No, the runway is as wide today as it was when it was built in 1942 – 150 feet. In 1942, the Boca Raton Airport’s current single runway was originally constructed as one of four runways at the airfield and was 5,000 feet long by 150 feet wide. In 1972, the runway was lengthened to 5,200 feet to accommodate the construction of the Airport’s parallel taxiway. In 1998, two displaced thresholds were constructed to bring the total length to 6,276 feet long by 150 feet wide, which is the size the runway remains to this day. Due to land constraints on both ends of the Airport, the runway cannot be lengthened or expanded any further.
In the past, have homeowner associations worked with BRAA to change flight paths, specifically from the west to the east?
The Boca Raton Airport Authority has always worked with homeowner associations to mitigate noise issues, but flight patterns are the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration and cannot be changed by the Airport Authority Landing patterns are based on the orientation of the runway and wind direction, with planes landing and taking off into the wind. Boca Raton Airport’s single runway is oriented northeast/southwest. Winds in this area are usually out of the northeast so planes typically land and take off in that direction, however operations can and do happen to the southwest when weather patterns change wind direction.
The landing patterns have not changed. However, the FAA recently updated arrival and departure routes to most airports in South Florida through a process called the Metroplex, despite the Airport Authority’s objections and requests for additional review and public outreach.
The routes that were redesigned due to the Metroplex are generally further away from the airport as the aircraft makes its way toward the final approach path or after initial departure. During these phases of flight, the aircraft is normally higher than when on the final approach or initial departure paths which have remained unchanged.
The airport utilizes Harris Corporation’s flight tracking and noise monitoring system. The system is comprised of 7 community noise monitors and a flight tracker that monitors local radar. Other various components process, store and calculate statistical data for end users.
The system allows the Airport to get a detailed picture of what is occurring, monitor flight activity over the area, determine runway usage, identify flight tracks and altitudes, and determine any resulting noise impacts on the surrounding community. The system allows staff to directly monitor activity issues and effectively respond to community concerns.
Noise contours highlight existing or potential areas of significant aircraft noise exposure (as identified by the FAA) and are a series of lines superimposed on a map of the airport’s environs. These lines represent various levels of average exposure (typically 65, 70, and 75 dBA).
Noise contours are used to assess the relative aircraft noise exposure levels of different runway and or flight corridor alternatives.
Below is a chart that shows comparative noise levels in decibels. Click on the link to view the Airport’s most recent noise contort map: Boca Raton Airport Noise Contours 2016- 2017
Aircraft altitude is established by Federal law. Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.119 which governs flight states:
- “Except when necessary for takeoff of landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitude:
- Over any congested area of a city, town or settlement, or over any open-air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.”
It is important to be aware of two aspects of this regulation. First, most aircraft operating near the Boca Raton Airport are in the process of landing or taking off, thus this regulation does not apply. Second, helicopters are specifically exempted from this Federal regulation.
The Airport uses information from noise complaints to follow up with pilots and Air Traffic Control on specific issues and to recommend new procedures for the FAA to consider as it manages the local airspace. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the sole authority in determining where aircraft will fly and how the airport will operate. These decisions are based solely on standard air traffic control procedures.
Federal requirements for involuntary noise mitigation programs passed by Congress in 1990 have made it very difficult for airports to impose mandatory restrictions. Airports with mandatory restrictions imposed those programs before the law went into effect.
Under current standards, in order for our noise abatement program to be a formal program, the Airport would have to demonstrate to the FAA that the voluntary program was not adequate to mitigate noise impacts in surrounding areas and therefore justify an access restriction. A recent update to the Airport’s noise contours show a significant reduction in noise exposure, based on the FAA’s metrics. This is largely due to the change to quieter, more modern aircraft. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the FAA would approve any mandatory measures at Boca Raton Airport.
No. Noise abatement procedures are voluntary measures that supplement the required measures pilots must adhere to for safe operation of their aircraft.
The Boca Raton Airport is a public airport, and therefore is required to be open for operations 24 hours a day for use by the flying public. The Air Traffic Control Tower is open between the hours of 7:00 AM and 11:00 PM. In an effort to reduce nighttime noise, Boca Raton Airport encourages pilots to limit flight activity between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM.
Aircraft altitude is generally determined by distance from the landing or takeoff runway. The closer the aircraft is to the runway, the lower the altitude. Arrivals into Boca Raton Airport normally descend at a fixed angle of approximately three (3) degrees as they approach for landing. The angle of ascent on departures is a function of aircraft type, weight, air temperature, wind speed and instructions given by air traffic control.