Quieter Airplane Use is Increasing at MSP

Noisy airplanes are operating less frequently while quieter airplanes are operating more frequently at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), according to a recent analysis conducted by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) Noise Program Office.  Most notably, during October 2012 through September 2013 there were 93 percent fewer flights in older hushkitted jets as compared to the previous 12 months. Hushkitted jets are generally the loudest types of aircraft that arrive and depart at MSP.

More than 400 different models of aircraft use MSP. The MAC studies and reports how many of these different aircraft operate at MSP and records the noise levels that each aircraft generates. Each type of aircraft makes a different amount of noise as it travels to and from the airport. The purpose of tracking this type of information is because the MAC cares about the neighbors surrounding MSP and it is important to examine how much noise is affecting them.

Aircraft type data are one of the many details collected by the MAC through its Aircraft Noise and Operations Monitoring System (MACNOMS). Collectively, the variety of aircraft types is also known as the "fleet mix." Each aircraft operator and airline establishes which aircraft type(s) it will include in its fleet mix. Some of the considerations used to determine which of the various models will be used are the number of expected passengers, distance of travel, cost of operation and airfield facilities (length and width of runways, security, space available for passenger loading and unloading, aircraft parking, type of pavement available, etc.).

Some of the heaviest and noisiest types of aircraft that operate at MSP exceed 100 decibels (dB) on takeoff, such as the Boeing 747 and Douglas DC10. The use of these aircraft models has declined in recent years. In 2012, Delta Air Lines, MSP's largest air carrier, had only 14 operations in Boeing 747 aircraft and zero operations by Douglas DC10 aircraft.

While the operation of the noisiest types of aircraft operated at MSP has declined, the use of MD80 aircraft has increased. MD80 aircraft register between 90-92 dB on takeoff. In 2007, Delta Air Lines operated approximately 2,000 arriving and departing MD80 aircraft at MSP; in 2012 this number almost quadrupled.

Another aircraft frequently used at MSP is the MD90. The MD90 aircraft looks very similar to the MD80 aircraft, but it is significantly quieter with a certificated takeoff noise level of 84 dB. The popularity of this aircraft is growing. There were only 500 Delta Air Lines operations at MSP in MD90 aircraft in 2007; by the year 2012 there were nearly 29,000.

The most popular aircraft used at MSP is a category of smaller commuter jet called the regional jet. Regional jets make up over 50% of all operations at MSP. One type of regional jet that is frequently used at MSP is the Canadair Regional Jets (CRJ). The CRJ has a takeoff noise level between 78-85 dB. In 2007, there were approximately 80,000 operations at MSP in CRJ series aircraft. This number grew to more than 126,000 in 2012