SOUTH PORTLAND – Following a long history of complaints, South Portland residents will soon have the opportunity to voice their opinions about noise caused from latenight plane fly-overs.

The Noise Advisory Committee, led by resident Dave Wakelin, has long been fielding complaints of being disturbed in the late hours of the night by the flight patterns of planes arriving at the Portland Jetport.

For years, the committee has worked with the airport to try to reach a solution to the noise. While during the day, planes arriving at the jetport will fly over the water, limiting impact on residents. At night, the flight plans change to fly over land. This changed trajectory of the planes leads to loud noises as they zoom overhead of neighborhoods.

“Living in the area, I can attest to the disturbance,” said Wakelin. “There was a flight once at 11:30 at night that just about blew us out of our beds.”

During an April 25 Noise Advisory Committee meeting, statistics were shared regarding the frequency of calls since the October meetings. Over those six months, the airport had received 622 noise related complaints, with 519 of those coming from South Portland.

On June 5, representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration will come to South Portland to hold a meeting with residents and jetport officials to discuss solutions to the noise problems. The meeting will be held in South Portland City Hall council chambers at 5:30 p.m.

Last year, Airport Director Paul Bradbury approached the Noise Advisory Committee with a potential solution to the late-night flyover problem: adopt the daytime flight plan for the night flights.

Currently at the Portland Jetport, planes use the Harbor Visual Approach when arriving. This approach brings planes over the water, and allows for a more elevated descent into the Jetport, as there is a 3,000-foot cloud ceiling and four mile visibility using this approach. This approach is more restrictive than the regular Visual Flight Regulations, meaning there needs to be more care upon approach.

During evening hours from 10 p.m. to 6:15 a.m., or “noise sensitive hours,” there are fewer restrictions for entry, and the flight plans allow a more direct approach on the descent, which is causing the noise disturbance for residents.

“There is no reason it has to be like this,” Wakelin said. “We’ve been working with the Jetport for a couple years to try and find a solution.”

The plan proposed by Bradbury is to adopt the Harbor Visual Approach, leading all planes to use the less disturbing route throughout the night as they do during the day.

The plan was submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration in August. However, with the government shutdown in February, plans have been jammed up, with an estimate of 18 to 24 months before the plan may be instituted. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, having heard about the complaints, made calls on behalf of the Jetport to the Federal Aviation Administration, leading to the scheduling of the June 5 meeting. To fully adopt the plan the Jetport must receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, as it would require the addition of GPS radar and an official change to the required radar procedure.

The Noise Advisory Committee has received confirmation that representatives will be present during the community meeting to hear concerns of residents.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout, because we know this affects a lot of people, but they may not know what they can do. They can come to this meeting and voice their concerns to the FAA,” Wakelin said. “This is our way of letting them know how this affects all of us.”

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at [email protected].

For more information: The meeting between South Portland residents and the Federal Aviation Authority will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 at South Portland City Hall in the council chambers.

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