2011 Part 150 Study
The Lee County Port Authority has received the Record of Approval (ROA) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study. As mentioned throughout the noise study process (which included 11 public workshops, 6 community meetings, 3 public board meetings and 1 public hearing), the most challenging aspect is that the federal agencies do not consider the aircraft noise levels for surrounding communities associated with RSW operations as “significant” according to noise standards. The 65 DNL noise contour, the required standardized measurement of airport noise, is the lowest threshold for incompatible land use and at RSW this noise level is contained nearly 100 percent on airport property. When compared to other airports, such as Miami International with more than 42,000 homes, New York LaGuardia International with more than 7,000 homes and even Key West International with more than 1,200 residences within the 65 DNL noise contour, from a federal perspective, RSW does not have a noise problem. As a result, the FAA has declined to approve the operational measures proposed in the noise study. However, in the course of developing the noise study, LCPA staff and local communities (i.e., Fort Myers Beach, Estero, etc.) have worked with the FAA Air Traffic Organization to implement voluntary flight procedures and operational measures to reduce aircraft overflights to areas of concern, whenever possible. The LCPA continues working with the FAA as some of these voluntary measures are being implemented now, while some need more analysis. These voluntary measures have already proven to help reduce the number and/or increase the altitude of aircraft over communities where overflights are a concern, without jeopardizing safety or sacrificing one community for another. So, even though the FAA has procedurally declined the operational recommendations made in the noise study as they do not meet the technical requirements of FAR Part 150, the cooperation between invested communities, LCPA and the FAA that took place during the preparation of the study has been invaluable. This process has resulted in an enhanced understanding by the FAA on why voluntary operational issues are important to the quality of life in Southwest Florida, a better understanding from communities on what can and cannot be accomplished, and a continued commitment on the part of LCPA to document, educate and communicate overflight concerns to the FAA and RSW airlines. RSW is very fortunate to have the FAA already investigating and implementing operational procedures that will benefit communities outside the 65 DNL noise contour. In addition, the LCPA has retained ESA Airports, the consultant contracted by the Board to prepare the noise study, to review the FAA ROA, document successes to date, work yet to be done and establish recommendations and time lines moving forward. The results of their analysis should be completed sometime during summer 2014. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the LCPA 24-hour Noise Comment Line at (239) 590-4466 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.