Community Post

New Sea-Tac Runway Open: More or Less Noise?

Since we’re right on the glidepath of the runways at Sea-Tac, the CD can be an interesting place to live if you’re into watching planes. Luckily we’re 12 miles away so the noise isn’t too bad, but it can interrupt a conversation if you’re outside when one of the big ones flies over.

Last month the airport opened up the much-delayed 3rd runway to general use, and I’m curious if anyone in the neighborhood has noticed a difference.  The approach for the eastern-most runway takes planes roughly over 20th Ave as they head south over the city.  The new runway is a half mile to the west, which would put those planes over closer to 12th.

So for the folks around 20th (in green on the map below):  have you noticed less planes and less noise?

For the people closer to Seattle U (in red below):  have you noticed an increase?

And is there anyone in the area working to share some of the overflights with the suburbs to the east?  I’m concerned about their lack of plane spotting ability and thinking we should share in the bounty.

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0 thoughts on “New Sea-Tac Runway Open: More or Less Noise?

  1. “So for the folks around 20th (in green on the map below): have you noticed less planes and less noise?

    For the people closer to Seattle U (in red below): have you noticed an increase?”

  2. I have long thought that the airlines should report the home ZIP codes of passengers and that the FAA should route planes based on that information.

  3. Thanks for the article, Scott. I hadn’t put 2&2 together with the new runway and flight patterns. However I did do a bunch of yardwork over the long weekend and remarked at one point that the ‘hood seemed quieter than usual. I’m a few blocks off the main route (over by 26th), but often do hear planes. Now how about another runway for the Blue Angels?

  4. About ten years ago a group of neighbors, led by folks from Madrona, worked on getting the FAA to make changes to flight patterns, particularly take-off patterns. The argument was that Madrona, and environs, were unfairly impacted by the noise. Their effort was organized, professional, lenghty, — and not successful. You might talk to someone from the Madrona Community Council who was part of all that to get an idea of the likelihood of moving airplanes.

  5. Yes, I remember that effot. I got quite a bit of press in the papers. I think they even had yard signs printed up. It had a name of some sort (“Split the Approach”, or something). But I wasn’t surprised when it failed — the proposal was to put half the planes over Mercer Island. Let’s try it again! Maybe jseattle of CHS could do some rabble-rousing too…

  6. I live around 17th and Union and I think it’s louder and at times it seems like they’re coming in one after another. HOWEVER, I also stopped wearing earplugs to bed, so that probably has a lot to do with it.

  7. I saw two planes in close proximity heading towards the south, and realized that the new runway must have just opened because there would be no other way that the tower would allow planes to be that close otherwise.

    No impact yet, really. It’s wintertime, the windows are largely closed, we’re not on the deck, and we hear next to nothing. Ask again in April and I’ll let you know if it’s bothersome, but I doubt it will be any more of an issue than the occasional five seconds of noise as the jets fly by overhead. Actually, I don’t find it that annoying, as I enjoy looking up at the passing planes and guessing make, model, and where they are in their landing procedure based on their gear and flaps position.

  8. Now I tune it out, but the house shakes when they fly low especially when it’s foggy…I will pay attention and see if the traffic is less.

  9. I don’t notice them most of the time. If you look at their approach plates they are still 2000 feet or higher over my house. I hear the ambulances heading to Swedish more often. It’s all part of living in the city; just tune out the distractions.

  10. I chuckled at the Madrona folks who were organizing like every summer when the windows were opened… I used to fly a lot and it’s pleasant to look down and see the place you live when coming home.

    I also love the sound of the trains that I hear late at night or while watching a game being played at Safeco Field.

    But, sometimes they do fly awfully low and loud over the valley….

  11. Thank you for the information. I would love to share the bounty.
    I have been very annoyed by the increasing airplane noise over the years. Since I am outside less and windows are open less during the season, I’m not sure if there is a recent reduction. I would sign on to an effort to further share. It is a quality of life issue. Noise is a health issue.

  12. I might be impressed with everyone’s sense of humor about this URBAN HORROR, if I wasn’t so fed up. I can’t think of another major city in the world (except San Diego) that allows a flight path right over its city center. The noise and air pollution are toxic to all living things. The repercussions are immeasurable. Why do we have to bear the brunt of this? It is not a sign as of prosperity as those in denial claim. Take it to Bothell, Mill Creek and Tacoma. Just get them out of here.

    Now what about those all night every night train whistles? What purpose do they serve? Don’t tell me it’s for safety or I’ll be honking my horn at every single intersection.

    All this toxic abuse serves no one and must be stopped. Plain and simple.

  13. URBAN HORROR?? Wow, you have a much lower standard than I do. I consider kids killing kids with guns a urban horror, but overhead airplanes? Seatac is located south of Seattle. The prevailing winds are from the southwest, meaning the jets will often be landing to the south (into the wind). They need to line up with the runways which are oriented north/south. Scott has drawn the extended runway paths over 12th and 20th. This means you have three choices: close Seatac, move Seatac, move Seattle. It ain’t going to happen.

  14. Actually, they will only use the new runway during “congested” periods, which are not that common right now (the number of flights has been reduced by most carriers due to the economy)

    So it’s likely you’ll continue to see them lining up with what is now “16 Center” by way of a radar station called SODOE at Boeing Field.

    In the summer when we’re outdoors more, the weather patterns are generally different and the flow is reversed (we see the planes taking off, not landing). In this case, the new runway will rarely be used.

  15. Starting last April, or May, I’ve noticed not less, but more noise at my house one 21st near Judkins. It’s especially annoying during “rush hour” at night. I can hear them one-after-another. That was around the time when runway 1 was closed for repairs and the third runway was being used more. It’s still a continuous barrage of noise that can go from 10pm – midnight. Seems like the 737-900 are always reasonalby quiet with the worse offenders being the 747s

  16. Just curious, you talk about honking horn. Are you driving an electric car? And then you say “take it to Bothell, Mill Creek and Tacoma.” Are the people that live there more deserving of toxins? Get a grip. Move to the burbs where you belong, or deal with living in the city. You don’t seem to care about anything but how it impacts you.