Most airplanes landing at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are using less fuel than they did in the past thanks to new procedures for arriving flights, Metropolitan Airports Commission officials said.
Planes have burned nearly 3 million fewer gallons of fuel per year since the procedure was implemented two years ago, Airports commission officials estimate, which could result in a reduction of tens of thousands of metric tons of carbon dioxide in the air around the airport.
Under the new procedure, planes stay at cruising altitude longer and then make a single, steady approach to the airport, MAC executive director and CEO Brian Ryks said.
"By keeping the aircraft throttle pulled back, they burn less fuel," said Ryks. "And consequently, [they] emit less carbon dioxide exhaust than they would using a traditional, staged descent to the runway."
Approaching planes may burn less fuel, but that doesn't mean people living near the airport will hear a reduction in airplane noise. Airports commission officials say the new procedures were designed to cut down on carbon dioxide, not the audible emissions made by airplane engines.
Steve Kittleson, co-founder of an airport watchdog group called MSP FairSkies Coalition, welcomes the news about air quality improvements. But he said the procedure only address one part of his group's concerns.
Aircraft noise is on the rise, Kittleson said.
"As this airport grows, we need to find creative ways to accept the growth and still share the noise across the Twin Cities that's acceptable to everybody who actually lives in the Twin Cities," said Kittleson.
Three years ago, opposition forced the Federal Aviation Administration to scrap a plan that would've narrowed routes on departures.
Airports commission officials say demand has led to an increase in evening air traffic over parts of southwest Minneapolis.
Passengers should also notice a smoother descent, said Delta Airlines pilot Gordy Goss. Before this procedure, planes would speed up and slow down causing noticeable changes in air pressure in the cabin.
"This is just one single power reduction and then a smooth arrival all the way," said Goss.