June 17, 2002


TO: J Michael Brown, Chair, Regional Airport Authority

FROM: John Sistarenik, Chair, Noise Compatibility Study Group

SUBJECT: Recommended Noise Abatement Program

I’m very pleased to forward for the Board’s consideration the noise abatement program adopted by the Study Group in its meeting of June 13. This program, and a companion program of noise mitigation measures to be forwarded separately, form the core elements of the FAR Part 150 Study Update for Louisville International Airport at Standiford Field.

The Study Group is now into its fourth year of work, and has produced a robust and innovative body of mutually reinforcing measures to minimize noise exposure in the airport environs, and throughout the community. We look forward to sustaining this effort through the remaining assessment, documentation, review and approval, and implementation phases of the process.

Among the most important things this program is poised to accomplish are:

    • reduce the number of homes and residents exposed to noise above Federal standards by two-thirds or better

    • route air traffic into the least sensitive corridors in Louisville airspace, and fly them as closely and consistently as possible to minimize impact

    • deploy an implementation plan that sets out practical steps to insure that the job gets done

    • work as a community of all stakeholders involved, to produce a bold and ambitious program that puts Louisville on the cutting edge – then keep working to make sure it stays there

The last item deserves special emphasis. This recommended program represents a remarkable consensus effort of a study group incorporating all the airport’s stakeholders: air carriers, airport management, air traffic control, airport users and businesses, local governments, neighborhoods and individual citizens. The group has made an unprecedented investment in time, talent and energy to arrive at a sound, practical, results-oriented package Louisville can call its own – and continue to oversee, refine, and improve. This may be the study’s most significant achievement.

On any given day, to be sure, a given stakeholder can be dissatisfied with a given element of such a program, and even seek leverage to alter it. It is our hope that, especially through the program management measures listed below, all stakeholders will continue to cooperate to solve problems in a mutually beneficial way.

The study group’s twelve functional committees have all studied the issues, reviewed important consultant background data and analysis, and contributed key ideas to our program. Participation has broadened as new constituencies have taken an interest, and become involved through this committee structure. The measures that have percolated through this process and been vetted successfully in the study group comprise a program I’m proud to commend for the Board’s endorsement.

With the Board’s approval of this program, and subject to the results of cost/benefit assessments still being completed, we’ll proceed to collect remaining materials from various consultants and other participants, consolidate the separately approved mitigation program, and prepare the final study report for review and approval by the FAA. I look forward to that coming day, and thank you for your timely consideration of this path-breaking product.


Recommended Noise Abatement Program
cc: Study group committee chairs
General Manager
Project manager

The Study Group proposes an integrated package including some thirty measures in five major categories:

Structural Measures: organizing Louisville airspace so as to minimize noise exposure.

    • Prescribe an offset path for approach to runway 17R and departure from 35L. Path follows runway heading one statute mile from north runway end, then diverges 15 degrees west. A release point for arriving aircraft is located one statute mile further along the offset. The path crosses the eastern portion of the I-64/I-264 interchange east of the Sherman-Minton Bridge, then divides into sub-paths according to origin or destination (see flight track sketches cited below).

    • Extend and standardize approach fixes and departure turn points to provide for higher maneuvering altitudes. Base both on reaching specific locations defined by navigation aids (see below), rather than crossing radial lines or attaining certain altitudes. Set northern points largely along the river, and southern points in the vicinity of the county line.

    • Adopt optimized flight corridors following river and major highways (see sketches). Avoid unnecessary overflights of highly populated and/or elevated areas.

    • Establish navigational waypoints to route air traffic along standardized flight corridors, rather than using radar vectors for traffic control.

    • Locate navigation aids as required to define waypoints, by direct overflight or intersecting radials.

    • Publish navigational standards for individual aircraft types in the SDF fleet based on installed equipment, to establish expected fidelity to flight corridors.

    • Use planned runway extension for higher north departures on 35L; consider displacing south arrivals on 17R, but hold pending results of cost/benefit analysis.

