A group representing residents near BWI Airport met behind closed doors Wednesday to decide whether to ask state aviation officials to alter a flight path to help cut noise over their neighborhoods.
The committee chairman, Tom Dixon, confirmed that he was drafting a letter to the Maryland Aviation Administration, but refused to divulge theletter's contents.
If the committee recommends altering the flight path -- and the MAA concurs -- it could mean a noise reduction over Elmhurst and an increase for thousands of additional homes surrounding the area south of BWI.
A 10-month-old policy requires planes bound for the West Coast from Runway 15R to fly a straight course south for 1 mile beforebeginning their turn, which brings them directly over Elmhurst.
Elmhurst residents want the planes to fly straight for 1.5 miles before turning, which would bring the jets along the outer edge of their neighborhood and reduce noise levels.
James Edmiston, a committee member representing the Elmhurst Improvement Association, would not divulge what the committee decided, but did say he was outvoted by other board members. "I voiced an objection," he said. "I am not happy with the decision that was made."
Edmiston said the committee will stress to BWI officials that planes using the right-turn procedure strictly adhere to the designated flight paths so noise isn't spread outover a wide area.
The Federal Aviation Administration says a 1.5-mile turn is acceptable, but would require pilots to level off at 3,000 feet after takeoff so that landing airplanes can pass over them.
That could mean more people affected by noise. An FAA report says that about 2,600 houses get jolted by at least 90 decibels each time ajet takes off and uses the 1-mile right-hand turn procedure.
A jet using the 1.5-mile turn at 3,000 feet could spread 90-decibel levelover 5,500 homes, the FAA says.
Bob Talbert, the MAA's noise abatement officer, said the 1.5-mile turn means air traffic controllers will have more work. "There is more coordination required to keep the aircraft separated," he said. "It's safe, there's just a lot more control involved."
Talbert said yesterday that the airport had not heard from the neighborhood committee.