Update on Airport Noise and the Runway Use System

13th Ward News from Minneapolis Council Member Linea Palmisano
Visit us at www.minneapolismn.gov/ward13

December 3, 2014

Contact Information

Council Member Linea Palmisano
350 S. 5th St.
City Hall, Room 307
Minneapolis, MN 55415 612.673.2213

Emily Ziring, Senior Policy Aide

Ken Dahler, Policy Aide

Update on Airport Noise and Runway Use System

In my September airport newsletter I informed you about some of the city’s efforts to reduce airplane noise. One of the efforts I described was our intention to work with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to improve the use of the Runway Use System (RUS). Here is an update on that effort, and how you can help.

(We recognize that this is a lot to read, so to skip to the summary and read about what you can do to help, please click the link below.)

What’s the RUS issue again?

The RUS is a list of runways at MSP in order by preference of which is the best to use to reduce noise impacts for the most people. The intention of the RUS is to direct airplanes noise away from the most heavily populated areas, like Minneapolis, whenever possible. The RUS, while it has gone by other names, has existed since 1972 and its purpose has always been the same.

The RUS is recognized as one of the existing noise abatement tools being used at MSP, but a study this spring showed it’s not really being used.  The airport can operate in two basic configurations: a “south flow” where departing airplanes go over Eagan and Mendota Heights and a “north flow” where departures go over Minneapolis.  Generally, if departures are going over Eagan / Mendota Heights that means arrivals are coming in on the other end of the runway over Minneapolis (and vice versa).

During the day, the RUS says that the airport should use a south flow whenever possible to send the loudest operations (departures) over less populated areas (Eagan, Mendota Heights, Minnesota River Valley).  What the study showed is that this was not being done. Instead, the departures were going over Minneapolis.  The reason for this is that the FAA control tower prefers to use a “north flow” when the airport is busy, and the study also concluded that the airport is busy from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day.