Control Measures: establishing and implementing runway uses that minimize noise exposure above Federal standards. "Prefer", as used here, means applying current criteria for weather, runway and traffic conditions to determine runway use. In the case of the offset approach to runway 17R, local research indicates that appropriate weather minima should be no more than 1000’ ceiling, 4 miles visibility.

    • Prefer south flow, as currently, except as provided below.

    • From 0930-1230, prefer north flow, to minimize the impact of a systemic late-morning arrival bank.

    • For operations north of the airfield, prefer runway 17R with offset for arrivals, and 35L with offset for departures. This measure reverses the currently applied runway preference to take advantage of the noise-compatible area under the offset corridor described above. This is the element most directly responsible for the dramatic reduction in noise exposure above Federal standards this program achieves.

    • Retain current prescribed operations south of the airfield (no runway preference; diverge 15 degrees on departure from 17R according to traffic & destination). Several variations were examined, but none produced substantial reductions in noise exposure beyond those achieved by other measures.

    • Retain, and where possible enhance, the contraflow program. Nighttime operations concentrate traffic south of the airport, with an arrival bank (roughly 10 PM – 2 AM) followed by a departure bank (roughly 3 – 7 AM). This control measure, coupled with ongoing mitigation programs, has literally defined the landscape around the airport, and is critical to sustaining its role as a major cargo hub.

    • Minimize exceptions to contraflow. Operations north of the airport during contraflow periods are among the most disruptive, and make a disproportionate contribution to local noise exposure. Tower and management efforts must be combined to reduce these operations to the essential minimum.

Procedural Measures: setting uniform practices governing aircraft operating procedures.

    • Publish standardized arrival and departure procedures integrating the structural measures listed above and the procedural measures below. These procedures, published as instrument approach ‘plates’, standard terminal arrivals (STARs), and standard instrument departures (SIDs), are the core instructions available to pilots using the airport.

    • Provide for uniform descent from at least 5000’ above field level at safe (3 – 3.5º) slope; discontinue current exceptions providing for routine early descent to 2500’ above sea level.

    • Grant visual approach clearance only after aircraft overfly final approach fixes.

    • Include preferred noise abatement procedures in approach and departure plates, based on best practices for local noise-sensitive areas.

    • Continue current run-up restrictions that prescribe location and hours, except as cleared by airport management.

Management Measures: establishing local capabilities and organization to oversee noise compatibility program and related activities.

    • Establish an airport noise office. Already acted upon, as the first measure implemented under the updated program.

    • Community noise forum to succeed the Study Group, using the same inclusive construct joining all stakeholders in dialogue. Provided for in the Study Group charter; demonstrates local commitment to strong implementation.

    • Maintain Web site and information centers. The study has collected a wealth of operational data and other information of continuing use to inform the public and provide resources to guide future updates.

    • Reinforce communications and liaison links with staff, carriers, controllers, government agencies, media, and public.

    • Equip the noise office with essential hardware and software for effective monitoring and evaluation.

    • Develop real-time runway use decision aids, with common access for management, ATC, carriers, and community. Data fusion not only improves local information, but provides model FAA could adopt to enhance traffic control throughout the system.

Evaluative Measures: providing effective means to monitor implementation of the program.

    • Establish flight track monitoring system. Basic elements already on hand on trial basis. Software to process and interpret data under discussion. Budgeted.

    • Provide for sample noise monitoring. Establish limited capability for periodic validation of calculated noise exposure, and measurement of ambient noise levels from all sources, airport and other.

    • Maintain fleet lists to evaluate operational data collected above for

      • exceptions to noise abatement program (i.e. light aircraft)
      • navigational performance capability

    • Develop and tabulate data sets for various metrics. Continue studying local results and professional literature to seek best means to address noise concerns and operational issues.

    • Conduct in-house noise modeling. Produce periodic updates to noise exposure contours to assess effectiveness of noise compatibility program.

    • Document and evaluate emerging technologies and measures for potential application in future program updates.

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