer neighbor set that up). It will rattle the windows and stop conversations. It is a more reasonable 55-60dB when they fly higher on non-cloudy days on that track.

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Milton is a poor neighborhood?

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But I think he was referring to places such as Roxbury, Mattapan and Hyde Park.

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Were they obligated to come??

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And, apparently, unlike local college presidents or police commissioners, the city council's subpoena power is useless against federal officials - Murphy said he hoped Capuano and Lynch - whom he noted vote on the FAA budget - could do something.

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The original poster forgot to ask the second (important) part of the question:

Was Massport obligated to come?

(Hint: the answer lends credence to the principle of subsidiarity in government)

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For sure, but tinnitus aside, it's got nothing on what the airport does to the air and water.

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from the southwest based on my anecdotal observations as a butt in one of those seats. I've flown weekly for almost 15 years for work. Up until recent years, the predominant landing patterns were from the south (over pleasure bay and Southie off to the left), from the ocean (often over flying the airport and then doing a 180 to land and occasionally from the north, coming in over revere beach. Only recently have I noticed landings from the southwest. I was curious as to why that is and I don't know the impetus behind this, but these people are not imagining things.

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The direction a plane lands depends on the wind. They like to land with their nose facing as close to directly into the wind as possible.

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Did they not used to, primarily, fly out over the harbor while gaining altitude such that when they turn back over land they are much higher in altitude [thus less noticable]?

They have added many new airlines to Logan, runways, and terminal space over the past couple decades, plus you now have many more frequent shuttle flights out of the airport. So I doubt the claim that there are less planes coming in and out of Logan.

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Flights in 2000: 490,000.
Flights in 2014: 360,000.

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If I have quickly gotten used to the noise in the last year or if the traffic patterns have changed.....but i"m much more concerned about the spent jet fuel raining down over the area than the noise! Not good for anywhere :(

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Spent jet fuel is water. H2O. Nothing more.

Dust is more harmful.

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Only once you've invented the hydrogen cell jet engine, and zero-pollution electricity.

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Sometimes they change the flight patterns of planes, if they have intelligence that indicates the planes might be facing some sort of threat from a particular area. For example, if they have intelligence that someone might shoot projectiles at a plane, they might have planes take off at a steeper angle, or divert the flight around a zone that might provide cover to someone looking to perpetrate such a threat.

It would also provide a great explanation as to why the FAA is staying mum on the issue- they're never going to admit to the public when something's amiss.

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from Logan Airport. Apart from changes in weather or wind direction, one of the common reasons for suddenly changing flight paths is because of some joker on the ground who decides to aim a laser pointer into the air.

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So if I shine a laser pointer at the planes startling me awake at 1:30am and 4:30am, I might actually be able to get some sleep? Good to know!

They are such complete shameless liars at the complaint line, I can't deal with them anymore. "It's the wind," they say, when I can check wind conditions all by my little self and find NO correlation. If they just told the truth people could deal with an occasional sleepless night, but when it goes on for months and they lie and say "it's your imagination, it's always been this way" I just want to punch their smarmy lying faces until I'm exhausted.

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I've heard a lot more of them over Medford and Somerville in the past couple of years. I'm not sure if they are coming off a new runway or if the way the runways are used has changed. There seems to be more going over places that rarely used to hear them. Almost like we all get some air noise fun now instead of just Eastie and surrounding areas.

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Trust me, not complaining (long time resident) but no town can match our noise levels. I here every single plane; when it takes off and lands even if they're not on my path. Even a buddy of mines from revere told me that its very loud in Eastie.

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When you are in the airport, the noise is not that bad. But if you are in Eastie, Winthrop, or, say, Castle Island, that noise is impossible to miss.

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There are enough buildings and structures along the ground in the terminal areas to put obstacles between the traveling noise and the observer. Also, most planes "plug in" at the gates, and they don't need much engine power to make their way to the runway - meaning, not much noise.

Once the planes are out in the wide open runway space, when they really wind up those engines for takeoff and climb, that sound is not only much more intense than it is at the terminals, it moves more easily where there are no barriers (no buildings on the runways, open water) before it hits buildings. It also moves from air to ground once the planes take off.

