About the 4 am jet noise over West Seattle

11:35 AM: We received a few questions this morning about unusual jet noise over West Seattle around 4 am. After some phone calls, we got this information from the FAA’s Elizabeth Isham Cory:

The crew of a Boeing 767-300 cargo jet reported a blue laser illuminated their aircraft at 4:10 a.m. Wednesday while they were on approach to Boeing Field – King County International Airport. The aircraft, which had departed from Rockford, Ill., landed without incident. The FAA alerted the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department about the laser strike.

The Federal Aviation Administration remains vigilant in raising awareness about misuse of lasers when they are pointed towards aircraft. Intentionally aiming lasers at an aircraft poses a safety threat to pilots and violates federal law.

The FAA works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against people who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft. The agency takes enforcement action against people who violate Federal Aviation Regulations by shining lasers at aircraft and can impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. You can learn more here.

Tracker archives show the flight was UPS flight 988. Here’s their track on the way in, from FlightRadar24:

The statement left us with a few questions, so we are continuing to follow up, but wanted to let you know what we had found so far.

ADDED 10:30 PM: We never did hear back on our followup questions for the FAA. So we asked King County spokesperson Cameron Satterfield if Boeing Field itself had had to handle the arrival in a different way. Satterfield’s reply: “Neither our Airport Ops or ARFF folks got any kind of alert or notice of a problem for this flight.” But Satterfield checked three recent arrivals of the same flight on the same runway via a tracker and noted that today’s flight “spent a slightly longer time at lower altitude than the same flight did when it landed on Runway 14R on May 28, June 4, and June 8. Also, instead of crossing over Shoreline, Magnolia, and downtown, it came in over Burien, White Center and West Seattle before turning over Puget Sound on final approach.” Also a reminder: “As we always like to remind folks, if they have a concern or question about aircraft noise for flights arriving or departing Boeing Field, they can make a report on our website at kingcounty.gov/services/airport/noise.aspx or by calling 206-316-2515.”

9 Replies to "About the 4 am jet noise over West Seattle"

  • Flo B June 9, 2021 (12:31 pm)

    Did the laser come from West Seattle??

    • Greg June 9, 2021 (1:18 pm)

      The plane was over Covington and Kent at exactly 4:10am. It looks like the reason the plane was over West Seattle at low altitude because landing had already been aborted so I’m doubtful that the laser originated in WS.

  • zooka June 9, 2021 (1:47 pm)

    How does a laser cause “unusual jet noise”?

    aborted landing?

    • Henry Lortz June 9, 2021 (3:26 pm)

      When a key approaches on final aborting means the pilot will pull maximum power to gain altitude until he makes another landing approach. That’s the loud noise

  • me June 9, 2021 (2:39 pm)

    how does a laser cause noises heard on the ground?

  • Dean Fuller June 9, 2021 (8:46 pm)

    There was no “aborted landing” (not a real thing in aeronautics), nor a missed approach or other kind of go around.  So what are you guys talking about?

    • WSB June 9, 2021 (9:07 pm)

      Having not heard back from FAA on followups, I did confirm with Boeing Field’s spokesperson that there was no emergency landing. (Updating the story shortly.) However, the spokesperson confirmed what I’d noted in checking the archives for this flight’s history on other recent days – it took a different approach path and was at a lower altitude than usual.

  • StopCuttingDownTrees June 9, 2021 (10:44 pm)

    It went right over our living room but we didn’t hear a thing.

  • Seattle June 10, 2021 (2:17 pm)

    The aircraft was lower than normal because he was getting the laser in the cockpit for a few minutes and needed to get turned away from where the laser was coming (south side of Port of Tacoma) and get lower to get away from the laser. It wasn’t an emergency landing. Pilots experiencing Laser events are treated with special handling to help them get away from the dangerous situation and sometimes that results in them being lower than they’re supposed to be. It wasn’t an emergency because there were no injuries but it’s still handle it with priority 

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