Airport noise in Federal Way: Port of Seattle seeks solutions

In Federal Way, noise issues from Sea-Tac International Airport have affected a number of neighborhoods for some time, especially the Marine Hills area, where residents have been upset by noisy late night flights that depart the airport.

Federal Way City Council members Jack Dovey and Linda Kochmar have been proponents for reducing noise levels in Federal Way in the past. For Kochmar, this issue is frustrating at best.

The Port of Seattle and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “don’t think we have a problem,” she said. “The planes make a right turn over 320th and Pacific Highway, and start their descent. And especially for anyone who lives near the water, the noise reverberates off the water.”

Kochmar said she’s been given the runaround by both the Port of Seattle and FAA. When she’s turned to the port in the past to attempt to alleviate noise issues, the port has directed her to the FAA, she said. When she consults with the FAA on how to implement change regarding flight patterns and noise over Federal Way, she said the FAA directs her back to the port.

“It’s like trying to crack Fort Knox,” she said. “I don’t know what we have to do to make a change.”

Port of Seattle representatives will be making a presentation to port commissioners for their proposed Part 150 Noise Study recommendations at 1 p.m. June 28 in Federal Way City Hall.

The meeting is being held in Federal Way to fulfill a Port of Seattle requirement for holding meetings in surrounding communities. The meeting will include presentations on “preliminary recommended options” that “include, but are not limited to, residential sound insulation programs, an aircraft engine testing facility designed to suppress noise and an updated noise monitoring system.”

Later this summer, the public will be allowed to provide input at a public hearing, and also during a 45-day public comment period.

When asked if she felt these meetings would produce any positive results for Federal Way, Kochmar simply answered no. She hopes the meetings will help create some publicity for this issue in Federal Way and in the Puget Sound region, and also at the state level.

While the FAA and Port of Seattle appear to play hot potato with Federal Way’s concerns regarding noise issues, some Marine Hills residents certainly feel the noise is an issue.

Susan Dolland, a Marine Hills resident and teacher who was on her first day of summer vacation, said she was reminded quickly of the impact Sea-Tac airport flights have on her neighborhood while out walking June 20.

“I was out walking in the neighborhood and I was going, ‘Oh my gosh, I forgot how loud these things are’,” she said. “That was at 10:18 in the morning.”

Dolland said Marine Hills residents understand that aircraft noise is going to be a constant companion in their neighborhood, but there are times where especially large aircraft make their presence known and practically impossible to ignore.

“We get some of the bigger lower flying airliners and they’re extraordinarily loud,” she said. “We have double-paned windows, a TV on, and you can’t hear anything.”

Dolland said she and her family had looked into moving into another home in the neighborhood, but had decided against it because of the constant drone and roar of aircraft.

“The noise pollution is a real irritant,” she said. “It’s very real.”

Another Marine Hills resident, Darren McDonald, said that the “neighborhood had noticed the difference (in noise) with the third runway and the way it’s being utilized.”

Learn more

Outside of the June 28 meeting, Kochmar said she requested a second meeting on June 29, to be held at 2:30 p.m. at the Sea-Tac’s Airport Conference Center Beijing Room.

Stan Shepherd, noise programs manager for Sea-Tac airport, said the meetings will continue through the end of the year. The full Part 150 Noise Study will be submitted by the end of 2011 or in early 2012, he said.

To see all information regarding noise reduction issues and the airport, visit


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