Serving aviation demand, while managing aircraft noise within the airport’s environs, is a challenge for all airports. Annoyance by aircraft noise is a very personal issue. One individual can be greatly bothered an aircraft passing overhead, while another individual may hardly notice the same noise.

The federal government regulates airport operations, airspace, and aircraft. The Airport is owned and operated by the City of Arlington; however, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates virtually all aspects of airport operations. The FAA has designated the Arlington Municipal Airport as a general aviation “reliever” airport, designed to relieve traffic from DFW and Love Field, the region’s commercial service airports.

  • The FAA requires that this Airport be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • The City cannot ban any specific type or size of aircraft from operating at the airport, based on noise levels.
  • The City cannot establish any type of curfew without FAA approval. No airport curfews have been approved by the FAA in many years.

The FAA also manages the airspace nationwide, controls aircraft in flight, establishes flight patterns, and determines minimum flight altitudes for aircraft. Aircraft taking off and landing use flight paths established by the FAA, and generally must achieve and operate at a minimum altitude of 1,000 ft. for aircraft and 500 ft. for helicopters.

The reduction of aircraft noise, through development of quieter engines, has been a key goal of the FAA. Aircraft are classified in different noise “Stages”, with Stage 1 being the noisiest and Stage 3 being the quietest. As of Dec. 31, 2015, the FAA prohibits airplanes with a maximum weight of 75,000 pounds or less from operating within the 48 contiguous states in the U.S. unless they meet Stage 3 noise levels. This includes all aircraft currently operating at Arlington Municipal.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do planes fly over my house?

The airspace over Arlington area is very congested, with over a dozen airports in close proximity to our city. The FAA establishes air traffic patterns throughout the Metroplex, to safely separate aircraft, both horizontally and vertically. Aircraft seen overhead can be using DFW (one of the busiest airports in the nation), but could be flying to, or from, Dallas Love Field, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Alliance, Meacham, Spinks, or other smaller airports. Military jets and helicopters generally operate from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.

Isn’t Arlington just an airport for little planes?

No, Arlington Airport is designated to relieve traffic from DFW and Love Field, averaging about 90,000 aircraft operations each year. The Airport regularly lands DC9’s and 737’s that carry cargo, plus a number of larger jets used for charters. Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland have flight test facilities here, and there are two large flight schools.

What is quieter - an arrival or a departure?

Arriving aircraft at low altitudes are generally quieter than departures of the same aircraft type because the landing requires much less engine power. However, close to the airport, the relative “quietness” of an arrival may be offset by the fact that aircraft are typically lower in altitude than departures over the same location.

What causes planes to take off in the direction of my home?

The prevailing wind at the runway determines the initial direction of flight. Obstructions such as buildings, fences, and trees will diminish wind effects in the surrounding neighborhoods; however, on the open area of the airport, wind at six knots or more usually make it necessary for aircraft to take off into the wind.

How does weather impact aircraft noise?

Just about everything an aircraft does, including the noise it makes, is affected by the weather. Aircraft climb more slowly in warm weather, making operations louder on the ground. On cloudy days, the noise from aircraft rebounds down to the earth’s surface from the bottom of the clouds, making it louder. On windy days, aircraft noise carries further at ground level.

Can a loud aircraft be fined?

No, the City does not have the legal authority to levy a fine or otherwise penalize an aircraft operator for the amount of noise an aircraft makes.

What are the criteria used by the FAA to evaluate an application for a curfew?

Listed below are the criteria used by the FAA for evaluation of curfew requests. Please note that the sponsor must “prove up” all six elements:

  1. The restriction is reasonable, nonarbitrary, and nondiscriminatory;
  2. The restriction does not create an undue burden on interstate or foreign commerce;
  3. The proposed restriction maintains safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace;
  4. The proposed restriction does not conflict with any existing Federal statute or regulation;
  5. The applicant has provided adequate opportunity for public comment on the proposed restriction; and
  6. The proposed restriction does not create an undue burden on the national aviation system.