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MAC: Controversial Flight Paths Should Have Modest Impact on Hopkins

The planes would be nearly three-quarters of a mile above the ground by the time they reach Hopkins.

Hopkins may not see much difference in airplane noise even if Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s most controversial changes in flight paths occur and bring more planes over Hopkins.

Although the community would see more flights, its distance from the airport means planes would be about 3,700 feet above the ground on average when they enter the Hopkins’ borders, said Chad Leqve, Director of the Environment for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).

“That’s a ways above the ground, and that’s helpful from a noise perspective,” Leqve told the council Tuesday.

It’s also about the same height—just under three-quarters of a mile—that planes fly over Hopkins now.

MAC drew attention last fall when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asked the commission to endorse a new set of flight paths. This would concentrate the number of planes into a smaller space, leading to a dramatic increase in overflights in some areas.

On Nov. 19, MAC commissioners backed new flight paths over Mendota Heights, Eagan and the Minnesota Valley, where there are few residential buildings. But it asked the FAA to leave the current system in place for Minneapolis, Richfield and Edina, where there is substantial residential development.

The decision will ultimately be up to the FAA. It could decide to ignore MAC’s request and implement new flight paths over Minneapolis, Richfield and Edina, which would also bring planes over Hopkins.

If that happens, one runway would bring one heavy aircraft, 122 large aircraft and five small aircraft per day over Hopkins on average. Another runway would bring 6.5 large aircraft per day over Hopkins on average.

Click on the PDF to the right of this article to see what the new paths would have looked like in July 2012. Hopkins is affected by flights from runways 30L and 30R.

The FAA is expected to complete a review of the plan sometime in the next 60 days. If it agree MAC’s request, new arrival procedures would take effect in July 2014 and new departure procedures would take effect in September that same year.

MAC officials are hoping the FAA would then wait a year before trying to implement new flight paths over the more-controversial areas.

MAC Commissioner Rick King, whose district includes Hopkins, said he’s optimistic that any impacts will be slight.

“But impacts to individuals are always in the eyes of those individuals,” King said.

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