Noise Compatibility/Environmental Programs
The Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RTIA) is operated 24/7, 365 days of the year. As such, aircraft arrive and depart RTIA at various times throughout the day, without restrictions or nighttime curfews.
This being said, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA) has a long history of working with the surrounding communities in addressing airport noise issues. In 1979, the RTAA completed its first comprehensive noise study for the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RTIA) which is referred to as the Airport Noise Control and Land Use Compatibility (ANCLUC) Study. Following this effort, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) created the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 150 Noise Compatibility program in 1984. Participation on the part of airports in the FAR Part 150 program is voluntary and for those that do participate additional funding is made available. Because of the RTIA's in-town location and the availability of additional funding to benefit the communities, the RTAA initiated its first FAR Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study in 1989 and it was approved by the FAA in 1991. An update to the FAR Part 150 study was initiated in 2000. The final study was approved by the FAA in 2004.
The FAR Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study provides both operational and land use recommendations for reducing or eliminating noise impacts around Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The following documents are excerpts from the most recent FAR Part 150 Study and provide an overview of the Noise Exposure Maps and the recommendations to manage the noise impacts at Reno-Tahoe International.
To view these reference pages from the updated FAR Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study, use the following links:
- Chapter 4 – Noise Impacts
- Chapter 5 – Noise Abatement Alternatives
- Exhibit 4C – 2000 Aircraft Noise Exposure with Land Use
- Exhibit 4D – 2005 Aircraft Noise Exposure with Land Use
- Exhibit 4E – 2010 Aircraft Noise Exposure with Land Use
- Exhibit 5G – Evaluate Preferential Runway Use for Noise Abatement
The following documents provide additional information regarding runway utilization and airport access restrictions:
- To view the Runway Utilization Discussion Paper Click Here.
- To view the Airport Access Restrictions Discussion Paper, Click Here.
- To view the Airport Access Restrictions reference pages from the updated FAR Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study, Click Here.
Preferential Runway Use and Aircraft Overflights
Built in 1929, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RTIA) is situated at an elevation of 4,415 feet and located in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain.
Due to the geography of the area, everyone in the valley is subject to aircraft overflights. However, there are neighborhoods which will experience more aircraft overflights and potentially more aircraft noise than others. This is especially true for those who live under primary aircraft arrival and departure paths.
Runway Utilization: Presently, there are three runways at RTIA. The two, main parallel runways, generally aligned in a north-south orientation, are designated as Runways 16L/34R and 16R/34L*. There is also a crosswind runway, aligned in an east-west orientation, designated as Runway 07/25. When the airport operates in a north flow pattern, arriving and departing traffic use Runways 34L and 34R. When a south flow pattern is used, arriving and departing traffic use Runways 16R and 16L.
RTIA utilizes an informal preferential runway use program that designates Runway 16R as the primary departure runway during calm and southerly wind conditions. Historically, based on an annual average, this has meant that aircraft operating out of RTIA arrive and depart in a south flow configuration approximately 80% of the time and in a north flow configuration approximately 20% of the time. Runways 07/25, the east-west runways, usually account for less than 2% of the operations. They are typically used by General Aviation (GA) aircraft but, on rare occasion, are used by the larger, commercial aircraft.
Runway utilization affects the community perception of noise. Understandably, even the smallest changes in a given flight path may have an effect on the community because the operations are perceived as “different”. Although the goal is to keep arrival and departure flows as consistent and predictable as possible, aircraft performance is affected by wind direction and speed, two factors which are constantly changing. There are seasonal fluctuations, with wind patterns lasting for several weeks. However, it is not uncommon to have wind direction fluctuate several times in one day. When this happens, keeping arrival and departure flows consistent becomes more challenging, as it is best for aircraft to take off into the wind. Factors such as winds aloft, weather conditions (existing and forecasted), visibility and runway and/or taxi closures can influence runway usage. These factors, always with a safety-first focus from the pilot-in-command, will ultimately dictate where and how aircraft fly.
Aircraft Overflights: Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airlines are currently modernizing their equipment and moving toward a greater usage of satellite based procedures**, aircraft, for the most part, are presently following set Departure Procedures (DPs), Instrument Approach Procedures (IAPs) and Standard Instrument Arrival Routes (STARs) when coming and going from airports. This includes the RTIA.
The initial segments of DPs and the final segment of IAPs are generally designed to put an aircraft in a straight path initially out of an airport on departure and into an airport on arrival. DPs are designed to facilitate the movement out of the airport area into the appropriate aircraft routes and separate them from arrivals, with minimal communication between the pilot and air traffic controller. STARs are designed to bring the aircraft into the airport area, generally to a point five (5) to ten (10) miles straight out from the appropriate runway. IAPs are designed to bring an aircraft to the airport in level flight at a constant rate of descent.
