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Charlotte Area

CLT Runway Changes Prompt Noise Complaints, Higher Costs

A federal decision to limit take-off and landing on one of Charlotte Douglas International's four runways has caused a sudden decrease in the airport's capacity and a spike in noise complaints from neighborhoods to the north.  The change may also accelerate plans for a new runway.

Sometime in the last month, Ramona Diggs' three kids started sleeping on the floor in her bedroom on main level of their house.

"Because of the airplanes," explains 12-year old Delano, the oldest Diggs child.  They come so low and loud at night he can't sleep on the second floor "cause the house be rumbling and all that."

The Diggs home is only a couple of miles north of the airport, directly in line with a runway that wasn't being used much for arriving planes. It's getting a lot of traffic now, though, because Charlotte airport officials are trying to make up for the Federal Aviation Administration's decision last month to stop daytime operations on the airport's diagonal runway.

The FAA is concerned about intersecting flight paths and is looking into the safety of such "converging operations" at airports across the country.  Meanwhile, the Charlotte airport, with one of its four runways offline during the day, has seen a 12 percent drop in the number of arrivals it can handle in a given hour. 

And that spells trouble for US Airways, which has its largest hub in Charlotte. 

US Airways executive Chuck Allen says the airline has made some changes to its November schedule.

"Those changes will not show any reduction in flight activity - we're just going to spread the flights that we get during the day over a longer period of time," says Allen.

US Airways customers probably won't notice the changes, but having planes arrive earlier in the morning and leave later at night will boost for the airline.

All of this has Charlotte airport officials saying they will soon begin a study to determine if they should speed up plans to build a fifth runway.