Frequently Asked Questions
Who regulates the airspace and aircraft activity and noise?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the sole organization that is responsible for the movement of aircraft. The airport cannot require that certain flight procedures be used.
There seems to be more and more noise coming from SLC. Have the number of flights increased recently?
Aviation activity varies depending on weather and economic factors and typically increases in spring and summer months. SLC averages approximately 330,000 operations (takeoff or landings) per year. The peak operations in the last decade was in 2010, with operations over 360,000, with the lowest amount occurring last year during the pandemic at 276,000.
Why are airplanes flying over my home sometimes more, sometimes less?
For safe operations, aircraft must take off and land into the wind. Wind direction changes by season and even throughout the day, thus altering the runways in use. Typically, this places aircraft over different residential areas. Also, when runways are closed for various reasons, aircraft must use other runways that bring them over different neighborhoods
Can the Airport change the flight tracks so that aircraft can fly somewhere else?
The FAA designs flight procedures and corridors for aircraft arriving and departing in different directions as well as and passing through our airspace. The altitudes are different for jet aircraft, propeller driven aircraft and helicopters. These corridors are kept distinct and constant to prevent mid-air collisions between arrivals, departures and overflights as well as jet aircraft, propeller driver aircraft and helicopters.
Has the airport changed its flight patterns?
The FAA has NOT changed or attempted to change any flight patterns into or out of the airports.
Why does it seem the flight patterns have changed?
The Salt Lake Valley is a unique location situated at a high elevation, surrounded by high mountains, along with the Great Salt Lake. This causes wind shear (different wind speed and/or direction across different altitudes), northerly and southerly winds and of course lake-effect snow. These rare conditions are taken into effect when aircraft enter the valley. Aircraft arrive and depart in a “North Flow (north-south)” traffic pattern when winds are from the south and in a “South Flow (south-north)” traffic pattern during north winds. Because arrival and departure patterns differ under the two flows, noise related to aircraft events is experienced differently depending on which is in effect.
Why do some jet aircraft fly lower than others on approach?
On final approach, the FAA requires aircraft to maintain a precisely angled glide slope to the runway. This means that as aircraft approach the runway, their altitude constantly decreases. Some aircraft appear lower because they are larger than other aircraft. Sometimes pilots must add power when descending to maintain the glide slope, which creates additional noise that makes the airplane seem lower than it really is. Weather can also affect the course and altitudes of aircraft approaching and departing SLC.
Which altitude are aircraft supposed to be flying?
Actual altitude levels of aircraft in flight vary based on several factors such as aircraft type, performance, weather and weight of the aircraft. Aircraft climb rates are affected by engine performance, airframe aerodynamics, air temperature, air density and wind speed:
Federal Aviation Regulations 14. C.F.R. Part 91.119 Minimum Safe Altitudes states that, except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(b) Over congested areas - 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.
(c) Over other than congested areas - An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.
How does weather impact traffic operations and noise?
During warm temperatures, the air density (air molecules per cubic foot) decreases significantly, thereby reducing aircraft performance and lift. (Aircraft performance is dependent upon the number of molecules in the atmosphere. The fewer number of air molecules, the lesser the engine and airframe performance.) Consequently, air density decreases as airport altitude increases. Aircraft noise is also more noticeable on cloudy days. Low ceiling cloud cover tends to reflect or reverberate aircraft noise downward off the clouds, thus confining it.
Why file an aircraft noise complaint?
SLC staff can answer questions, provide data, and help residents understand aircraft operations. Aircraft noise and flight activity complaints are used in conjunction with flight tracking data to corroborate specific events or identify possible trends. It is important to know that aircraft noise complaints alone cannot change how the airport operates. Where aircraft fly, as well as their associated noise levels, depends on factors such as wind and weather, the number of arrivals and departures, the time of day, construction activity and other conditions, all which play a part in how an airport operates at any given time.
Methods to submit aircraft noise complaints include emailing to email@example.com or dedicated telephone hotline 801-575-2824.