As previously mentioned, everyone in the valley is subject to aircraft overflights. However, the above mentioned Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures result in some having more exposure than others. To view a snap-shot in time and gain a better understanding of flight tracks in the vicinity of RTIA, please click on the links below:
Figure 1: 2013 South Flow Flight Tracks of Predominant Aircraft and Figure 2: 2013 North Flow Flight Tracks of Predominant Aircraft show a sample day’s flight tracks for just the predominant aircraft in both north and south flow. Figure 3: 2013 South Flow Flight Tracks of All Aircraft and Figure 4: 2013 North Flow Flight Tracks of All Aircraft utilize the same sample day's flight tracks for north and south flow while showing all operations for the respective days. These days were the busiest north and south flow days of the year.
* In runway nomenclature “L” equals left and “R” equals right.
** It should be noted that these NextGen satellite landing procedures allow pilots to arrive at airports more predictably and more efficiently. This predictability means more concentration of flight tracks farther out from the airport than in years past. However, these concentrations of flight tracks have not negatively impacted the existing noise contour at RTIA.
To register a noise complaint, please either email the airport at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Noise Complaint Hotline at 775-328-6468. The Hotline is available 24 hours a day to record complaints. It is also now possible to register noise complaints online using the WebTrak feature of the RTAA's new Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System (ANOMS). To register a noise complaint online Click Here. All recorded noise complaints are stored in a database and reported to the Airport Noise Advisory Panel on a quarterly basis.
Airport Noise & Operations Monitoring System
Thanks to a new Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System (ANOMS), the community is able to access near real-time flight tracking data and report noise complaints on-line. The ANOMS automatically matches noise complaints with aircraft operations and noise events.
In 2004, the airport accepted a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant in the amount of $1,875,000 for the installation of the new Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System (ANOMS), which became available to the public on March 23, 2010.
The new ANOMS collects extensive information on aircraft operations including aircraft type, flight tracks, runway use, approach and departure profiles, and activity levels. In addition, the ANOMS includes fourteen noise monitors permanently placed in locations throughout the valley which will collect long-term noise data in the communities surrounding the airport. Portable noise monitors can supplement the fixed monitors and provide backup for maintenance.
For more information about the Airport Authority's Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System, please contact Rick Miller, Airport Noise Analyst, at email@example.com.
Residential Sound Insulation Program
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority is committed to being a good neighbor to the surrounding community. The residential sound insulation program, completed in 2014, is an outstanding example of the airport’s efforts to blend its operations with the community while maintaining a high quality of life for the airport’s neighbors.
At the program's inception, in 1995, there were over 5,400 residential units north and south of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport eligible for the program. At the program's conclusion, over 5,100 (95%) of these units, with interested homeowners, had received noise mitigation construction improvements (primarily the replacement of existing windows and doors with acoustically rated products). Over $68 million was invested in insulating homes within the eligible area, with an average design and construction cost per home of $15,000. There was no cost to the home owner.
The Airport Authority had been receiving Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the purpose of sound insulating homes in communities neighboring Reno-Tahoe International Airport each year dating back to 1994. The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority was eligible to receive these funds because of the Airport Authority’s participation in the voluntary Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 150 Noise Compatibility Program that identified specific areas of noise exposure to homes located primarily to the north and south of the airport in Sparks, Reno, and unincorporated Washoe County.
To be eligible for the residential sound insulation program, the home must have been:
- built (Certificate of Occupancy of Final Inspection) prior to October 1, 1998,
- used for residential purposes,
- a permanent structure (not a mobile home),
- within the FAA-approved 65 decibel (dB) DNL (Day Night Average Level) Noise Exposure area (based on an annual average, e.g. 365 days a year, 24 hours a day) as identified in the Part 150 program, and
- experiencing interior noise levels greater than 45 dB in the habitable rooms with the windows closed.
Commercial properties and residences which had been converted to commercial use were not eligible.
For those persons interested in sound insulating their own home, the Airport Authority provides a "Residential Noise Mitigation Best Practices" guide which can be accessed by clicking on the link below.
Residential Noise Mitigation Best Practices Guide
Questions regarding the Airport Authority’s residential sound insulation program should be directed to Dan Bartholomew, Manager of Planning/GIS, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Airport Noise Advisory Panel
The Airport Noise Advisory Panel (ANAP), has been meeting regularly since January 1981 in order to assist the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority Board of Trustees in dealing with issues relating to airport noise. ANAP and its By-Laws were formally established by the Board of Trustees by Resolution No. 110 on June 28, 1984.
The purpose of ANAP is to:
- Receive and assess information on airport noise issues
- Assist in coordination between noise sensitive, off airport land use activities and noise generating airport activities
- Promote greater communication regarding airport noise among the various public bodies, agencies, and commissions
- Make advisory recommendations to the Airport Authority Board of Trustees regarding new and existing programs and approaches to noise abatement
ANAP consists of 25 members; each member’s initial term is two years in length and each may be reappointed for additional two-year terms. ANAP is led by citizen representatives that are appointed by their individual governing bodies. No more than one representative from each of these three jurisdictions shall have affiliation with the government entity through employment or elective office.
