(Boeing Field-provided graphic of air traffic from Thursday night)
We’re slugging our way through a big stack of followups – something we appreciate getting to do, because in our citywide media days, that’s what often fell by the wayside: If you have to cover an entire huge region, like Western Washington, there’s always something new to rush to, and you seldom get to look back. But for small independent sites focusing on a single neighborhood, followups are more feasible. Here’s the latest : Remember those low, loud passenger and cargo planes that startled many West Seattleites over the course of about an hour last Thursday night? We were finally pointed to local FAA spokesperson Bob Fergus, who confirms today what some aviation-savvy commenters had suggested:
… on the evening of complaints that you referenced, we experienced a peculiar weather pattern that, although not common it isn’t rare either, had prevailing winds from opposite directions at Boeing Field and Sea-Tac Airports. In this case Boeing takeoff pattern was to the north while Sea-Tac’s was to the south. That forces Boeing departures to make a much sooner turn westward after taking off to the north to avoid any potential conflicts with Sea-Tac departures headed south. While it is a safe operation, it nonetheless does cause more noise due to a lower altitude when turning westward very soon after a Boeing departure to the north.
WSB’er Karen also had forwarded a reply she got from Boeing Field (King County International Airport) noise officer Sharyn Parker, saying the same thing, enclosing the graphic above (the bold line was a cargo flight during that time; you also see green departing tracks from KCIA and red arrival tracks from Sea-Tac), and concluding: “Please be assured that this type of flight event seldom occurs and does not represent a change in flight patterns for KCIA.”
Meantime, we are now working with the FAA to answer a few questions that have arisen since our original inquiry, regarding regional-media stories over the weekend – unrelated to the Thursday night situation – about a possible future change in flight patterns, to save fuel. As detailed in this Sunday story from seattletimes.com (WSB partner), the potential change could result in turns over Elliott Bay rather than over North Seattle. Would that mean more jet noise for West Seattle? What’s the status of this proposal and how can you comment on it? Look for a separate update with whatever we find out.