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City Of Southlake Looking To Reduce Aircraft Noise

SOUTHLAKE (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is one of the busiest in the country. The increased air traffic has led to increased noise levels.

CBS 11 News has learned the City of Southlake is joining a national organization that works to reduce aircraft noise. The move comes as a record number of flights are over North Texas.

Southlake sits right in the path of one of DFW's runways, but noise hasn't been a big issue, in part because of the way the city was built. In the path of one busy runway lie several industrial buildings, a gas station and locations where some extra noise isn't really noticed. But over the past few months, residents said planes weren't always staying in line.

Even at the fourth busiest airport in the country, noise isn't normally a problem in the neighboring city of Southlake. Changes happened when maintenance work shifted flights onto a different runway though this fall, and winds forced planes to take off in a different direction. The move meant the occasional roar is now a bit more routine.

"It was a continuation of them [planes] over and day after day, after day," said Southlake City Councilmember Martin Schelling. "We stand to be negatively affected, both quality of life, maybe even real estate values if you change that flight pattern and those contours."

Southlake has now joined the Washington D.C. advocacy group National Organization to Insure a Sound Controlled Environment (NOISE). The lobbying group represents cities trying to find solutions to aviation noise. But councilwoman Pamela Muller, who has worked on noise issues for 25 years, told CBS 11 Southlake doesn't want a fight, just a fix.

"Maybe they have an idea we've never thought of before. Southlake's the great city it is because we've borrowed from other communities. We've learned from other communities."

In the noise compatibility office at DFW Airport officials can constantly monitor flight tracks. Because the runway pointing toward Southlake doesn't have the computer navigational aid of other runways, strong winds can push planes over residential areas.

But officials said there's no data that shows that it could become a common flight path. "I can go back five years, back ten years, the patterns remain the same," said Sandra Lancaster, with DFW Environmental Affairs. "FAA flies what's efficient, what works."

It is the FAA and pilots that control where the planes go once they're in the air.

DFW worked with the FAA and cities eight years ago to add navigational aids on the other runways. Airport officials said the runway at issue in Southlake, just isn't used often enough right now though, for similar equipment to be practical there.

Airport officials said they don't know yet if next years maintenance plan could send more planes in Southlake's direction again. They do know the runway in question is going to be shut down for maintenance at some point and there won't be anything flying on that Southlake path.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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