Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fitchburg, Massachusetts: Residents complain of loud noise from planes approaching Logan

FITCHBURG -- Aviation experts say a change in runway selection at nearby major airports is behind the loud airplane sounds plaguing some Fitchburg and Lunenburg residents.

Kristina Zanin has lived in the same area of Fitchburg for 33 years, and in her home on Ashburnham Hill Road for the past three years. She said it wasn't until October that she started hearing jet noises, and now they come nearly every night.

"I feel like we live in East Boston," Zanin said. "It's horrible. I have a hard time sleeping as is."

She compared the sound to what she heard during the four months she lived behind Logan Airport in Boston.

Her bedroom has several windows and lets in a lot of sound.

She and her fiancé timed the jet sounds early on and said they come at five-minute intervals. She said they are louder than the TV with the volume turned up all the way.
"If we don't sleep with the TV on now, we can't sleep," she said.

In response to reports of the noise problem, Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong sent a letter this month to the Massachusetts Port Authority requesting a review of changes to air-traffic patterns.

The jet sounds are unrelated to aircraft coming from the Fitchburg Municipal Airport, according to Wong and airport Manager Scott Ellis.

A representative of the Massachusetts Port Authority, the entity in charge of Logan Airport, could not be reached for comment for this article, but Ellis was able to provide an explanation for the sounds: Seasonal patterns of wind have put Fitchburg into the approach for jets using Logan Airport.

Ellis said it's possible that jets using Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, in Manchester, N.H., may also produce some of the nuisance sounds. He said after talking to air-traffic controllers from Logan Airport, he's determined they haven't added new routes or altered approaches, but are utilizing a different, existing runway and approach.

"You always want to take off and land into the wind," Ellis said, adding that wind conditions are getting the pilots that use the airport to utilize the approach that takes the jets over Fitchburg.

The approach is a straight line that extends to the runway and, in aviation terms, Fitchburg is close to Boston.

He said that while the cities are about 40 miles apart, a jet traveling about 400 mph will go from Fitchburg to Boston in a few minutes.

Ellis said there could be other factors as well, such as the planes using a slightly different altitude when they utilized the approach in the past. He said the Federal Aviation Administration is reporting that nothing illegal is taking place.

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