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I-Team: Runway Use Generating Noise Complaints At Dallas Love Field

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Recent construction at Dallas Love Field has caused emotional turbulence in the neighborhoods surrounding the airport.

Pat White of the group Love Field Citizens Advisory Committee says, “It got a lot of people’s attention, and they were very upset.”

Airport managers say pilots found it easier to use the runway closest to Lemmon Avenue. But that’s near residential neighborhoods on the airport’s east side.

Ed Blair, who lives near Love Field, said he heard from rattled neighbors. “The noise coming over, another coming over, another coming over. Did that one shake your windows last night? There are a few occasions where there are thunderous ones that you can have windows rattle.”

The construction at Love Field may be recent but the airport has had a voluntary program since 1981, asking pilots to use the west side runway, the one closest to Denton Drive, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The airport can’t force pilots to stay off the runway closest to Lemmon Avenue after hours. When pilots do, the city investigates why, and if there isn’t a valid reason, the airport will send aircraft owners a letter.

Records show between April and July of this year, the airport mailed aircraft owners 609 letters, stating “the pilot failed to use the preferential runway” at night. The letters identify the planes only by their tail numbers.

The CBS-11 I-Team looked up all of the aircraft and found:
– Delta Airlines and Delta Express Jet used the non-preferred runway 79 times.
– NetJets Aviation used it 76 times.

A plane used by Children’s Medical Center used the same runway after hours 54 times. Hundreds of other planes have also used the runway, but less often. Records show a plane with Blue Star Management Services, which is owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family, used the runway after hours five times.

CBS 11 asked the airport’s assistant director of operations, Terry Mitchell, if they have some control over those who use the airport. He said, “The control that we have is that we can ask.”

But when we contacted the companies involved, we found something surprising.

Spokespeople for both Children’s Medical Center and Blue Star Management Services said they never received any letters from the city.

Mitchell acknowledged, “One of the problems we’ve had, as I said, was the letters are going to aircraft owners, sometimes the owners is a bank or financial institution or something of this nature. I don’t know that it got all the way down to the operator.” He said the airport is now in the process of trying to contact the planes’ actual operators, so that their pilots know to use the preferred runway late at night.

As for Pat White, she wonders why the city didn’t figure it out sooner. “I’m shocked. I actually am. They’re regular tenants out there. They’re flying out of there all the time. They have gates.”

CBS 11 contacted the top two late-night runway offenders, Delta and NetJets Aviation. After multiple attempts to get a response, Delta never called us back. NetJets issued a statement saying it is “…sensitive to being a good neighbor at the airports where we operate…” and that, “…we comply with all applicable airport noise requirements…”

We didn’t mention Southwest Airlines, which is based at Love Field. That’s because after receiving complaints, Southwest Airlines stopped using the Lemmon Avenue runway after hours.

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