FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Why do planes fly over my house?

The airspace over the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is very congested, with over a dozen airports close to each other. The FAA establishes air traffic patterns throughout the metroplex, to safely separate aircraft, both horizontally and vertically. Aircraft flying over the community may often be associated with DFW (one of the busiest airports in the country), but could also be flying to or from, Dallas Love Field or one of the numerous smaller general aviation-focused airports. Military jet and turboprop aircraft are also very prevalent in the sky above the metroplex in association with Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. Also Bell, with its headquarters and primary manufacturing and assembly plant located in Fort Worth, test flies dozens of new civilian and military helicopters daily.

Why was I woken up last night by aircraft noise; what's going on at the Airport?

Like most commercial airports in the U.S., Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) operates 24 hours per day 365 days per year. There is no night-time curfew at DFW and flight activity during overnight hours can be heavy at times due to cargo airlines which tend to fly during this time when passenger airlines are less active. Understanding the disturbing nature of night-time operations to the community DFW works closely with the FAA to influence how the airport is operated during these hours to help minimize the disruption to residents living around the airport and whenever possible utilize noise-sensitive flight paths.

Why are planes flying over this area, we're not under a flight path?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control (ATC), not DFW has sole authority and responsibility for routing and separating air traffic across the national airspace system.  ATC's priority is the safe and efficient movement of aircraft through the sky above the United States.  Because DFW is part of a much larger and complex airspace system movements of aircraft within the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex must be carefully coordinated with other control areas to ensure the safe flow of all planes, this can occasionally result in aircraft being required to deviate from established flight paths to ensure the safety of all airplanes operating in the sky.

What are the guidelines for filing a noise complaint?

DFW complaint submission guidelines currently allow for the submission of one noise complaint per occurrence.  Multiple disturbances or a range of times on a single submission will not be considered as multiple submissions.  To be recorded, each submission must include the following mandatory information:  Name, address, email address, phone number, date/time of disturbance, and a detailed description of the disturbance.  Use of obscene language and threats against the airport and or staff will result in rejection of the complaint and possible legal action against the submitter.

How does weather impact aircraft noise?

Weather conditions affect the transmission of aircraft noise in several ways.  First, on hot spring and summer days, especially those over 100 degrees, aircraft climb more slowly placing them closer to communities under the flight paths.  Secondly, when skies are very cloudy, and the clouds are low to the ground, the noise from aircraft can rebound off the clouds and back to earth, making planes seem louder.  Lastly, on very windy days sound can travel much further downwind, resulting in aircraft noise carrying farther than usual.

Can the operator of a loud aircraft be fined?

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport doesn't have the legal authority to levy a fine or otherwise penalize any aircraft operator for the amount of noise their aircraft make.  Only airports in the United States that had noise-based operating fines in place before the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) was enacted in 1990 are allowed to extract financial penalties from operators based on airplanes exceeding specific noise thresholds at their airport.

What causes planes to take off in the direction of my home?

For safety reasons aircraft always land and take off into the wind.  A headwind decreases the amount of runway needed for an airplane to take off and land by increasing the amount of airflow over the wing, which increases lift, allowing the plane to land or take off at a slower airspeed.  As a general rule, when the wind speed at the airport is measured to be six knots or higher, the prevailing direction of the wind dictates which runways are used for landing and takeoff.

What are the criteria used by the FAA to evaluate an application for a curfew?

In 1990 in response to a proliferation of "uncoordinated and inconsistent" noise and access restrictions at airports, Congress enacted the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA). Airports with existing curfew programs before the legislation's enactment were allowed to continue these programs in perpetuity. To provide a formal path for all other airports that wished to enact future noise and access restrictions, ANCA established the Part 161 "Notice and Approval of Airport Noise and Access Restrictions process. The Part 161 process requires the airport to submit documentation to the FAA that establishes that the proposed noise and access restriction satisfies all six of the following criteria for consideration:

What is quieter - an arrival or departure?

Generally speaking, airplanes are louder during landing than takeoff. The difference can be especially noticeable with commercial jet aircraft when comparing the same aircraft type in the takeoff and landing phase of flight.  Landing aircraft usually overfly the community at lower altitudes as they line up with the runway and prepare to touchdown, bringing them closer to residents on the ground. Configuring the plane for landing requires the pilot to lower the landing gear and wing flaps which enables the airplane to slow down and the wings to generate greater lift. However, the noise generated by the turbulent airflow over the landing gear and flaps also creates substantial noise that can equal or exceed that produced by the jet engines.  The turbulent airflow also increases the drag on the airplane requiring the pilot to increase engine power to maintain a safe descent path to the runway, which also increases noise. 

Will filing a noise complaint change how the airport operates

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the sole authority to determine where aircraft fly and how Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is operated.  The FAA operates DFW's runways and controls the associated airspace to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the skies around DFW.  Noise complaints are not considered when Air Traffic Control (ATC) makes decisions about how to manage the airspace above the metroplex.  However, DFW continuously engages with the FAA and works to ensure that noise concerns are considered when the FAA considers modifying or introducing new flight procedures.

Who tells pilots where and when to turn?

Commercial pilots flying under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) file a flight plan and follow a particular route from takeoff to landing.  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control (ATC) guide aircraft along their route, and provide precise instructions on the altitude, heading, and airspeed a pilot should fly their plane.  When an airplane departs from or arrives at DFW, only the FAA can direct an aircraft to turn off its filed course.  When controllers turn an aircraft and deviate it from its planned path, it is in response to an operational requirement such as maintaining minimum spacing between aircraft, weather in the intended path of the airplane or other operational factors.  DFW Airport is responsible for operating and maintaining airport facilities and for ensuring the vast network of runway and taxiways are in good working condition, meet FAA regulations, and are available for use.  However, the airport does not have the authority to control air traffic on the ground or in the air.