Tampa, Florida -- It's an emergency that happens over and over and over again -- and homeowners say they are fed up. Airplanes are supposed to land only on a noise-sensitive runway at a Tampa International Airport in emergency or bad weather conditions. But, it is happening every day.
10Investigates WTSP has discovered the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the airlines, says it is powerless to do anything.
Plane, after plane, after plane fly over houses in South Tampa on their way to land at Tampa International.
David Epstein says, “They have gotten much worse, over the past two years, the air traffic coming over these neighborhoods, and have increased multiplied tremendously and it has gotten extremely aggravating all times of the day and the night.”
Epstein has lived in the landing pattern for more than 16 years. He says airlines are not living up to a noise abatement agreement. The agreement limited use of the noise-sensitive runways except when wind, traffic, field conditions at the airport or an emergency require the use
“And we have a real difficult time with that,” Epstein said as a jet drown out our conversation as he shouted, "As you can hear right now.”
Epstein adds, “This is this is definitely what we hear all day long.”
Janet Zink, spokesperson for the Aviation Authority, admits, “There is increased noise in these neighborhoods, but it is well within the FAA guideline.”
Zink says part of the increased noise is because of construction at the airport, however, because the FAA averages the quiet times when planes aren't flying over the homes, it says there is no impact to the people who live there.
At a meeting with neighbors and the FAA at Tampa International, homeowner Chris Taylor shouted, “So if could have something really loud over my house,” and then he whispered, “ then could have times of quiet underneath and so that doesn't impact my house.”
Hundreds are telling the FAA it is a major problem. Homeowner John Few turned to the crowd and asked, “Who in here is experiencing significant noise over your home?” Everyone in the packed room of at least 100 homeowners raised their hand.
But the FAA's Dennis Roberts says the agency can't even question why the airlines are using the runway.
We asked Roberts, “You have no stick, no hammer that can regulate the airplanes that land on that noise sensitive runway?”
He told us the noise abatement agreement was a voluntary compromise with the airlines and the homeowners, and added, “There is no regulation that specifies that can’t use that."
That leaves people living in some homes built before the airport was open living with deafening noise
Epstein says as plane, the second in five minutes, flies overhead, ”And it's like this everyday, seven days a week and there is no reason for it.”
There is a new study out that says there is no scientific basis for the FAA threshold for noise intrusion and the agency admits it might be true and is doing its own study.
Meantime, the airport told the FAA the construction would not have any added noise impact on the neighborhoods in the area. Clearly that is not true.