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Jet noise from aircraft departing to the west has some Missoula residents upset

MSO Airport Jet
Posted at 11:48 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 13:48:17-04

MISSOULA — Airport officials this week agreed to sit down with area residents to hear their concerns over what they say is an increase in jet noise prompted by a shift in flight patterns.

Ed Taylor, an airport-area resident, said the noise is primarily generated by departing aircraft.

“I’m hoping we can have a short discussion on the possibilities of shifting things back to the way it used to be, with departures going west instead of south and east, or shifting to the east and west a little bit to fly over at a higher altitude,” Taylor told the Missoula County Airport Authority on Tuesday.

The airport in recent years has seen an uptick in traffic as carriers launch new service from Missoula to accommodate a growing number of passengers.

Much of Missoula’s residential growth also is slated for areas around the airport. The city and county next year will begin laying around $19 million in new infrastructure just east and south of the airport runway to accommodate residential development.

“It’s definitely a major change in the paths of the aircraft,” said Taylor. “It used to be all the arrivals would go over my house, and now all the departures are going, and that’s when they need more thrust and create more noise.”

Airport director Brian Ellestad said traffic from fire aviation generates much of the complaints fielded by the airport. Wind direction plays a role in which direction aircraft depart the airport, and some aircraft have departed to the west.

“The biggest complaints we get is fire-related. A lot of the aircraft we have out here are the MD-80 type of aircraft that we don’t historically have. They’ve caused us a lot of noise complaints,” Ellestad said. “As far as flight path, this is the first complaint that I’m aware of, but I’d be happy to have that conversation.”