SOUTH PORTLAND — Residents on June 5 will be able to make a case to the Federal Aviation Authority for a new aircraft flight pattern intended to reduce noise over several city neighborhoods.

The Portland International Jetport approach plan, submitted to the FAA last August by jetport Director Paul Bradbury, would require aircraft to follow a precise path over Portland Harbor and the Fore River, even at night.

David Wakelin, a South Portland member of the Portland Jetport Noise Advisory Committee representing South Portland, said more than 83% of all recent complaints about jetport noise came from four city neighborhoods: Loveitt’s Field, Willard Beach, Ferry Village and Knightville.

He said jetport data show a total of 519 reports from 35 individuals in the past year.

A plan before the Federal Aviation Administration would reroute some Portland International Jetport flights to reduce noise over several South Portland neighborhoods. Portland Press Herald file photo

“This meeting will focus on the noise, but that’s not all people are concerned about,” Wakelin said. “Residents are also worried about the exhaust from planes, and how the pounding noise that comes over their houses late at night affects them in the long run.”

During daytime, Wakelin said, many planes fly over the Fore River, using what is called the Harbor Visual Approach. That takes the aircraft from the channel between Peaks and Cushing islands, to the Casco Bay Bridge and then to the primary jetport runway. This approach, he said, is only possible during daylight hours and good weather.


Between sunrise and sunset, however, planes will fly directly over the four neighborhoods.

Wakelin said the goal is to replace the current plan, known as the Area Navigation Approach, with the new plan that reroutes aircraft traffic to reduce the noise. He said details about implementation of the plan, if it is approved, will be discussed at the meeting.

The new Regional Navigation Plan depends on planes being equipped with newer technology that allows more precise flight patterns. This includes updated GPS and an ability to make tighter turns to avoid flying over residential neighborhoods.

Wakelin said the jetport received a letter from the FAA in February saying the agency was too busy to address the noise issue in South Portland. But after he reached out to U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, Wakelin said, the FAA agreed to meet and discuss the plan.

“We put so much into making this meeting happen, it is critical we get a decent turnout (on June 5),” he said. “We’re a small airport that has an uphill fight to get this RNP in place, so if no one shows up to voice their concerns, they’ve only got themselves to blame.”

According to Bradbury, the existing approach rules were implemented in 2012, and dramatically reduced noise from aircraft over South Portland.

“Noise complaints prior to 2015 are definitely down, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t an issue,” Bradbury said. “The goal, regardless, is to have the airport work with its neighbors to make sure we’re doing the best we can.”

The financial burden of updating plane technology, Bradbury said, would fall on the airlines if the FAA approves a change and new equipment is necessary. He said Southwest Airlines has already made the adjustments, while older planes on the verge of retiring won’t have to be updated.

Next week’s meeting will take place at City Hall, 25 Cottage Road, at 5:30 p.m.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.