How busy is the Airport?
In 2019, the Airport experienced 232,592 aircraft and helicopter operations, landing Prescott Regional Airport as the 5th busiest airport in Arizona and the 45th busiest airport in the nation.
See the following graphics to gain a better understanding of the Airport’s traffic:
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How is the level of airport activity measured?
The FAA measures activity levels based on numbers of aircraft operations in and above the Airport. The FAA defines an operation as: One takeoff, landing, or aircraft flying through Prescott’s airspace.
Can City of Prescott limit the kinds of aircraft or the times that pilots use the Airport?
Federal law requires the Airport to remain open to the public 24/7 on a non-discriminatory basis – including both civilian and military aircraft.
While the Airport publishes information about the length, width, and strength of its runways to all pilots, pilots decide whether or not their aircraft can safely land and take off.
Who do I contact about low-flying planes?
File safety concerns with the FAA Flight Standards District Office located in Scottsdale at (480) 419-0111.
This office investigates low-flying flight incidents at Prescott Regional Airport and they will determine whether or not a particular incident is safe or unsafe, if possible.
General Noise Mitigation
What happens when I submit a noise complaint or Aircraft Incident Comment?
All comments are entered into a database and correlated with a particular aircraft event, if possible.
Currently, the Airport has limited resources to identify aircraft and specifics related to a reported incident, including aircraft identification number, runway-in-use, aircraft operation. However, the Airport is exploring options to increase capabilities in order to help better understand and identify the circumstances associated with a particular noise or safety event.
Until airport staff has access to better technology, they must rely on the information provided by residents when they make incident reports. Therefore, the community should provide the most accurate information possible.
Submitting reports assists with measuring the effectiveness of the Noise Abatement Program. Reports also assist the Airport in its efforts to educate pilots and aviation businesses about the importance of ‘Flying Friendly.’
All reports made to the Airport are subject to public inspection through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Can City of Prescott fine or prevent “noisy” pilots from using the Airport?
Since the Airport’s noise abatement program is voluntary, it cannot fine or prohibit a pilot from landing or taking off from the Airport.
Note: Sometimes, pilots may not be able to safely comply with the recommended noise abatement practices, due to reasons such as aircraft weight or hot weather conditions.
Who is responsible for aircraft noise?
The Prescott Regional Airport is part of the National Air Transportation System and plays a vital role in the local, regional, and national aviation system. However, many different organizations share responsibility for various elements of a noise abatement program, and airport operators are just one of many responsible parties. The various participants in the aircraft noise abatement issues and their roles include:
1. The Federal Government
The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 established the management of navigable airspace as a federal responsibility. Every facet of it is governed by the FAA. They exercise control of aircraft noise through:
- Establishing aircraft noise emissions standards
- Managing the Air Traffic Control System
- Noise Compatibility Studies
- Licensing of Pilots & Enforcement of Flight Regulations
2. State of Arizona
State regulations affect disclosure of aircraft flight paths and noise. Arizona Revised Statute 28-8486 Public Airport Disclosure requires the recording of public airport disclosure maps. The maps provide information to prospective homebuyers, as well as current homeowners, regarding flight patterns at or near an airport. Find this map here.
3. Local Government (i.e. City of Prescott, Yavapai County). Local governments have authority that governs land use planning, zoning and other local building codes. Prior to 1990, some local governments passed regulations on local aircraft operations at airports. However, Congress severely limited local governments from enacting any new mandatory regulations by passing the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA). This has resulted in only a small number of airports having local “grandfathered” mandatory noise regulations that were in place prior to 1990.
4. Airport Operators. Airport operators (City of Prescott) are responsible for the planning, development and maintenance of the Airport.
5. Pilots. Pilots are responsible for operating their aircraft safely, while complying with all FAA rules governing flight and air traffic control instructions. National, state, and local pilot associations actively encourage their members to “fly friendly” and use noise abatement procedures whenever possible, consistent with safety
6. Residents. The Federal Aviation Noise Abatement Policy 2000 states that “current and prospective residents in areas surrounding airports should seek to understand the aircraft noise problem and what steps can and cannot be taken to minimize its effects. Prospective home buyers should research the location of airports and flight paths and determine if aircraft noise would affect their quality of life.”
How has City of Prescott mitigated the effects of noise on area residents?
The Airport’s implementation role is focused on communication. By continually communicating our recommended noise abatement practices with the appropriate parties, City of Prescott is better able to influence cultural changes that will impact the way pilots fly to & from the Airport. Outreach efforts are all encompassing and include contact with various levels of the FAA, Prescott-based pilots, pilots not based here, flight training schools, and aviation businesses to help educate and inform them of City of Prescott’s noise abatement program goals. This is a continuous, on-going effort.
Outreach is accomplished via this website, social media, meetings, workshops, written correspondence, and materials.
Why should I call in or complete an online noise complaint form?
Pilot education is a major part of our noise abatement program. Review of complaints received assists Prescott Regional Airport to determine if there are any trends that may be addressed to enhance the education program.
How does the weather and season affect aircraft noise?
Individuals will usually notice an increase in aircraft noise during cooler months (spring & fall) when windows are more likely to be open and people are outside. During the hotter summer months, an aircraft’s ability to gain altitude quickly decreases due to the heat, they stay lower for longer, and more power is required for the aircraft to gain altitude. A low cloud cover will also create more noise because the sound resonates back to the ground instead of disbursing throughout the atmosphere. As air density becomes thicker and the air is cooler and dryer, the air molecules are closer together, resulting in the sound conducting better, traveling longer distances and appearing louder to the common ear.
