Noise FAQ


Why can't the planes fly out over the water?
Wind direction on any given day determines when it is appropriate to fly out over the water (please visit How Logan Operates for more details). Logan Airport is surrounded to the north, south and west by land and to the east by Boston Harbor. Whether an aircraft can be directed to fly over the water depends on the runways in use at the time. The FAA and Massport have designed specific procedures to take advantage of over the water flights as much as possible. For example, Runway 22R departures are directed to turn away from South Boston and fly a course that places aircraft over Boston Harbor and out to sea; aircraft departures are directed to cross the shore line at 6,000 feet or higher and, during late night hours, the FAA, weather permitting, utilizes easterly facing runways of Runway 33L for arrivals and Runway 15R for departures.

Why are planes flying over this area, we're not under a flight path?
Aircraft associated with Logan Airport tend to fly within broad airspace corridors as the FAA directs aircraft to and from the airfield. If you live within one of these corridors, you will likely experience aircraft over flights. How and to what frequency any particular land area is impacted depends on, the weather, the runways being used, the type of aircraft, aircraft engine characteristics and relative distance from the airport. Some communities are impacted by more than one runway operation, some by just one specific operation others may be impacted by traffic not related to Logan Airport (particularly when helicopters are involved). Airport Monitor or Massport's Noise Abatement Office can assist you to better understand this relationship between where you live and airport over flights.

The Greater Boston region experiences many types of aircraft over flights that may or may not be related to Boston Logan depending on where you live. In the Greater Boston airspace, at any point in time, there could be long haul flights enroute (e.g. from Chicago to Europe) traveling at very high altitudes; general aviation aircraft (non commercial, private) traveling to and from other local airports, other commercial aircraft traveling to nearby commercial airports and helicopter traffic for medical or traffic reasons.

Who tells the pilots where and when to turn?
Commercial pilots fly prescribed routes to and from Logan Airport as instructed by air traffic controllers. The FAA is responsible for managing Logan's airspace and for ensuring the safe and expeditious flow of traffic. Massport is responsible for operating and maintaining Logan Airport facilities and for ensuring runways (and taxiways and other facilities) are in good working conditions, meet FAA regulations and are available for use.

What is Massport doing about the level of noise, vibration and pollution?
Massport, working closely with the FAA, has implemented a number of Noise Abatement procedures such as the Preferential Runway Advisory System or PRAS (see glossary of terms), attempts to distribute arrivals and departures routes evenly above surrounding communities, subject to weather and other operational constraints . Other efforts include the Noise Abatement Overwater Turbojet Routes for westbound/southbound and northbound/eastbound traffic, sound insulation of homes and schools that meet eligibility requirements, and a noise monitoring system (NMS) that provides an ongoing, continuous noise monitoring capability.

It seems like Logan has been operating on the same runway for days. Is this fair?
Wind and weather dictate which runways the FAA can use. If Boston is in a persistent weather pattern this may force the FAA to rely on the same runways for a long period of time. But, this being New England, its unusual for the same runways to be used 24/7 for consecutive days, given the variety of wind speed/directions that occur. Furthermore, the FAA and Massport (working with communities) have devised a Preferential Runway Advisory System ( PRAS) for Logan Airport. This system tells the FAA when its time, given wind, weather and demand conditions) that a particular runway has been used too long.

Can't you do something about that helicopter?
Helicopter routes are controlled by the FAA. Typical complaints concerning helicopters tend to be associated with the media ( hovering for filming/reporting), with medical flights ( when short cuts are taken in emergency cases), or with vehicular traffic monitors. Note that most helicopter flights do not originate or terminate from/at Logan Airport.

What is the FAA responsible for?
The FAA is responsible for managing Logan's airspace and for ensuring the safe and expeditious flow of traffic. Massport is responsible for operating and maintaining Logan Airport facilities and for ensuring runways (and taxiways and other facilities) are in good working conditions, meet FAA regulations and are available for use. Refer to FAA website for more details. Refer to FAA web site for more details.

What is Massport responsible for?
Massport , a state authority, is the airport operator for Logan Airport (and Hanscom AFB and Worcester Regional Airport). Massport is responsible for operating and maintaining Logan Airport facilities and for ensuring runways (and taxiways and other facilities) are in good working conditions, meet FAA regulations and are available for use. The FAA is responsible for managing Logan's airspace and for ensuring the safe and expeditious flow of traffic. Refer to FAA web site for more details.

