UPDATE: Late-night testing at Boeing Field broke noise rules, county says; company apologizes

(777X test flight in early February, photographed by David Hutchinson)

1:57 PM: With two major airports nearby, things get noisy around here sometimes, but late-night noise this past Tuesday broke the rules. Checking on a Twitter tip from Andrew, we learned from King County spokesperson Cameron Satterfield that an explanation was posted on the Boeing Field website. Here’s more info:

What happened: The Boeing Company was approved by airport management to perform engine run-up testing of their new 777X aircraft on Tuesday, February 25 between 6 and 9 p.m. However, for unknown reasons, Boeing did not begin this testing until about 9:30 p.m. It continued until airport operations staff were able to make contact with Boeing representatives to shut the testing down at about 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

This event was in violation of the airport’s noise abatement policy, which restricts when activities like engine testing can take place. (In general, the curfew runs from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) Engine run-up testing of the 777X has been put on hold, and King County has been in contact with Boeing leadership to ensure an incident like this never happens again.

Residents who are concerned about noise from King County International Airport – Boeing Field can file a report online at kingcounty.gov/airport, send email to KCIANoise@kingcounty.gov, or call the Noise Hotline at 206-205-5242. Airport management is also considering holding a community meeting regarding this incident. We’ll provide details when those plans are firmed up.

5:50 PM: Boeing has issued an apology, added to this item on the county website.

14 Replies to "UPDATE: Late-night testing at Boeing Field broke noise rules, county says; company apologizes"

  • trickycoolj February 27, 2020 (2:21 pm)

    To be fair, those brand new engines are significantly quieter than the ancient UPS MD-11’s that take off one right after another at 11pm that I can hear from High Point.

  • Flyboy February 27, 2020 (3:00 pm)

    As a long time Boeing employee whenever i hear anybody complain about jet noise i remind them that noise puts a roof over my, and THOUSANDS more peoples heads. It puts food on the table and puts a LOT of money in the local economy. If anybody wants to complain the best thing they can do is go to Sea-Tac and picket. Demand people don’t fly anywhere. That’ll put a stop to building, and testing  planes.

    • ktrapp February 27, 2020 (3:15 pm)

      This seems to completely ignore the point that they had specific rules as to when they could conduct their tests, and they not only didn’t end before that time expired, they didn’t even START until the time had expired.  Every company can make the point that they put roofs over people’s head and food on their table.  That doesn’t give them a right to ignore the rules that have been set down on them.  And to be completely honest, Boeing isn’t exactly in the best of PR positions to be blowing off rules and regulations right now.

      • onion February 27, 2020 (3:52 pm)

        KTrapp is right. There are plenty of hours in the day when that test would  have been permitted, and I’d wager most people would not have minded. But the Boeing team involved chose to ignore their neighbors. Somebody at Boeing should take responsibility by apologizing to the communities around Boeing Field.

        • Boeing down February 27, 2020 (5:13 pm)

          Onion you are so sweet but that will never happen :) 

        • Plf February 27, 2020 (6:14 pm)

          Easier to ask for forgiveness versus permission, pretty sure they knew it would create an issue but what would be the consequences for their overt choice….

  • flyboy February 27, 2020 (3:47 pm)

    ktrapp. If we go after every company that isn’t “perfect” there won’t be any companies left to work for.

    • KM February 27, 2020 (4:10 pm)

      Perfect behavior doesn’t really exist (as a red herring or otherwise) and it is completely fair to ask that companies aren’t woefully harmful and comply with existing laws. Boeing, and other companies, have made a ton of mistakes, and should be held accountable for them, even the ones that don’t kill people. And I’m not even talking about carbon emissions.

    • ktrapp February 27, 2020 (4:22 pm)

      There’s “oops, we went 5 minutes over our allotted time” and there’s “we started after we were supposed to stop, and didn’t stop until someone yelled at us”.  What happened was the second one.  And I’ll again note that Boeing is in NO position right now to be arguing over which rules they really ought to follow or not.  I get that you have a personal investment in this, but when a company gets caught breaking the rules, the response should be “sorry, we’ll try to do better.” not “why are you hassling us?”

    • Mark47n February 27, 2020 (5:05 pm)

      This is the same argument that is often used when anyone want better regulation. It’s a terrible argument. 

  • uncle loco February 27, 2020 (4:42 pm)

    I live right on top of “Boeing hill” and the noise doesn’t bother me one bit. That’s life in the big city. Worse things happen to me all the time in Seattle.

  • dsa February 27, 2020 (6:40 pm)

    The folks who might have been impacted by this would be those that have vision of the testing area, that is the likely western part of the field.  Those folks reside on the western slope of Beacon Hill.  I’ve talked to some of them in the long ago past about noise and know they hated the runups then.  I agree that Boeing errored in violating the variance, but we have no idea of the costs of delaying a day either.  Apparently Boeing thought the newer quieter engines were worth taking a risk running up and testing.

  • West Seattle Lurker February 28, 2020 (10:49 am)

    Boeing’s culture of rule breaking led to the 737 Max crisis. This is another example that they can’t be trusted to follow the rules, even the one’s governing noise pollution. 

  • JoeJet February 28, 2020 (2:57 pm)

    If “rules” are important then ENFORCE them across the board. Boeing isn’t perfect. You’ll quickly find out that most other companies aren’t either. As far as engine noise. the ONLY people that should be listened too are the one’s that have lived by Boeing Field since BEFORE Boeing had jet’s. If you’ve moved next to an active jet business/airport since then enlighten us to your “right” to complain about noise.

Sorry, comment time is over.