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FAA to hold open house on new flight pattern plan

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Airport noise is a constant headache for those who live in the flight paths around the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport -- but a new FAA plan to guide takeoffs has many wondering whether it's about to get worse.

"Every year, it seems to get worse," said Roberta Anderson, who has lived around Lake Nokomis for 45 years.

While Anderson understands that jet noise comes with the territory, she said that doesn't mean she has to like it.

"If you want to sit in our lovely back yard, you can just plan on 2 o'clock., 1 o'clock., noon, 11, 10 -- every two and a half minutes. I counted them," she said.

She isn't alone either. Residents of several communities near the airport -- including Minneapolis, Richfield, Eagan, Bloomington, and Mendota Heights -- would do anything to minimize noise near their homes.

A new plan from the Federal Aviation Administration to guide take-offs at the airport could do just that -- but the fear is that other neighborhoods might get it worse.

"They're going to have to decide who gets the noise, how often, and where that will be," explained Tom Fitzhenry ,of the Metropolitan Airports Commission's Noise Oversight Committee.

Essentially, the FAA wants to take advantage of new technology to guide plans in the air, focusing them on consistent and narrow paths that are almost a highway corridor on departure. The FAA says it will be safer, reduce emissions and help disperse some of the loudest noise.

"It would put [the planes] on the same path every time," Fitzhenry said, adding that he hopes to see as many ascending aircraft as possible take flight paths above highways. "It makes good sense. What we are really doing is fine-tuning where that noise goes versus letting controllers, weather or everything else decide where they turn."

Highway 62 and the Minnesota River Valley may see the most air traffic, along with neighborhoods where homes have been updated with government-funded soundproofing.

A flight pattern open house will be held on Tuesday between 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Eagan Community Centers so that residents can come inspect the plans for themselves.

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