Checking: Out-of-the-ordinary plane routing over West Seattle

In the past hour or so, we’ve received multiple notes asking why planes are taking an out-of-the-ordinary route over north West Seattle tonight; several people also brought it up in the comment section on today’s story about a Boeing Field alert for NEXT week. As far as we know, this has nothing to do with that alert; we are checking around to see what we can find out, but so far, all we’ve turned up is an alert about taxiway work at Boeing Field (see the right sidebar here) that doesn’t sound as if it would be related. If anyone “in the (aviation) know” is out there, either a comment or a note – – would help! Thanks!

11:44 PM UPDATE: So far comment discussion has zeroed in on a runway closure at Sea-Tac that was scheduled to start two days ago – here’s their announcement.

23 Replies to "Checking: Out-of-the-ordinary plane routing over West Seattle"

  • Rob May 16, 2012 (11:11 pm)

    Runway #3 I think is closed for repairs at SeaTac causing all flights to use the North South line on the west side of the airport which brings the plans closer to West Seattle on their right turns onto said runway. The 747s are REALLY cool looking. Low and slow.

  • Mike B May 16, 2012 (11:21 pm)

    Runway 3 is the only one open for about 50 days, from the news article.

  • JanS May 16, 2012 (11:27 pm)

    yes, here’s the story on KOMO News 2 days ago…wondered if this was maybe the reason:

  • Lolaleah May 16, 2012 (11:40 pm)

    Maybe has something to do with the Bulgarian president leaving?

  • Dakota May 17, 2012 (12:02 am)

    I did notice a higher level of noise last night. I knew I could count on WSB for an explanation.

  • carlton May 17, 2012 (2:58 am)


  • Jay May 17, 2012 (5:02 am) is a good website for identifying planes and seeing live maps. I used it last night to try to figure out what was different about the flight pattern.

  • ME May 17, 2012 (6:18 am)

    I thought I had moved by the Airport and forgot! 3am is a bit early to think a plane is going to land in your parking lot!

  • CJS May 17, 2012 (7:05 am)

    The noise level here in West Seattle will change depending on the wind, which changes the direction that planes land and take off. Last night, it seemed they were coming in from the north to land, as opposed to Tuesday night, when they were coming in from the south (and overflying WS on takeoff/climbout instead). In the Junction area, it seems that landing planes (at either SeaTac or Boeing Field) are noisier on landing than on takeoff/climbout.

  • newnative May 17, 2012 (8:05 am)

    I was commenting on it with a Boeing employee and we assumed it was weather related. Hearing landing gear go up over Charlestown was a bit odd.

  • Tim May 17, 2012 (9:01 am)

    I don’t think this is related to the third runway at Seatac. Even though planes were approaching and landing at Seatac from the North, the noise over West Seattle (directly over Admiral / Belvidere) was from planes taking off to the North and making immediate sharp left turns over West Seattle. Between 10 and ll it was every 5 minutes. I actually thought they were coming from Boeing Field. I thought it was strange because they were taking off with the wind.

  • RobertSeattle May 17, 2012 (9:04 am)

    I tried to use to figure out what was the 737(?) over admiral around 7:40 (?) but didn’t see the plane in the historial data.

    What was odd about last night was Seatac was landing/taking off to the south and Boeing was landing/taking off to the north.

  • I Wonder May 17, 2012 (9:47 am)

    Well this isn’t narrowing in on the source. Most flights leaving north from Sea-Tac make their western turns out past Alki point, and supposedly are not to make their turn before then, over Charlestown/Genesee. It seems like it was more like Boeing Field traffic coming across because we noticed a lot more corporate jets cutting the corner, not commercial flights. The commercial flights were taking their normal north to south swing around Alki, landing at Sea-Tac to the south. And, the UPS freighters were taking off to the north from Boeing Field and keeping their altitude low, under the incoming Sea-Tac traffic. So I can’t see how the runway closure at Sea-Tac is impacting these (apparent) Boeing Field flights.

  • Mike May 17, 2012 (11:31 am)

    Like several others, I am pretty sure the problem traffic is from Boeing Field due to the low altitude over our house. In the backyard last night, in the Admiral District, I observed a jet pass over our house headed almost due west.

  • christina May 17, 2012 (12:36 pm)

    If the air traffic noise is not reported as bothersome I am afraid it will continue. I found the phone number for the FAA, 425-227-1389, they said they think it is the runway closure issue at Sea-tac. Then they gave me the number for the “air traffic division” to ask if there is a change in air route procedures, 425-203-4505. I will call now and get back to you. These large aircraft do not land at Boeing field. I sincerely hope it is temporary. I used to live on Capitol hill and a airplane flew over about every 3 minutes and that is why I moved out here.

  • christina May 17, 2012 (1:10 pm)
    is the Boeing field web sight. 206-296-7380 is the phone for Boeing Field. That last number I was given (prior message) of 425-203-4505 was a FAX.

  • christina May 17, 2012 (1:12 pm)

    Just read this on the King County Boeing web sight
    “Special notice: Over the next several months, King County International Airport may experience elevated noise due to engine runs by The Boeing Company. These engine runs are a critical part of the company’s certification flight testing for the 787 and 747-8 aircraft, which will be at the airport in higher numbers than normal during this time.

    The engine runs will be kept to non-curfew hours (between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.) as much as possible, but Boeing may have an occasional need to do them after curfew hours. This is most likely to happen early in the testing program, and the company will follow all proper protocols and issue notifications.”

    the web page again is :

  • christina May 17, 2012 (1:15 pm)

    several months – yikes

  • christina May 17, 2012 (1:19 pm)

    I opened the link at the very bottom of this notice and it explained how and what they are doing with the aircraft, contact name and number was: Jennifer Hawton, (425) 444-1600

  • Jay May 17, 2012 (1:58 pm)

    If Tim’s comment is accurate, this matches up with something that happened a couple years ago. KBFI was taking off to the north, KSEA to the south, and we had some very low passes from planes leaving KBFI. If I recall, that happened during the evening of the National night out parties in the summer.

  • 22Blades May 18, 2012 (11:58 am)

    Commercial aircraft leaving Sea-Tac Northbound. after 10 pm have a procedure that alters from the usual track.

    First: Aircraft usually land into the wind. When the weather’s nice, there’s often a wind from the north so Sea-Tac traffic will arrive and depart going north. That said, the most common wind direction is from the south.

    After 10 pm and before 6 am,IF the airport is in a “North Flow”, departing aircraft will make a slight left turn over Boeing Field and go out over Elliot Bay to attempt to improve the noise footprint. The track is a little closer to WS.

    That’s a long winded answer but hope it helps.

    By the way, I saw the 737, A320, Sukhoi 100 or whatever it was over Admiral. That was wierd ( I’m an airline pilot).

Sorry, comment time is over.