One of the common responses to jet plane noise complaints in Charlotte revolves around growth of traffic at the airport. No one suggests there isn’t arrivals/departures growth at Charlotte’s airport, particularly since it is a hub for American Airlines. But does the data support the hyperbole often included in airport discussion? Let’s review:
The airport produces annual traffic and activity reports with operations and passenger details. The charts below compile that data in a 10 year view 2009-2017.
Aircraft operations includes all airline carriers, air taxi, and general aviation flights. The combination of enplaned passenger and deplaned passengers (which includes people just passing through) provides total passenger transfers, the metric used for charting the volume of people.
While total passenger transfers grew 24% from 2008 through 2017, total aircraft operations are only 3% greater over the same period.
At risk of oversimplification, the disparity is due to emphasis by airlines on larger aircraft, elimination of less profitable routes, and filling more seats per flight. So while it is true there are many more passengers coming through Charlotte’s airport (although 3 out of 4 never leave the terminal), the total number of commercial aircraft has not grown as dramatically as many assume.
Could it be argued airlines viewed implementation of Nextgen technology as an opportunity to advocate for the FAA to shorten routes thus enhancing profits?
You decide. Regardless, data reported by the airport doesn't seem to suggest air traffic volume is suddenly a new problem.