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Noise Questions and Answers

What should prospective home buyers in the Raleigh-Durham region do before purchasing property?
The Airport Authority can help you learn about the patterns and frequency of flights in the Triangle. We provide maps showing patterns and intensity of aircraft noise impacts and locations where noise disclosure is required for residential resale. We encourage home buyers to visit properties at several different times of the day. For additional information, call the noise office at (919) 840-2100.

When do most planes depart or arrive at RDU?
Airlines design their schedules for the convenience of their customers. The heaviest travel periods are early to mid-morning and mid-afternoon to early evening. Cargo aircraft operate late-night and early-morning flights. Aircraft can access RDU at anytime of day or night.

Why do so many planes take off and land in the same direction?
Planes must takeoff and land into the wind, so the direction of arrivals and departures is determined almost exclusively by wind direction. Approximately 55 percent of takeoffs annually are to the southwest with landings from the northeast. About 45 percent of takeoffs annually are to the northeast with landings from the southwest. The Federal Aviation Administration is in charge of air traffic control at RDU.

Over what areas do planes most often fly?
Residents living within 35 miles of any major metropolitan airport can expect to see aircraft at some point during the day. Air traffic controllers guide arriving and departing planes on established paths — shown on the flight track map — depending on wind direction and the departure point and destination of flights.

Is there a way to predict how future aircraft activity will affect noise?
In 1991, the Airport Authority set a cap on the noise air carriers may produce at RDU. The Noise Rule limited the allowable sound energy over time, shrinking the total area impacted by aircraft noise. Aircraft noise impacts are now equal to pre-1987 levels. By 2004, the allowable noise impact was 35 percent of the 1991 level.

How close to the airport may residential areas be developed?
Airport district zoning prohibits noise-sensitive development within several miles of the ends of RDU's parallel runways. Zoning regulations vary beyond the limit. The Airport Authority works with local governments to develop airport-compatible land-use plans based on projected future noise levels.

How does RDU's aircraft noise compare to that at other major airports in the country?
RDU compares favorably with other metropolitan airports because it was developed approximately 15 miles from the centers of the cities it serves. The heaviest aircraft noise impact around RDU is within the airport district zone. RDU's noise abatement program seeks to minimize the impact of aircraft noise as the communities grow toward the airport.

For More Information
For more information about RDU's Noise Abatement Program, call the Noise Office at (919) 840-2100.


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