Tampa Residents Complain About Biz Jets

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Singling Out Corporate Operators ...

It never fails. Those who chose to live near busy airports are often the first ones to complain about aircraft noise. Such is the case at Tampa International Airport, where local residents are not complaining about the airliners themselves, rather the small amount of corporate jets that fly in there. "The airport handles only one-tenth as much corporate jet traffic as commercial airline traffic," said Ken Reed, the airport's noise officer. The airport received 80 complaints about noise from 24 people from August through October, compared with 79 complaints from 19 people the previous three months. Yet corporate jets account for half of the noise complaints. That's because corporate pilots are more likely to use an eastern runway that brings their aircraft in over the airport's southern neighbors -- and their passengers more quickly to their terminal.

... But Are They Justified?

"The number-one reason is the [corporate terminal] is on the east side of the airport and pilots don't want corporate executives to wait in the back of the airplane while they taxi," Reed said. "Some corporate jet pilots also think they can land on the eastern runway because their aircraft are quieter than commercial jets, but that's contrary to airport policy," Reed added. The airport's noise-reduction procedures urge all jet aircraft approaching from the south to land on a runway west of the terminal unless safety conditions dictate using a parallel runway east of the terminal. Tampa International has tracked landings since July 2001 to determine whether pilots request a runway assignment change to the eastern runway -- Runway 36R -- on final approach to save time and fuel taxiing to gates on that side of the airport. According to the Associated Press, Outback Steakhouse's corporate jet approached from the south 37 times during the airport's 14-month study period, landing 73 percent of the time on the eastern runway instead of the western one. After talking with airport officials, the company has agreed to fully participate in the noise-abatement program, Outback Senior Vice President Joe Kadow said. Rooms To Go, Sykes Enterprises and Just Jets Air Charters were frequent users of the airport that used Runway 36R less than 25 percent of the time on their jets' landings from the south.