I was awakened last night by a series of aircraft, doesn't Logan close down at night?
Like most commercial airports in the US, Logan Airport operates 24 hours per day 365 days per year. There is no nighttime curfew at Logan. The FAA and Massport have developed a preferred over the water procedure during late night hours. This procedure places aircraft over Boston Harbor as much as possible, wind and weather permitting.

Does the FAA manage jet aircraft differently from non jet (propeller) aircraft?
Propeller aircraft tend to fly slower and are more maneuverable than turbojet aircraft. Also, larger aircraft produce wake vortices which, like the wakes caused by boats in water, can introduce air turbulence that impact other, particularly smaller, aircraft. Because of their performance characteristics and for wake vortex avoidance, the FAA tends to separate jet traffic from non jet traffic and to direct non jet aircraft over a broader area and at lower altitudes than jets.

What determines which runways the FAA chooses?
Logan's airfield layout consists of five runways, which vary in length from 2,557 feet to 10,081 feet. Logan's runways are aligned in three directions with runway ends pointing toward six distinct compass headings. Aircraft must generally takeoff and land into the wind, so the availability of specific runway configurations is determined by wind speed and direction, and other weather conditions. The runway layout provides necessary operating flexibility given Logan's coastal location and highly variable wind conditions. Non-coastal airports that do not experience the same variation in wind conditions may have a simpler airfield layout and fewer required operating configurations.

When winds are calm the FAA has a choice to select which runways to use. During these periods the FAA will choose those runways that allow it to meet the demand (number of flights per hour). Also, the FAA will factor the preferential runway use goals in its decision making. Therefore, if certain runways have been persistently used than the FAA will alter runway configurations to give commmunities impacted a break from overflights.

What runways impact me?
Aircraft associated with Logan Airport tend to fly within broad airspace corridors as the FAA directs aircraft to and from the airfield. If you live within one of these corridors, you will likely experience aircraft over flights. How and to what frequency any particular land area is impacted depends on, the weather, the runways being used, the type of aircraft, aircraft engine characteristics and relative distance from the airport. Some communities are impacted by more than one runway operation, some by just one specific operation others may be impacted by traffic not related to Logan Airport (particularly when helicopters are involved). Airport Monitor or Massport's Noise Abatement Office can assist you to better understand this relationship between where you live and airport over flights.

Do I qualify for soundproofing?
The FAA has designated 65 DNL annual contour as the critical threshold to use for soundproofing eligibility. Massport submits to the FAA for approval a 65 DNL noise contour for a specific year (the most recent is 1998). After FAA approval, Massport uses the 65 DNL contour to determine residential sound proofing. To determine eligibility, a home must fall within the FAA approved sound exposure map.

To determine if you are eligible we encourage you to write or email Massport. Based on the address you provide, we will determine if you are eligible.

Because noise changes from year to year, the FAA requires Massport to periodically submit a new sound exposure map for their review and approval. Therefore, eligibility for any particular home may change overtime.

Why do some aircraft seem louder than others?
Aircraft operating at Logan have a diverse range of noise levels. These noise levels primarily depend on the type of engine used by the aircraft, the size of the aircraft and whether the aircraft is taxiing on the airfield, landing or taking off. The newest so called "full Stage 3" aircraft tend to be the quietest aircraft in the fleet. Aircraft with Stage 3 "hushkitted" engines tend to be the loudest. See Glossary for clarification on Stage 3 versus Hushkitts. Departures tend to be louder than arrivals since the pilot is forcing more power to the engine to achieve lift.

Aircraft noise is very loud over my home. Yet I was told that I don't qualify for soundproofing?
The extent of homes that are soundproofed in any given year is subject to the availability of federal grants, the number of homes already in the program to be soundproofed and the capacity of Massport hired contractors to complete the work. The annual 65 DNL is a FAA set standard. You may experience noise from Logan related aircraft but not qualify for soundproofing. This is because you may live just outside the 65 DNL and, although on any given day noise from aircraft may be loud, on an annual basis it does not reach the 65 DNL threshold.