A year-long study by Centennial Airport — the second busiest general-aviation airport in the United States— shows a significantly reduced noise footprint in the surrounding area.
The study, which forms the basis of the airport's recently completed Noise Exposure Map draft, shows the boundaries of areas affected by planes taking off and landing has shrunk by 960 acres and no longer includes any homes.
In 2008, the last time the noise exposure map was updated, the area included 1,300 homes.
Centennial Airport attributes the reduced noise primarily to the improvement of aircraft design and technology, the elimination of outdated jet engines and the improvement of GPS for better route mapping, said Aaron Repp, Centennial Airport noise and environmental specialist.
Airport officials wanted to update the map to identify noise-sensitive areas for potential homeowners, developers, hospitals, libraries and other establishments that might want to locate nearby.
“Part of this is the noise exposure, but another part is the land use around the area and making sure there is compatible land use,” said Mike Fronapfel, Centennial Airport director of planning and development. “We want to provide the cities and counties with as much information as possible to make the right decisions for their residents.”
About the study
Centennial Airport straddles Arapahoe and Douglas counties just east of I-25, south of Arapahoe Road and north of E-470. Among general-aviation facilities, only Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix is busier than Centennial, which averages more than 800 take-offs and landings a day.
The study focused on the airport's influence area, which extends from Yosemite Street on the west, Parker Road on the east, Belleview Avenue on the north and RidgeGate Parkway to the south. It looked at data between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015.
Fronapfel said the operational data was gathered from a noise and operations monitoring system and then put into a modeling program to create the contours, or the footprint of the noise-affected area.
The model used to create the contours, which essentially visualizes aircraft noise, records the different types of aircraft flown throughout the year and takes into account factors such as topography.
The noise exposure measurements are not stagnant. Similar to the amount of traffic on I-25, they shrink or expand depending on operational volume and the direction of traffic.
“What is important to understand is that this is just a snapshot,” Fronapfel said. “This is a static image of a year-long collection of what the operational noise is around the airport.”
The map, which is awaiting final approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, projects existing sound conditions for the next five years.
Map beneficial to development
The Heritage Hills neighborhood near I-25 and Lincoln Avenue in Lone Tree, about eight miles from the airport, is one of the residential areas no longer included in the noise exposure area, according to the draft.
Homeowner association president Pam Ladnier said she has not received any formal complaints about the airport from residents in her three years as president.
The noise map shows that a Holiday Inn and Suite, scheduled to open in late December at 6638 S. Nome Court in Centennial, is the only noise-sensitive establishment in the defined area of aircraft noise. The hotel is two miles from the airport.
According to Tony Sprouse, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, the hotel worked with the airport to ensure noise would not be an issue. Windows are triple-pane and the building has extra insulation.
“Of course, we did not want irritated guests giving us noise complaints,” Sprouse said. “I really don't think it will be an issue. It was a concern to me at first, but after being in the building, it really isn't. (The hotel planners) took the right precautions and did the right construction to alleviate that noise.
Derek Holcomb, Centennial's deputy director of community development, said the city is excited about using the map to help determine future development.
Jeff Holwell, Lone Tree's director of economic development, echoed Holcomb and noted that developers interested in the east side of Lone Tree have been working with the airport for years.
“In the very big picture, the presence of Centennial Airport is a great economic asset to the community,” Holwell said. “That is an asset that we are very excited about and protective of. We want to be a partner to the airport and the influence area they have.”