Flight paths at Logan changing; FAA says new procedures should quiet S. Shore skies

MARSHFIELD - The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday approved changes in Logan Airport flight paths that it says will help quiet the skies above the South Shore. The changes, in both landing and departure procedures, were recommended by the...


MARSHFIELD - The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday approved changes in Logan Airport flight paths that it says will help quiet the skies above the South Shore.

The changes, in both landing and departure procedures, were recommended by the Logan International Airport Community Advisory Committee, a group of residents advising Massport.

They are intended to concentrate incoming and outgoing flights farther east over Massachusetts Bay, so they cross the South Shore at higher altitudes. Operations are also automated using GPS technology.

"It definitely will quiet the skies over the shores," said Ralph Dormitzer of Cohasset, secretary of the committee, which represents 30 communities. "This is time to break out the champagne. This is a very big deal. This is a major redesign of this airspace. It's a break for almost everybody."

The new procedures are the result of a collaborative FAA-Massport-committee effort to reduce noise from flights to and from Logan. As a result of the study, planes will be 4,000 to 5,000 feet higher than they are now when they pass over the shoreline, Dormitzer said,

The study, called the Boston Overflight Noise Study, was ordered after a judge allowed Massport to construct a sixth runway. The new runway, which opened last year, had been blocked by activists for 30 years.

The recommended changes represent the study's first phase, which only considered alternatives that would not require the FAA to do a full environmental review.

The second phase, which could involve runway-use changes intended to distribute noise more evenly, will require environmental reviews. Phase Two began in January and could last two years. There will also be a third phase, Dormitzer said.

FAA spokesman James Peters said some of the new procedures may be implemented within months. Others, including those tied to GPS technology, could take at least a year.

"This is the first of the noise abatement procedures, both conventional and the new technology procedures, that we will look to implement at Logan to bring relief to people who live in and around the airports," he said.

But some communities, including Hull and Marshfield, may see some increased traffic in some locations.

During a committee meeting in January, Stephen Lathrop, who represents Hull, said that while Hull will hear about the same number of flights, there will be an increase in noisier flights under one of the new flight-path scenarios.

Southern Marshfield may also see some increased traffic as a result of a redistribution of airplane flights, Dormitzer said.

Marshfield, which believes it was not represented on the committee, sued the Massachusetts Port Authority in July to head off the possible flight-path changes. Marshfield did not send a representative to committee meetings until recently.

Peters said the Marshfield lawsuit will not affect implementation of the Phase One changes because the FAA is not a party in the suit.

Marshfield Town Counsel Robert Marzelli could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Sydney Schwartz may be reached at sschwartz@ledger.com.

What's next

Phase One of the project was called the Boston Overflight Noise Study. Phase Two, called the Boston Logan Airport Noise Study, began in January and is expected to take up to two years to complete.

Phase Two will address noise-abatement alternatives associated with aircraft movement on the ground at Logan Airport. It also will look at additional noise-abatement procedures.

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