Proposed changes in the way jets are directed in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport would shift the overhead noise residents hear in parts of Hennepin County and northern Dakota County.
In Richfield, the system would send more departures over Crosstown Hwy. 62 and an area where homes have been sound-proofed. It was the city's choice because it diverted planes that sometimes fly over more exposed homes, said Tom Fitzhenry, a Richfield City Council member who also serves on a metrowide noise oversight panel advising the airports commission.
"We are kind of picking an area where it's going to be noisy," he acknowledged. "There's always the battle of who gets the noise."
Over the southern suburbs, departures to the southwest that now loosely follow the Minnesota River Valley would be directed more narrowly down the center of the valley -- a change that could reduce noise above homes along the valley in Bloomington and Burnsville, said Chad Leqve, manager of noise, environment and planning for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
Departure routes over Eagan also would be adjusted. The biggest change would be the elimination of the bothersome southbound departures that turn sharply east across the middle of the city.
"There will be many people in Eagan who will be very pleased if that flight track goes away," said assistant administrator Dianne Miller. By far, most of the noise complaint calls that come to the city are about that route, she said.
Other routes going south and east over Eagan have been redesigned to keep planes over the Minnesota River Valley while they climb so they turn over the community at higher altitudes and presumably are harder to hear on the ground, Leqve said. One of these routes would follow Cedar Avenue. Another would go over Lebanon Hills Regional Park.
The downside: Residents who live under the more concentrated flight paths are likely to see and hear more planes.
Anyone who would like to look more closely at the proposed new routes and how they might affect their own home is welcome at two informational open houses: one from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Crosstown Covenant Church, 5540 30th Av. S. in Minneapolis, and a second one from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Eagan Community Center.
The city of Eagan is not taking a position on the proposal and is encouraging people to attend the open house if they want more specific information, Miller said.
Based on the information presented, Burnsville would expect the change to lessen noise somewhat in the city's northeast neighborhoods, said City Manager Craig Ebeling.
These and other changes to flight patterns are part of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposal to narrow flight paths to six routes for arriving aircraft and 13 routes for departing aircraft using "performance based navigation" that allows pilots to use instrument controls to follow prescribed takeoff and landing routes rather than receive directions from an aircraft controller.
Reducing pilot-controller communication, considered a weakness in the system, would be expected to make airport operations safer, Leqve said.
If endorsed by the Metropolitan Airports Commission Nov. 19, the FAA would plan to adopt the new flight patterns at MSP next year.
Staff writer Pat Doyle contributed to this report. Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287