Aircraft Overflights 101
An Aircraft Overflight is an air flight that passes over a specific area, country or territory
Contrary to popular perception, you don’t necessarily have to live near an airport to experience an overflight or see approaching/departing aircraft. In order to ensure a safe, even and efficient flow of inbound/outbound traffic at an airport, aircraft must follow airspace corridors and flight patterns that extend far past the boundaries of an airport. These corridors and patterns provide critical navigational guidance and separation for aircraft. Since the corridors and patterns extend throughout Lee County, some areas will experience aircraft overflights. For those living near an airport, it’s possible to experience overflights from aircraft training in the traffic pattern and/or from an aircraft’s initial departure or final approach.
It’s important to understand airports do not have the authority to regulate or make changes to the National Airspace System, including controlling the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in the air and on the ground. Airports are responsible for the overall management and oversight of their facilities. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates all aspects of civil aviation. As such, they are the only entity with the authority to control aircraft movement, flight patterns and more. The FAA also determines what land uses are compatible with airport operations and establishes the threshold for determining what land uses are allowed near airports (i.e. 14 CFR Part 150).
The number one priority for pilots and the FAA is to ensure safety for the people in the air and on the ground. Though overflights can be disturbing to some, they result from aircraft following federal regulations and directives that safeguard a common goal to maintain a safe air transportation system for everyone.
Aircraft noise is a combination of primary and secondary sources, which all contribute to the noise emitted by an aircraft in flight, and not solely generated by the engines.
As a plane flies, it pushes through the air, disturbing the smooth fluid flow of air molecules. This air friction generates turbulent airflow and drag, which manifests itself as noise. The sound of the aircraft’s engine's moving parts and exhaust behind the engine creates jet noise, as the high-speed air from the combustion process mixes with the low speed air mass the aircraft is flying through.
The FAA is in the process of phasing out older, noisier civil aircraft, resulting in some stages of aircraft no longer being in airline fleets. The FAA classifies aircraft in different noise “Stages”, with Stage 1 being the noisiest and Stage 4 being the quietest. As of Dec. 31, 2015, the FAA requires all civil jet aircraft, regardless of weight, to meet Stage 3 or Stage 4 levels in order to fly within the contiguous U.S. This includes most aircraft currently operating at RSW.