Wednesday, September 19, 2012

not all airplanes have GPS

The Radnor-Ft. Myer Heights (RAFOM) civic association meeting tonight addressed airplane noise.  The featured speakers were Russ Adams, Support Specialist, FAA, and Mike Jeck, Aiport Noise Office, MWAA.  In contrast to last year's meeting on airplane noise, this meeting was relatively quiet.

Airport officials have been working on a GPS-based river departure procedure for 14 years.  A major challenge is slow implementation of new navigation technology in airplanes.  Some aircraft's flight management systems have refused to fly the GPS river route because it is too close to airplane performance tolerances.  Moreover, while most smartphones today have GPS, many airplanes flying today don't have GPS.  A workaround for pilots is to navigate using their iPhone.  But that's not recommended.

Airport officials apparently put into operation a GPS river departure procedure earlier this year, but suspended it because of various problems.  A revised procedure (called Laser-2) will be put into operation starting Oct. 2.  However, only planes with appropriate GPS technology will be able to use it.  The new procedure is not likely to reduce significantly Rosslyn airplane noise.  As long as the number of flights out of the airport is capped, noise should go down long-term because of improvements in airplane technology.

Airport officials face complaints not just from Rosslyn, but also from Georgetown, Alexandria, and Prince George County residents.  Routing planes over the river increases risks of noise complaints from Georgetown.  In dealing with noise problems, airport officials grapple with difficult public relations situations as well as complex technical issues.  One obvious implication: don't expect clear answers about noise problems.

Other items from the meeting:
  • A committee has applied for a Hillside Park improvement grant.  The grant is sought for removing invasive species from Hillside Park and planting new trees.  
  • Order forms are available for ordering trees from Arlington's free tree distribution.
  • The Rt. 50 ramp to Queen St. is finally being repaved.
The next RAFOM meeting will be on Oct. 9.  It will feature candidates for offices in the upcoming election.

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