In addition, use of the new runway is likely to pick up in the summer. The slow start is partly because it takes time for the Federal Aviation Administration to integrate the new runway into the overall system, said Chad Leqve, manager of the MAC's aviation noise program. Northwest Airlines' scaled-back operations after the Eagan-based carrier's 2005 bankruptcy filing also have contributed to the diminished use.
Leqve would not say if early forecasts for the runway's use were simply too high.
"And I'm hesitant at this point to give any type of prediction as to where total numbers will be," he said.
In the meantime, Leqve and his staff continue to listen to complaints and work with the FAA to try to make adjustments when possible.
For instance, he said, pilots on westbound departures weren't turning where they were supposed to 30 percent of the time when the runway first opened. The MAC talked with the FAA, which issued a new order in December to remedy the problem. Compliance is now at 98 percent.
Eagan's assistant city administrator, Dianne Miller, said the city is waiting to see if noise significantly worsens. Both she and staff in Burnsville field fewer calls, but say that's because most people are calling the MAC directly to file complaints.
Jim Skelly, Burnsville's spokesman, said he hopes residents attend a community meeting the MAC is holding today in his city.
"This is the opportunity for residents to have input," he said. "These types of meetings are how decisions are made."
Ebersole hopes the MAC hears his complaints. He and his neighbors would like pilots to deviate from the flight path slightly so the planes aren't so close overhead.
He also is unhappy with the MAC's noise monitor.
"It's in a hollow surrounded by trees and a lake on one side," he said.
"To get a true measurement, they should install a monitor on the water tower near our house. Right now, it just feels very set-up."
Meggen Lindsay can be reached at email@example.com or 651-228-5260.
IF YOU GO
The Metropolitan Airports Commission is hosting a public-input meeting on airplane noise at 7 p.m. today at Burnsville High School, 200 Burnsville Parkway Wt.
2,789: Overall airport noise complaints for November and December 2004
8,152: Overall airport noise complaints for November and December 2005
South metro residents are listening to hear if the roar of jet engines overhead will disrupt their previously quiet neighborhoods.
The city will sign on with five others that share one "at-large" seat on the committee, which reviews noise problems and complaints.
An out-of-state consultant will gauge the existing noise levels in the city before a new runway opens this fall.
The cities with permanent seats on the noise committee balked at the request and appeared reluctant to vote to bring the newly affected suburbs on board.