FAA still reviewing one of city’s requests

After years of troubling airport noise in north central Eagan, this summer it’s been relatively quiet.

Citizens have been advocating for fewer departures over central Eagan for several years. Over the past month, flights from Runway 17, where departures left airspace over northwestern and central Eagan and northeastern Burnsville, has been essentially zero, due to the COVID-19 pandemic decreasing air travel demand.

Ted Gladhill, an Eagan resident who has served as a spokesman for the neighborhoods advocating for change, said the neighborhood has “temporarily gotten our homes back.”

Almost all the travel now is going along the two parallel runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport that affect the Eagan-Mendota corridor in northeastern Eagan instead.

Last year, Eagan formed a list of requests asking departing flights from MSP on Runway 17 fly over more compatible land uses.

One of the main requests from residents is to move at least some of the flights from Runway 17 to the parallel runways when possible.

“Now there’s barely any operations on 17, so there’s nothing to move,” said Brad Juffer of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Juffer estimated they would need about 800 daily departures or more peak-hour activity for MSP to use Runway 17 more consistently.

Still, the FAA is reviewing one of Eagan’s requests. If operations ever get back to normal at MSP and start using Runway 17, citizens may still get some relief.

Residents received news about the city’s official request for operational changes at an Airports Relations Advisory Commission meeting last week.

The request would move some flights with specific departures from Runway 17 to one of the parallel runways. Not as many in the original request but some.

Juffer said on average the change would remove about nine daily departures to one of the parallel runways if possible. That would decrease the day/night average sound level average by 0.25 to 0.5 decibel over central Eagan.

The FAA is assessing the feasibility and safety of the change, but that’s after many of the initial proposals were eliminated, Juffer said.

It’s been a long process to get here. Seven of the other proposals from Eagan were eliminated because they would increase the noise over a different community, degrade the efficiency of MSP or had safety issues.

Noise from the airport has been an issue for surrounding cities for decades.

“If anything were easy, it would have been done already,” Juffer said. “Many solutions have been tried and implemented.”

A few will never be considered in the future, Juffer said, but some may be more feasible in the future if circumstances change.

A study found that the increase in flights over Eagan using Runway 17 is mainly due to the implementation of the Converging Runway Operations in 2015.

Before the CRO was implemented, Runway 17 was used for approximately 25 percent of all departures at MSP Airport. But since 2015, the usage of Runway 17 for departures has increased to 33.7 percent, with many of those departures flying over predominately residential areas of northern Eagan leaving many residents demanding change.

Gladhill urged the ARC to continue to make sure the airport follows through with any changes and corridor compliance.

But he admitted this summer has been like heaven.

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