Has The Third Runway Increased Noise In Burien?
From our E-Mailbox comes this query from a Shorewood-area resident named Tony:
I was just wondering if you or any other readers were noticing an increase in plane noise today.
It seems pretty dramatic to me.
I live near the Shorewood Market and I’ve never really noticed plane traffic before but this morning my windows have already been rattled over a dozen times.
I’m more than a little afraid this might be what life with the third runway is like, but i never heard anything about a change to the flight paths as part of the new runway.
We forwarded this email on to Perry Cooper, Media Officer for Sea-Tac Airport, who replied:
Yes, the new third runway did open this last weekend, so it’s expected some people will hear more noise than they’ve heard before.
The FAA is using it now.
We have had some people call in about the new runway and that’s expected when something new opens up.
If they have any questions on the runway, I’d direct them to our webpage at
Not fully satisfied with his answer, we went out and did our own unscientific testing today, and here are our personal observations:
- The flight paths have definitely changed because of the third runway. If you disagree (or don’t believe us), go out and watch the approaches yourself and you’ll see that every single aircraft using it is now flying further west than ever before so they can line up to land (they have to in order to land!).
- Aircraft flying further west are most certainly closer to areas previously unaffected by airplane noise. These areas were never flown over prior to this because aircraft never had to.
- We watched and listened from numerous vantage points today and noticed a definite increase in sound due to aircraft using the third runway.
- At one point, we even heard loud aircraft sounds in our office in Olde Burien, something we’ve never noticed before.
Sea-Tac Airport also has a website called “WebTrack” that shows, in real time, airplanes approaching to land, and if you watch this live map in action (it’s a pretty cool use of web technology) you can see how every single (animated, red) airplane using the third (western-most) runway are now flying over neighborhoods they didn’t before:
The Port of Seattle has a page devoted to Noise Abatement, but it’s pretty irrelevant because all studies were done before the third runway opened on Thursday, Nov. 20th.
Our thoughts on this are:
- To truly test the third runway’s affect on local residents, a series of test fly-bys should have been conducted prior to its opening.
- These fly-over tests should have been measured using standardized noise monitoring stations, and the average decibel levels should have been part of any environmental impact statement.
- Were these noise tests actually done prior to the third runway’s opening? We don’t know for sure, but we lean towards being very skeptical that any noise studies were done prior to Nov. 20th.
So…have you noticed more noise since the third runway opened? If so, how big a difference? And what can (or should) be done about this?
Please Comment below, vote in our Poll on the right sidebar, or email us.
We promise to forward relevant emails and comments directly to the folks at Sea-Tac Airport, and we have a feeling we’ll be covering this issue for quite a while.
Residents can also contact the Port of Seattle’s Noise Abatement office directly by calling 206-433-5393 or toll-free 1-800-826-1147, day or night.
You can also request information or report aircraft noise through the Port’s online Noise Information Request form.