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Chelsea is loud also!

But for some real fun.. go to Constitution Beach in Eastie or Wood Island Station. When planes are taking off from runway 33L, you can't even hear yourself think!

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It's also gotten waaaay worse over the past year/year and a half. The noise was always there, but it seemed like a) a lot more landings, and b) never in a one to two hour stretch of low take-offs every 45 seconds or so.

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I'm a chelsea resident so I hear it too. Seems like they are just flying lower these days..

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I can think of one. 14/32. I believe it is still the only designated uni-directional runway in the U.S. (i.e., all takeoffs are to the southeast over the harbor and all the approaches come from the southeast over the harbor).

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The direction that most planes take off and ascend in depends on the wind, and the direction of their destination. If the wind is coming from the west, and the flight is headed to a destination west of Boston (read: most of the continental US) then the planes take off toward, and ascend toward the west.

This has always been the case. A slight shift in the flight pattern a few years ago is what all of these people are complaining about, because it's slightly closer to their homes.

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if they didn't run the first planes of the day over these neighborhoods.

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It amazes me that these community activists can turn a subjest such as flight patterns into a racial issue. Do they really think people are sitting around in a planning room at the FAA plotting a way to screw the minority and poor people of the city. Give me a break. When will the race card finally get worn out?

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Few if any people believe the FAA is acting explicitly to the detriment of poorer communities.

It seems entirely plausible, though, that they might choose (or be forced to choose) a path of "least objection" by avoiding more affluent and enfranchised neighborhoods. Those people are more likely to have their complaints heard. Over time, such a pattern can be institutionalized.

The only way to keep the deck from getting stacked is to give a voice to everyone affected, and let plans be made as even handedly as possible.

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This is something I don't understand from Adam's description of the discussion above.

The people who think they should "spread the pain" among other "more affluent" communities too...

Do you think that within 10 miles of an airport the plane has much choice about where it flies if it wants to land safely?? This isn't Flight Control where you can just spiral planes in from wherever right before landing to avoid each other, etc.

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Maybe when white trolls stop reinventing and playing it?

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McCarthy and Berkowitz raised the issue of "environmental justice," asking why more planes weren't routed over richer, western suburbs, rather than taking a left turn that brings them down across Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Hyde Park and Milton.

I don't see anyone saying anything about race. A little trigger happy yourself there.

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Shout out to South End resident Glen Berkowitz for giving no f-s about using unsavory language and calling it like it is.

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I get that the planes need to fly SOMEWHERE, the early flights in repetition that are the worst. My kids get woken up at 5:30 by planes even with the windows closed as they come one after another every two minutes. It only gets worse as it gets warmer and windows stay open overnight.

Maybe we all need to go mow the lawn of the relevant FAA official at 5:30am to get the point across...

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Full disclosure: I live in JP. I have live in JP for going on 6 years now. These same planes fly directly over my house every day. I literally don't even notice the planes. Why? Because I live in a city, and it's loud. That's how it goes.

So now, these folks, who have chosen to live in a city, are going to go and complain about the noise in a city that is caused by planes taking off. Planes that are literally thousands of feet above your head by the time the get to Milton or Roslindale.

And what is the end game here? Best case scenario, what? You route planes to fly elsewhere? So someone else gets to listen to the noise? Which I suppose is fine, as long as it's not inconveniencing you personally, right?

Or is the FAA to just not allow flights out of Logan Airport when the wind is coming at a certain direct? Does every plane fly out over the ocean until such time that they're higher than 10,000 feet, THEN they can come back?

The whole situation wreaks of people that have too much time on their hands to complain about trivial crap, without the slightest thought to what, if anything, can or will be done about it.

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How does it work?

So now, these folks, who have chosen to live in a city, are going to go and complain about the noise in a city that is caused by planes taking off.

Did you miss the multiple comments about how the noise has gotten noticeably worse in the last several months?

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So what? They route the planes over someone else's house so they can deal with the noise? Because they complain less?

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Because I live in a city, and it's loud. That's how it goes.

