New flight system could make travel quicker — but noisier for people on the ground

Airline passengers could see fewer flight delays and shorter travel times as federal regulators change how they handle planes in Florida’s congested airways.

The plans are a mixed blessing, though, for people on the ground. Airplane noise might affect fewer neighborhoods, but the disturbances could increase for people under revamped flight paths.

The changes represent the Federal Aviation Administration’s effort to bring the country’s airways into the 21st century, relying on satellite-based technology instead of ground radar to control flights.

Here’s what you need to know about the changes.

In the Lauderdale Isles neighborhood northwest of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, residents want to see flights taking off to the west travel farther out before turning north, so as to avoid their homes. But those desires may be at odds with making flights more efficient and allowing northbound planes to take a more direct path to their destinations.

The FAA’s initial proposal would still have some Fort Lauderdale planes taking off to the west bank to the north shortly after take-off, sending them over or near Lauderdale Isles. Because of the narrower corridor, it could make the noise even worse for some neighborhoods.

That leaves Richard Cahoon of Lauderdale Isles skeptical about the metroplex plan.

“I’m very suspicious of it given what I’ve heard, all the complaints that are rolling out across the country about Metroplex.

What about when planes land?

Landings should be quieter. Planes will be able to glide to a landing at a very low idle because their approach and place in line can be determined while they are still hundreds of miles away.

In the past, planes have descended in a stair-step fashion: a rapid descent followed by leveling off and acceleration, then another rapid descent and leveling off and acceleration. The acceleration burns more fuel and increases the noise.

Are the changes in place at other airports?

The FAA has completed similar regional projects in Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, D.C., Houston, North Texas, Northern California and Southern California. Changes are contnuing in the Cleveland-Detroit region. Work has also been completed at many individual airports. Metroplex projects are now in the design phase in Florida, Denver and Las Vegas.

What happened in those places?

Many communities where the changes have been implemented have complained that they’re experiencing greater noise — or experiencing loud noise for the first time. That’s the situation at Baltimore’s airport, which led Maryland to challenge the FAA in court. Other challenges have been brought in California and Arizona.

Why the push to modernize?