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Westminster neighbors complain about increased airplane noise, dozens of planes flying overhead

Rocky Mountain Airport experiencing more traffic
Posted at 5:15 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 20:29:20-04

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- When you live three miles from an airport, the early morning sound of an occasional plane overhead is nothing new.

“Walnut Grove is due south of the airport,” said neighbor Brad Fountain. “Start at 6:30 a.m. and go well into the afternoon, seven days a week.”

That is, until those roaring engine noises turn into a constant wake up call.

“It’s not an alarm clock of choice, let’s put it that way,” he said.

Fountain has called Westminster home for more than two decades and said something changed at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (RMMA) over the summer.

“The routing of these training aircraft has never been like it has now,” he said. “This is making our lives pretty much a living hell. Last week, in an hour-and-a-half I counted 40 flights.”

Roger, who only wanted to use his first name, lives down the street and said he’s also seen an uptick in training flights over his house.

“Regular airport traffic is no problem, no problem at all. But I feel it’s a safety issue, too, for the neighborhood here,” he said.

Paul Anslow, who is the airport director at RMMA, said it is experiencing an increase in traffic volume.

“We are having a busy summer,” he said. “There’s a huge shortage in airline pilots so our flight schools are busy training future airline pilots and so yes, there’s sort of an increase in noise.”

Anslow said there are four flight schools operating out of the airport and Westminster isn’t the only community complaining about more noise.

“Rocky Mountain with the towns of Superior, Louisville, Arvada and the surrounding communities along with Jefferson County leading it, we’re in the midst of creating a noise roundtable,” Anslow said.

The roundtable will bring city leaders from each community to the table to talk about possible solutions, but when it comes to where planes can fly, that’s up to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Anslow said any flight path changes are at least two years out.

“The FAA has not changed any flight paths and pushed any traffic over to any other city than what they’ve been doing for us since we opened in 1960,” he said.

In the meantime, the airport has put out voluntary guidelines for pilots to decrease noise including a curfew after 10 p.m. and other suggestions to fly quieter.

“I believe it’s a volume thing, I truly do,” Anslow said.

The FAA said there are currently seven open noise complaints at RMMA. The agency also confirmed that the airport has seen a rise in flight traffic over the past three years due to the national pilot shortage.

A busy day at the airport before was 450 average take offs and landings, and the FAA said a typical day at the airport now is 725 average take offs and landings a day. There was a down tick in March and April because of the coronavirus pandemic, but numbers are starting to increase again.

“We want our peace and quiet back. We just want these flights rerouted,” said Fountain.