Aviation Noise Psychology: How Repetitive Routes May ‘drive you crazy’

KPHX.20150829.. noise meter held by C.McGlade

The article research included purchasing a sound-meter. Many aviation noise activists are investing in this type of equipment, so they do not have to rely on noise measurements commonly manipulated by FAA and FAA’s ‘industry partners’.

Here is an article worth reading: ‘Why the Phoenix Sky Harbor flight-path noise may drive you crazy’, by Caitlin McGlade, published in August 2015. A PDF copy of the article is provided in this Post, with highlights (and one footnote) added by aiREFORM.

The article covers much of the impacts on specific neighborhoods, but the most interesting part of the article is how well the writer reviews the psychological impact of aviation noise. See especially the sections from page 2 through page 6 of the PDF copy: ‘The Unpredictable’, and ‘The Low-Frequency Rumble’.

The article also refers to a 214-page study of noise impacts by the KPHX RNAV routes, done by Landrum & Brown in early 2015, and paid for by the City of Phoenix (view a PDF copy here).

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

The footnoted point cannot be over-emphasized: FAA and the industry are flat-out lying when they sell NextGen as an improvement in U.S. commercial aviation safety and a way to reduce airline emissions. They are using these as selling points, but the REAL OBJECTIVE of NextGen routes is to discard decades-old noise abatement routes, so as to help the airlines grow larger profits. Here is a closer look, debunking these two selling points:

  1. On the safety point, U.S. commercial passenger aviation is very safe, with a proven record showing the vast majority of fatal accidents are caused by fatigue, inattention and poor decisions (by both pilots and controllers, who commonly are quite bored and lulled into complacency, then easily distracted, even by personal electronic devices). FAA has presented no evidence substantiating the claim that the new routes being implemented under NextGen actually ‘improve safety’, because there is no such evidence. Their claim is simply an empty selling point.
  2. On the emissions point, think of it this way: under the ‘NextGen’ banner, ATC is issuing turns lower and closer to airports. This reduces total fuel consumption for each flight by a small fraction of a single percent (but, cumulatively, it adds up to millions saved by airlines in fuel costs and pilot-time costs). By comparison, major airlines lock passengers into traveling 10%, 20%, even more than 30% actual flight distances to get from point A to point B via major airline hubs. For example, suppose you are flying from Portland, OR to Burlington, VT (and this is just one example; the concept applies to hundreds of U.S. city-pairs). You could theoretically fly three ways: nonstop-direct (which we would all prefer), or via a hub along the direct route (which enables airlines to offer more flight options), or via a hub away from the direct route (which enables airlines to fill all their seats). Clearly, the least efficient choice, in terms of both time and emissions, is via the off-route superhub; a flight on Delta via the Atlanta superhub, increases flight distance by 32%, from 2,064 miles (direct KPDX-KBTV) to 2,717 miles (via a KPDX-KATL-KBTV routing). Current aviation fees strongly incentivize the overdevelopment of major hubs in cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Minneapolis and Phoenix, and this produces nonstop, highly impactful streams of arrivals and departures.  So, the key point is, if FAA really cared to reduce emissions, they would not waste their efforts trading local noise impacts against miniscule emissions reductions, as they are doing with these NextGen RNAV routes. Instead, they would push for an airline fee structure where each passenger ticket would reflect total direct-miles flown – and be priced proportionately, so as to strongly disincentivize tickets that route passengers via out-of-the-way superhubs. If FAA successfully implemented this one simple and rational change, they could then brag about reducing overall U.S. airline emissions by easily 10% or more … much, much more than the insignificant savings on NextGen RNAV routes.

See also:
  • 10/30/2015 – NextGen: A Formal Complaint by Phoenix Neighborhoods
  • 6/24/2015 – GIGO: Lessons Learned from FAA’s Bad NextGen Deployment at Phoenix
  • 6/22/2015 – The Investigation of the KPHX NextGen Departure Procedures Implementation
  • 6/4/2015 – [QUOTE]: Floor Speeches by Rep. Gallego & Rep. Schweikert
  • 6/1/2015 – City of Phoenix Files Lawsuit Against FAA’s NextGen Implementation
  • 5/18/2015 – A Two-Hour NextGen Reprieve in Phoenix
  • 4/18/2015 – ANALYSIS: Flight Tracks Showing Noise Impacts in the Phoenix Area
  • 10/16/2014 – Video of Regional Administrator Glen Martin, Pausing in Disbelief While Reading FAA’s Written Statement to the People of Phoenix