MAC to vote on new flight plan

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2012 - 9:37 PM

Noise Oversight Committee approved routing system devised by FAA; it concentrates flights over parts of Edina and Minneapolis.

An airport noise advisory group signed off Wednesday on a plan to concentrate the routes for aircraft takeoffs, despite a parade of protests from Minneapolis and Edina residents who will have more planes roaring over their homes.

The Noise Oversight Committee concluded that the Federal Aviation Administration had met its noise criteria set for the new system for routing airport traffic. The group, primarily representing cities bordering the airport, voted 10-1 to approve the plan, with only Minneapolis Council Member John Quincy voting no.

The action clears the way for the Metropolitan Airports Commission to vote Monday on implementing the technology. Greg Foster, a Minneapolis appointee to the commission, said he expects it will not be deterred by local concerns, given the body's statewide membership.

The FAA hopes to begin next spring to use the technology, which guides aircraft more precisely, saves gas and is regarded as safer. But if the commission balks, that would delay the system by another 16 months, according to the FAA.

Residents who showed up at the meeting Wednesday argued that evaluation of the impact will require more time and information.

"You want to put everything over a four-block area where I live," said John Whiting, a resident of the far southwestern corner of Minneapolis. "I moved there because it was quiet in 1989."

"We're sitting out here -- we're clueless," said Jim Grotz of Edina, who noted that his city has no representation on the committee.

Edina City Manager Scott Neal asked in vain for a delay so the city could be briefed. He described the takeoff proposal as imposing "a greater impact on a smaller number of people."

Others are happier with the proposal. More flights would follow less populated places, including the Minnesota River valley, Cedar Avenue south of the river and industrial areas of Eagan.

Quincy suggested that the new system be implemented solely south of the river for now, but that proposal didn't fly.

The commission advertised two open houses on the proposal earlier this month, but people repeatedly said they didn't learn of the impact on them until reading about it in the Nov. 4 Star Tribune.

Still others, like Kenny neighborhood leader Bryan Simmons, said the commission should have employed social media like his neighborhood group does.

Some found the commission's explanation of the new routing system too technical and its maps of flight routes confusing. "It was like looking at a plate of spaghetti," said Michelle Mougin, a 30-year Fulton neighborhood resident.

Quincy said the commission will hear on Monday about Minneapolis' view that the FAA and commission didn't inform the public adequately, that the proposal increases flights over residential areas of Minneapolis and other concerns.

That meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Room 3048A of the Lindbergh Terminal. Those who want to attend need to obtain a pass from the information desk on the terminal's tram level to get through security.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438 Twitter: @brandtstrib

  • WHAT'S NEXT

    • The Metropolitan Airports Commission plans to vote Monday on implementing the new plane-routing technology. The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Room 3048A of the Lindbergh Terminal. Those wanting to attend must obtain a pass from the information desk on the terminal's tram level to get through security.

    • The FAA hopes to begin using the technology next spring.

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