This line of thinking is used far too often on UHub by some people poo-pooing legitimate complaints by city residents. If anyone knows what it's like to put up with nuisances, it's city residents. Most of us take the bad with the good because the good far outweighs the bad in living here. But that also doesn't mean we should be subjected to unnecessary noise pollution or other nuisances simply because "it's a city and it's loud."

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I'm not sure it's quite the same thing. I'm also in JP, and I definitely notice a change in air traffic lately (mostly because I have a toddler who is fascinated by airplanes, who stops to stare at the sky every time she hears one, which is now once every 60 seconds on weekend mornings), but I'm sort of in the same camp as CaptObvious: in the hierarchy of "annoying noises that you hear daily in the city," airplane noise doesn't crack my top ten. I notice it when I'm outside, sure, but it's no louder than the FedEx truck chugging by. You can't hear it indoors where I am. If I had a choice between getting rid of air traffic over my house, or of, say, summarily executing everyone who rides a moped past my house at 8000 RPM (or the people setting off fireworks at 1AM on a weeknight), I'd probably go for the latter option. I completely believe folks in Eastie who are affected by the noise, but I'm having a hard time figuring out why Roslindale/Hyde Park/JP residents are so up in arms about this.

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I think it really depends where you are. I don't really hear them either but I know people who do where they are. I just get annoyed at the general attitude I responded to.

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The toddler pointing to the sky and saying "airplane" is pretty awesome.

I'm just trying to teach junior that helicopters are different, and that traffic has stayed constant, and louder.

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The toddler pointing to the sky and saying "airplane" is pretty awesome.

of course now all I see is the guy from Fantasy Island going

"da plane da plane..."

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When you say it's "unnecessary noise pollution" what do you mean? Do you mean that the planes should just shouldn't fly? Should they fly over the ocean to 10,000 feet then turn around?

Again, big on sentiment against the "unnecessary noise pollution" but not big on actual, realistic solutions...as chronic complainers tend to be.

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Grounding all domestic and international air travel might be a bit much.

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Do you think that'd be a problem? I dunno. Seems legit to me. (sarcasm)

So again, I ask, what is a realistic solution to this problem that doesn't involve you point the planes over someone else's house?

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As others have mentioned and has been done before, spreading the flights out over more area to lessen the impact on any one neighborhood/town would be one way. I'm not a pilot nor aviation expert so I leave it to them but if people don't ask, then answers will not come. I'm not a chronic complainer by any means. Carry on.

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...never ceases to amaze me.

But in this case, my amazement is topped by the number of councilors who just decide not to go to work on that day. Or at least the main work of the body.

Just four councilors out of 13 attended?

<<<

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It might be a blessing. Consider Murphy's comment: "From this point forward think of us as plaintiffs".

Yep, go ahead. Sue Massport (I presume this is what he was suggesting, as he appears to have been addressing Mr. Leo of Massport) and waste tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars on a suit from which Massport will be dismissed as a defendant (because, for the umpteenth time, Massport does not control flight patterns).

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Here's the key point:

"those planes are flying in much more narrowly defined corridors, so when the planes do fly over somebody's house, it's not just one but plane after plane after plane for several hours at a time."

The FAA changed departure procedures in June 2013. Planes used to be able to take any route within a certain area, which distributed the noise. But now they use a system called RNAV, which means they all follow the same exact track.

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Here is a link to a petition from 2013 attempting to block proposals to change flight paths.

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https://www.change.org/p/terry-english-faa-gov-stop-logan-runway-33l-fly...

This is a link to a petition from 2013 looking to block this very issue.

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How do u think people in Revere,East Boston,South Boston.I do know that friends in Southie got money from mass port for all new sound protection windows ,people that live down street from castle Island,you should see the planes there,when coming in they are most certainly low,I was running that way and could see people in windows,I felt like I could reach up and touch the plane,also we can just sit in the living room and see the path the same path all the planes coming in are taking and it is usually at night from 7 p till after 11 p. But since they have sound proof windows it's great u can't hear them.Tey and make someone pay for sound proof windows,they did it in Southie were needed,sounds like it could work for you guys too.

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