Dominic Gates of The Seattle Times reports that a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) trial project may change flight paths over Seattle for planes landing at Sea-Tac Airport, with possible impacts to Beacon Hill. Under the proposed new procedures, incoming planes that currently pass over the airport and turn over Edmonds or North Seattle to head south to the airport would instead turn over Elliott Bay, rejoining the normal southbound flight path right over Beacon Hill. (See the Times’ flight map.) This will reduce noise over the northern neighborhoods, but the effect on Beacon Hill is, as yet, unknown.
Jets participating in the trial will use satellite signals for guidance to the airport runway, keeping engines on idle as long as possible. This will save fuel as well as reducing polluting emissions.
According to Gates (in an email forwarded to the Beacon Hill mailing list), it is unclear at this point whether the new flight paths will cause more noise over Beacon Hill, or whether the engines will still be in idle at the point where they pass over us. An environmental assessment (including assessment of noise impacts) will be performed later this year, after the completion of the flight trial project.