Our program supports both our aviation and community partners by facilitating safe, efficient, and convenient air travel options that minimize the impacts of aircraft noise.
Recognizing the impact aircraft noise can have on our community, we are committed to balancing the regional demand for air transportation services with the desire for a community with minimal aircraft noise.
This 15-person committee is our official forum for working with the community on issues related to PDX aircraft noise. Committee representatives are from northwest Oregon and southwest Washington.
We encourage you to operate your UAS in a safe and lawful manner. The information provided is intended to address general guidelines based on Federal Aviation Regulations.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the sole government organization in the United States responsible for the control of aircraft in flight. The FAA’s Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) direct aircraft into and out of controlled airports such as PDX, with the main consideration of ensuring safe separation of aircraft and safe operations. The pilot in command is responsible for control of aircraft in airspace not managed by the FAA. The Port of Portland cannot require that certain procedures be used but does work closely with the FAA to develop voluntary procedures to mitigate noise impacts.
The Port of Portland completed its first Federal Aviation Regulation Part 150 Noise and Land Use Compatibility Study for PDX in 1983. This process was repeated in 1990, 1996, and 2006. These studies were used to determine the aircraft noise levels around the airport and develop procedures to abate the noise impact as much as possible. Our current noise program focuses on arrival and departure procedures, limiting residential development near the airport, meeting regularly with the Citizen Noise Advisory Committee to review noise complaint trends and other related noise program issues, and pursuing aviation related outreach and education opportunities.
Many atmospheric phenomena can vary the intensity of aircraft noise from day to day at a given location. Noise propagation, or the transmission of sound waves through the air, is influenced by a range of atmospheric conditions, including wind, temperature, atmospheric inversion, cloud cover, humidity, and fog. These conditions do not describe all atmospheric phenomena and their effects on noise, but they may help explain the day-to-day variations in aircraft noise propagation..
Aircraft in the final stages of an approach to PDX are generally descending at a 3-degree angle to the runways. This is the standard approach angle for landing aircraft at U.S. airports and has not changed. Exceptions to this rule may be necessary due to traffic separation or adverse weather conditions. Departing aircraft altitudes are generally determined by aircraft performance and air temperature. Larger, heavier aircraft with full passenger and cargo loads sometimes have a slower climb rate, meaning they may be flying lower than smaller aircraft using the same route.
The Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 91.119 indicates that, except when necessary for departure or landing, the minimum altitude over urban areas is 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL) and 500 feet AGL over rural areas.
Most of the time this is a result of local wind conditions. Aircraft must take off and land into the wind; PDX experiences seasonal variations in wind direction resulting in air traffic changes. In the spring and summer months when the winds are predominately out of the west, aircraft take off and land to the west, resulting in a west-flow pattern. In the fall and winter months the wind patterns reverse, the winds predominately blow out of the Columbia Gorge, aircraft take off and land to the east, resulting in an east-flow pattern. These pattern changes will also occur throughout the year for a few hours or a few days depending on weather fronts passing through our area.
Some other reasons you may notice pattern deviations include aircraft separation procedures, runway construction and maintenance, missed approaches, or other maneuvers performed as safety precautions.
The noise abatement flight patterns for jet aircraft at PDX were designed to keep aircraft over the Columbia River and away from residential areas to the extent possible. They were established during the first Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study in 1983 and have not changed. The Noise Management Office monitors compliance with these flight paths and meets as needed with the FAA or aircraft operators to discuss aircraft that do not adhere to these flight procedures. Noise abatement procedures are always secondary to safety in the sky.
No. PDX operates 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The Port of Portland does not have the authority to limit operational access to its airports. FAA regulations prohibit airports from imposing restrictions on flight operations at federally funded public facilities such as PDX. This was established by the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) of 1990.
There are other airports in the U.S. that do have curfews and other aircraft restrictions, but these were implemented prior to the passage of ANCA. Since that time no U.S. airport has been successful in restricting access to Stage III, IV and V aircraft (Stage I and II aircraft have been phased out of service in the U.S). Stage V aircraft are the quietest available, according to Federal Aviation Administration standards. All the passenger and cargo airlines currently operating at PDX are utilizing Stage III (or higher) aircraft.
You can file an aircraft noise complaint with the Port of Portland’s Noise Management Office:
Or through the Federal Aviation Administration
FAA has the sole authority in determining where aircraft will fly and how the airport will operate. These decisions are made solely on standard air traffic control procedures. Noise complaints are not considered when making these decisions.
However, aircraft noise and flight activity complaints are used in conjunction with flight tracking data to determine compliance with noise abatement procedures, corroborate specific events, or identify possible trends. PDX Noise Office staff can answer questions, provide data, and help residents understand aircraft operations.
It is important to know that aircraft noise complaints alone cannot change how the airport operates. Where aircraft fly, as well as their associated noise levels, depends on factors such as wind and weather, the number of arrivals and departures, the time of day, construction activity and other conditions, all of which play a part in how an airport operates at any given time.
The noise staff cannot tell you which areas are quiet, and which are noisy. That is a measure that depends on your personal sensitivity to noise. If you provide an address, we may be able help you understand how much and what type of air traffic may operate in that area.
Call the noise office at (503) 460-4100 for more information.