When does an aircraft make the most noise?
Most noise comments originate from aircraft operations during the initial phase of their take-off or during the final phase of landing. Since individuals have a wide range of sensitivity to noise, the extent of noise impact varies greatly among individuals. The noise level perceived at any given point on the ground can vary widely based on a number of factors. These include:
- Aircraft type and size. A common misconception is that the larger the aircraft the louder they become, however this is not necessarily the case. As a whole, Prescott receives most of its noise complaints from light aircraft and low flying helicopters. While there has been a growing number of corporate jets using the field on our field many of these aircraft have been built with newer, more efficient engines which are designed to greatly limit their noise output. Military aircraft and helicopters are designed to a different standard than civilian aircraft.
- Aircraft load. Passenger and aviation fuel loads can affect noise levels. Heavier loaded aircraft generally climb at a slower rate and require the use of more engine power, increasing the noise exposure to residences near the Airport.
- Weather. Weather can also affect noise levels. Dense low cloud cover may reflect noise back to the ground, producing an “echo” effect which may intensify noise levels.
- Time of Day. Aircraft operations during nighttime or early morning hours may have a greater noise impact due to the time of day. People are often more sensitive to noise during normal “sleeping” hours. The same noise level and operation may actually seem worse during these hours due to this increased sensitivity. Aircraft noise may also appear to be louder because of the absence of other sounds heard throughout the day from things such as automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, lawn mowers, televisions, and loud music.
- Season. Aircraft noise is often a greater nuisance during seasons when residents leave their doors and windows open. During the summer and winter months, homes usually have the doors and windows closed, limiting the exposure to outside noise sources. During the spring and fall, when temperatures are more moderate, residents often have the doors and windows of their home open. During these times, people may be more sensitive to outside noise.
- Human Factors. Noise affects different people in different ways. Some are more sensitive to noise in general. Different people may be more or less sensitive to certain types or sources of noise. Individuals living in the same neighborhood or even within the same home may also have different levels of sensitivity to noise.
For Homeowners / Prospective Homeowners
I am moving near the Airport soon. What do I need to know?
A Prospective Homeowners Guide coming soon. For now, see this page.
Can aircraft be diverted from where I live so that they do not fly over my house?
The FAA Air Traffic Control Tower manages the airspace at and around the Airport. Because the total amount of airspace near the Airport is limited, the FAA must establish flight patterns based upon nationally-used standards to and from Prescott much like highways in the sky. These highways often fall over homes located in the vicinity of the Airport, especially as more homes are built in the near the Airport.
How can City of Prescott help keep airplanes from flying over my neighborhood?
Once a pilot communicates with the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower and leaves the runway pavement, the aircraft is under the authority of the FAA and the pilot.
Through feedback received from the community, Prescott Regional Airport can monitor noise-sensitive areas and work with the FAA and pilots to try to avoid flying over these areas as much as possible consistent with national air traffic control standards, as long as safety is not jeopardized.
Although it is impossible to completely shield residents from aircraft noise, Airport staff issues several recommendations aimed at reducing the effects of noise on neighborhoods. In general, the recommendations include the following:
- Using certain runways for training operations to avoid noise sensitive neighborhoods as weather and traffic conditions permit;
- Requesting pilots avoid conducting repetitive flight operations (touch & go’s) during certain hours (10:00 pm to 6:00 am);
- Maintaining certain minimum altitudes when flying over populated areas (take-offs and landing excluded);
- Flying high, tight rectangular patterns, consistent with safety regulations and when traffic conditions allow;
- Avoiding early turnouts when departing on Runway 21L; and
- Making certain engine power reductions after takeoff and during landings to avoid creating a sudden noise event.
How low can aircraft legally fly over a residential area?
Aircraft altitude is established by Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.119. It is important to be aware of two aspects of this regulation which address minimum safe altitudes. First, most aircraft operating in the vicinity of the Airport are in the process of landing or taking off. In these cases, this regulation does not apply. Second, helicopters are exempted from this federal regulation. Helicopters are not subject to the minimum altitude restrictions required of fixed wing aircraft provided that the operation of the helicopter is conducted safely.
The minimum traffic pattern altitudes for Prescott Airport are:
• Light Aircraft – All Runways 6,045 Mean Sea Level (MSL) (1,000 Above Ground Level – AGL).
• Large Aircraft, all turbo prop/jet and high performance aircraft – All Runways 6,545 MSL (1500 AGL).
How is City of Prescott decreasing noise over residential areas?
Prescott Regional Airport has developed the Airport’s noise abatement program to help minimize noise impacts as much as possible over residential areas located near the Airport.
Unfortunately, the proximity of the residential areas surrounding the Airport equates to some level of inevitable exposure to aircraft noise. However, City of Prescott strives to minimize aircraft noise exposure as much as possible, while still serving the needs of airport tenants and users.
Can aircraft fly over the open ranch land areas instead of over residential neighborhoods?
Specific flight paths are determined based on several factors, including weather conditions, the direction of the prevailing wind and air traffic management by the Airport Traffic Control Tower. However, to maintain safe distances between airborne aircraft, it is often necessary for aircraft to fly over residential areas.
Why am I noticing changes in airplane numbers flying over my house?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the Air Traffic Control Tower located at the Airport controls the movement of all aircraft on the ground and in the airspace over and around the Airport.
The FAA has not changed or attempted to change any flight patterns into or out of the Airport. Flight patterns may change due to weather and/or wind conditions and these patterns are generally used only temporarily until wind or weather conditions subside.