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Satellite-guided flight paths will cut Logan Airport noise, officials say

A proposed satellite-guided flight route for planes departing one of Logan International Airport’s major runways would send planes along more precise routes and reduce airplane noise in some urban areas, officials say.

The plan is to enable flights out of Logan to use area navigation, or RNAV, which uses satellite systems to keep planes within a milewide route, rather than the traditional method of visual navigation. By 2015, more than 80 percent of the fleet at Logan will be equipped to use RNAV, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Officials in some areas subject to overhead airplane noise have chafed at the FAA’s and the Massachusetts Port Authority’s public relations effort.


“Probably the single most frustrating experience of my political career has been trying to get responsiveness from the FAA and Massport concerning flight paths over Milton,” said state Senator Brian Joyce, Democrat of Milton. He said, “I have not fully reviewed the plan, nor did I get any prior notice. I heard it from constituents who heard something was coming.”

The FAA is accepting public comments through Feb. 15 on new RNAV flight paths for ­Runway 33L, which is the only major Logan runway without RNAV flight paths, according to the federal agency.

An FAA spokesman did not respond to a question about whether some neighborhoods would experience more noise if the proposed change go into ­effect. The draft assessment
is available online at ­

“The proposed procedure would improve safety and efficiency at Logan Airport and has been ­designed as close as possible as an overlay to the current conventional flight departure procedure for Runway 33L,” FAA spokesman Jim Peters wrote in a statement.

The new flight paths would alter the airplane noise experienced in cities and towns in the Metropolitan Boston area. Data submitted as part of the FAA’s draft environmental assessment indicates that some airplane noise will move from urban to suburban areas.


About 83,000 people in Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy would experience lower average airplane noise, according to the assessment. Meanwhile about 16,000 residents of Winchester, Waltham, and Arlington would experience more noise, on average, according to the assessment. Noise levels would go up and down in other cities and towns, as well.