Noise Abatement Questions
Why is Cape Cod Gateway Airport so close to residential neighborhoods?
The airport has had commuter service to Boston and Nantucket since 1929. As the towns of Barnstable and Yarmouth grew, residential neighborhoods moved closer to the airport, and more homes were built in flight paths. Cape Cod Gateway Airport is landlocked, so aircraft using the airport have no other choice but to fly over populated areas.
I am considering moving to the area and want to know how close my house may be to the airport and air traffic?
Why can’t aircraft fly over open spaces like golf courses, lakes or ponds?
While the optimum flight path would be over open space, unfortunately there are no clear paths of open space for aircraft to follow exclusively. HYA’s flight paths are viewable here.
Can’t the airport just divert air traffic away from my neighborhood once in a while?
The airport does not attempt to meet any numerical quota when dealing with air traffic issues. The experience of the air traffic controller (during tower hours of operations), wind, other weather factors, surrounding air traffic, the capabilities of the aircraft and the judgment of the pilot, all affect the decision on which runway to use for arrivals and departures or which flight path to take. We do not use one runway or another a set number of times within any given time period or direct flights over a neighborhood for any given interval. Safety is always the primary concern.
Why are the noise abatement flight paths voluntary? Can’t you fine “problem” pilots or air carriers or prevent them from using the airport?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits mandated restriction of flight paths, hours of operation and unduly prohibition of open access to airports. The only exception is for airports which had restrictions in place prior to a 1990s congressional act. Therefore, our noise abatement program can only be voluntary. Cape Cod Gateway Airport is prohibited by federal law from levying fines, restricting hours of operation or restricting access to the airport (or the route by which an aircraft has access to the airport) to aid with noise abatement. We must rely solely on the continual notification, education and compliance of aircraft operators. Noise abatement is dictated by safety considerations as well as federal law.
What time does Cape Cod Gateway Airport close?
Consistent with federal law, the airport is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The air traffic control tower is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., but aircraft are permitted to operate after the tower closes. During these after-hours, air traffic is controlled by facilities in Manchester, NH.
How do I report noise, and what happens to my complaint?
Noise complaints may be called into the airport’s dedicated noise abatement line: 508-862-8268. You must provide your name, the date, time and location of the incident. You may leave your telephone number if you would like a return call or specify that you would like a written response. All noise complaints are tracked according to the FAA Part 150 Noise Study. The noise complaints are also investigated with our vector Flight Tracking System. Complaints are compiled monthly and reported to the Cape Cod Gateway Airport Commission, the Hyannis Air Traffic Control manager and the chief pilots of the commercial air carriers. We encourage the air carriers to follow voluntary noise abatement flight paths when safety allows, and to respect the airport’s voluntary noise curfew.
How does the flight tracking system track the aircraft?
The airport’s flight tracking system works with nex gen aircraft tracking. This tracking records the aircraft’s altitude, flight path, speed and arrival/departure. More sophisticated transponders also report the aircraft’s tail number, manufacturer and owner. This system tracks the aircraft from ground level up to five miles out.
I witnessed a pilot flying in a very dangerous manner. How should I report the pilot?
If you witness an aircraft flying in an unsafe manner and you believe the situation requires immediate attention, please contact the FAA Aviation Safety Hotline at 800 255-1111.
Why do aircraft fly in different paths when the weather is cloudy rather than clear?
During good weather flying conditions, or VFR (Visual Flight Rules), pilots fly in the airport’s voluntary noise abatement flight paths. When the weather is inclement (when the ceiling in less than 1,000 feet and visibility is less than three miles), air traffic controllers choose paths based on weather, wind and traffic for the safest possible route. While the IFR paths differ from the VFR path – based on traffic and safety concerns – a pilot may be directed in a VFR path while flying IFR.
My town has a noise ordinance. Isn’t Cape Cod Gateway Airport in violation of this ordinance by the hours the aircraft are allowed to fly?
No. As mentioned above, airport access is regulated by the FAA and federal law which supersedes state laws and local ordinances.