Washington – Bradley International Airport has gotten quieter.
At least that’s what the airport has told the Federal Aviation Administration, which approved a new noise map this week that shows the area affected by the noise of Bradley’s flights has shrunk significantly over the past five years.
The reason: The number of flights landing and taking off from Bradley has dropped precipitously.
According to Kevin Dillon, executive director for the Connecticut Airport Authority, the airport served 7.2 million passengers in 2006 and only about 5.2 million in 2012. Dillon said he expected there was no growth last year.
Dillon said the recession and airport mergers are to blame. When Delta merged with Northwest Airlines and United Airlines merged with Continental, duplicate flights were eliminated.
An FAA official said the agency “advised the Connecticut Airport Authority to update its noise exposure maps for Bradley International Airport” because the old maps “did not accurately reflect aircraft operations at the airport.”
“Operations at the airport have not grown as forecast,” the FAA said.
Noise contours do indeed appear to be shrinking around many airports nationwide, the FAA said, particularly around medium-hubs and smaller airports. This is due to a combination of factors: airline industry consolidation, schedule reductions, airlines buying newer, larger, quieter and more efficient airplanes, and airlines finding ways accommodate more passengers with fewer flights.
Even if there are no major changes, airports are required to file a noise map with the FAA about every five years.
Bradley also submitted to the FAA another map that shows what it thinks its noise exposure would be in the future. That map expands the area around the airport that would be subject to aircraft noise.
“We are actually hopeful of growth going forward,” Dillon said.
As for the noise level, the “determination of ‘quieter’ is in the ear of the beholder,” Dillon said. “These (map) contours did shrink, but if you are in that general area and a plane flies overhead, it will be loud.”