Airplane noise: Is relief in sight for Federal Way residents?

Current mitigation measures, according to the Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study for SeaTac Airport. - Courtesy image
Current mitigation measures, according to the Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study for SeaTac Airport.
— image credit: Courtesy image

The traditional approach to land an airplane is called the “step approach,” where airplanes drop down, throttle up to maintain altitude, then fall again.

The Greener Skies program is updating computers so that planes will be able to fly a “continuous descent,” gliding down in one straight motion. This will save fuel and is more environmentally friendly. It will also concentrate the noise to areas along the SeaTac runways.

This is good news to Federal Way residents, especially those living in the Marine Hills neighborhood, who should see an improvement in the noise level within the next few years.

Longtime Federal Way resident Scott Chase bought his house 23 years ago. He never could have predicted that the airplane noise over his house would become such an issue.

“I’m 50 years old, and I won’t be able to retire here because of the noise. Federal Way is such a beautiful area to live. It’s sad.”

Complaints regarding airplane noise from the SeaTac Airport have been around for almost half a decade, but residents have seen no obvious improvement.

“If anything the noise problem has gotten worse. It’s more frequent,” said Kim Springer, who lives just outside Redondo.

Chase expressed a similar sentiment: “Monday mornings are ridiculous. Starting at 5 a.m., planes fly by every 60 seconds. There is no way you can sleep through it.”

According to the revised Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study, the number of passengers flying through the SeaTac Airport has doubled since 1990 and is predicted to increase another 30 percent in the next 10 years. Because of the third runway completed in 2008, more planes are able to fly out than ever before.

SeaTac Airport gives planes a “preferred route” that makes flying as efficient as possible, saving time and money.

“That’s where I think their priorities are a little mixed up,” said Chase. “Most of us who live in Federal Way use the SeaTac Airport to travel. It’s our airport, our noise.”

Many other airports around the world have already taken initiative to reduce the noise.

For example, London Heathrow Airport in England, surrounded by residential communities, has implemented night flying restrictions. From midnight to 6 a.m., the airport prohibits noisy jets in favor of newer, quieter ones.

In addition, Heathrow Airport encourages jets to gain altitude as quickly as possible. When planes are higher up, the noise is less noticeable.

Chase has another solution. He thinks that the “preferred route” should be moved over I-5 and away from houses. Unfortunately, the way it is now, the “preferred route” cuts right through Federal Way.

Chase encourages other residents to get involved.

“We shouldn’t ever have to compromise on our quality of life. I’m just one voice. Port of Seattle is giving citizens a chance to have a voice."

Comment period

The 45-day comment period on the revised Part 150 Study is from April 15 to May 30, 2013. Comments and suggestions can be emailed to or sent to Rob Adams, Part 150 Project Manager, at Landrum & Brown, 11279 Cornell Park Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45242.

Learn more

Not everyone will see relief from airport noise. The Seattle area of Beacon Hill might see an increase in noise, according to a report by

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



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