Thursday, May 26, 2005

Noise Complaints

Not all members of the public appreciate the sound of an airplane engine as much as we pilots do. Some of them complain about the noise. A few make it their mission in life to stop it.

A while ago, an affronted gentleman came into our place of business and asked to speak to a manager. The manager who met him is expert at public relations, but the exchange was classic even for her talents. Mr. Public produced and unfurled a map, and, placing a finger on it, righteously declared, "My house is right here." The manager looked at his map with great interest and then, in the most cheerful, neighbourly way you could imagine, placed her own finger on the map nearby and responded "Really? My house is here!" Not quite the effect he had intended.

If you buy a house near the sea, you're going to have seagulls in your yard. If you buy a house near a mushroom farm, you're going to smell manure. If you buy a house near a dairy farm you're going to smell manure and hear a lot of mooing. And if you buy a house near an airport, you're going to hear airplanes. If you don't like it, don't buy a house there. If you already did, move.

There are restrictions on how low and how fast aircraft can fly in the vicinity of built-up areas and other structures, but those rules are prefaced by the words "except for the purpose of take off and landing" because we've got to start and end the trip at zero feet above the ground.

At another company I worked, the chief pilot's assistant created a special voice mailbox just for one complaining lady. Because of airspace and operational concerns, we flew at 3500' over her house and she'd still call in to complain about the noise. Unfortunately the chief pilot always seemed to be out when she called, and his assistant would helpfully route her call to his other voice mail. Complaining about the noise must have been like a hobby for her, something to give purpose and structure to her days, and something to talk to her friends about. Maybe she couldn't afford a poodle.


Clint said...

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Anonymous said...

I know the feeling - we have the same problem with neighbours who bought a house near a bread bakery, then wondered why there were lorries going in and out at four in the morning.

Paul G0TLG

Kris Johnson said...

DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK) has some problems with its neighbors complaining about noise. However, a large percentage of the complaints come from one single address. We seem to have someone with the same hobby as your complainer.

The airport has been there for a few decades. I doubt many of the people complaining about the noise were there before all the airplanes moved in.

Lost Av8r said...

I was told in my ground school that the Vancouver International Airport recieves 70 calls a day regarding noise complaints....Some people have to much free friggen time on their hands.

Personally, I'm moving into a place mere yards away from where the float planes take off and land....I can't wait :)

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this issue. I "grew up" (primary training) at an airport that was right in the middle of a mid- to high-income Southern California beach community. Neighbors constantly complain about the noise and the fact that the runway is about 150 feet away from homes in some places.

On one hand, the airport has been there for 70 years, long before there were any homes in the area. So if someone decides to build homes or move in next door, that's their issue and not the airport's. As you say -- if you want to live near the airport, you have to deal with living near the airport.

On the other hand, 20 years ago, this airport was really just a bunch of light singles toodling around the pattern. Nowadays there are business jets coming and going about 50 ops/day, so I think residents have a resonable case for "bait and switch" -- the airport wasn't nearly this much of a noise-maker when they moved in.

Also, the runway used to be much shorter. True, they're the ones who built homes 150 from the fence, but the fence used to be 1000 feet from the threshold.

So, who's to blame? I don't know, but still reduce my prop pitch to 2200 every time I get close, because it makes everyone's lives easier.

Anonymous said...

Yep. We have the same here. Complaints about seagulls and their noise and scavenging. Well, they live here too. And you knew that when you bought. Tough.
Teignmouth, Devon, UK