Federal aviation officials will begin testing out a new operating pattern at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Friday, following last month's suspension of a pattern they feared could result in a mid-air collision.
Speaking to members of a Minneapolis City Council committee on Thursday, the city official responsible for working with the airport said she'd been notified that the Federal Aviation Administration intends to begin a 60-day trial period of an alternate traffic pattern.
Loren Olson, a city government relations representative, said the plans call for increased spacing between arriving planes during peak traffic times. Arriving planes will be spaced out eight miles apart, rather than three or four, she said.
Last month, the FAA suspended arrivals on Runway 35 when planes were taking off on Runway 30L over concerns that an arriving plane could collide with a departing plane if it had to make a sudden change in its path. Runway 35 takes planes that arrive over Apple Valley, Burnsville and Bloomington, while planes that take off on 30L fly over Minneapolis and Richfield. The change has dropped the number of planes that can land at the airport each hour from 90 to between 60 to 64.
Olson did not provide other specific details about the FAA's plans, but said she expects another runway, 30R, will see increased use.
She said she's pleased federal officials seem interested in monitoring how changes in flight patterns will impact airport noise.
"We appreciate that the FAA is showing some sensitivity to the community's concerns," she said. "We've been speaking to the FAA and the (Metropolitan Airports Commission) about this and feel it is a good step."