Current ANAP representation:
City of Reno
|Citizen Representative||Glen Graves|
|City of Reno Community Development||Nathan Gilbert|
City of Sparks
|Citizen Representative||George Graham|
|Citizen Representative||David Shocket|
|City of Sparks Community Development||Jim Rundle|
County of Washoe
|Citizen Representative||Allayne Donnelly-Everett|
|Citizen Representative||Yvonne Murphy|
|County Department of Comprehensive Planning||Chad Giesinger|
|Airline Representative||Capt. Jon Proehl|
|Air Cargo Carrier||Vacant|
|Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada||Frank Lepori|
|FAA Air Traffic Control||David Ellsworth/Karl Scribner|
|FAA Flight Standards Office||Lee Oscar|
|Fixed Base Operator Representative||Patrick Wink|
|General Aviation Pilots/Users||Vacant|
|The Chamber (Reno-Sparks-Northern Nevada)||Lisa Ruggerio|
|Nevada Air National Guard||Captain Erik Brown|
|RTAA Board of Trustees||Jenifer Rose, Chair|
|RTAA Board of Trustees||Jessica Sferrazza,
|Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority||Brian Rivers|
|Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency||Vacant|
Meetings are held quarterly in March, June, September and December. The 2016 meetings are scheduled for:
- Monday, March 21, 3:30 PM
- Monday, June 20, 3:30 PM
- Monday, September 19, 3:30 PM (CANCELLED)
- Monday, December 5, 3:30 PM
The agenda, and quarterly noise complaints, will be posted three (3) days prior to the meeting. Draft meeting minutes are posted ten (10) days after the meeting date. Final minutes are posted following approval by the Panel.
If you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive a hard copy of the agenda for ANAP meetings or have questions about ANAP, please contact Dan Bartholomew, Manager of Planning/GIS, at email@example.com.
ANAP members can be contacted care of:
Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority
P.O. Box 12490
Reno, Nevada 89510-2490
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA) is committed to building and operating sustainable aviation facilities that protect the natural environment to the maximum extent feasible. The RTAA's environmental programs seek to continually improve environmental practices, by encouraging environmental stewardship at all levels within the organization.
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority has established an in-house environmental committee with participation from all departments to help encourage environmental awareness, increase recycling efforts, and promote pollution, waste and energy reductions at Reno-Tahoe International and Reno-Stead Airports.
Environmental Management System
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority believes that a healthy natural environment plays a crucial role in the strength of our economy and our quality of life, and is essential for the sustainability of the aviation industry. The RTAA Board of Trustees has passed a resolution highlighting the airport's commitment to the environment and since 2008, an Environmental Management System (EMS) has been incorporated into the RTAA's daily practices. Some of the successful components of the EMS include a terminal wide recycling program at Reno-Tahoe International Airport which annually diverts approximately 81 tons of recyclables from the local landfills, equating to more than 10 percent of the airport waste stream and an asphalt/concrete deconstruction and re-use program for construction projects, resulting in a 100 percent re-use of demolished pavement. An office supply reduction and green purchasing policy reduces overall paper usage by 10 percent and ensures the purchase of products containing higher recycled content.
Energy Conservation in Action
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA) is committed to improving and investing in more energy efficient facilities to reduce overall energy consumption.
Using the EMS approach, the RTAA has also implemented projects that have resulted in substantial energy savings. This includes energy efficient lighting retrofits, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades and installation of alternative energy generation. Energy efficient lighting airfield and passenger facility projects involving replacement of existing lighting fixtures to light-emitting diode (LED) have resulted in an annual energy cost savings of approximately $252,000. HVAC projects have also resulted in considerable energy cost savings as well as operating and maintenance reductions of approximately $200,000 annually. Lastly, a 135kW solar photovoltaic system at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Facility (ARFF) reduces the annual purchased electricity usage by approximately 260,000 kWh and reduces the annual electrical utility cost by approximately $30,000.
In an effort to continually improve, the RTAA is currently investigating the viability of more energy efficient upgrades to the lighting and mechanical systems in the passenger terminal building. In addition, the RTAA is working on a number of different ways to generate and utilize renewable (geothermal and additional solar) sources of energy to offset existing supply needs.
Stead Solvent Site
Another great example of the RTAA's proactive environmental initiatives is how the RTAA is dealing with what is known as the Stead Solvent Site. In cooperation with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), the remediation activities and environmental clean up of the Stead Solvent Site utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to remove contamination from the groundwater and soil. RTAA is leading this multi-party effort which includes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lear Entities, and the City of Reno. Groundwater pumping is also used to control and prevent migration of the contamination. The process will take time but progress is being made. The treatment system has been operating since March 2005 and approximately $5.1 million is committed to the clean up effort.
In addition to the pump system, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority is also employing a natural remediation technique by planting numerous trees in the affected area. These trees act as a natural filtration system, drawing out contaminated groundwater.
The RTAA received national attention for its remediation efforts on this project as the recipient of the 2009 Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA) Environmental Achievement - Mitigation award.
For more information, go to NDEP’s website at ndep.nv.gov/bca/stead05.htm.