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Noisy new Haneda flight patterns cause headaches for residents

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Between the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., about 44 flights per hour make low-level approaches to Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. While descending over Shinagawa Ward, their elevation drops below 300 meters, actually lower than the 332.9-meter height of Tokyo Tower.

"With every noise increase of 3 decibels, the amount felt by the human body is doubled (according to testimony to the Diet), and it's safe to say the volume might even be twice that level," says Hideaki Kuroda, a member of the "Haneda Problem Lawsuit Group."

Kuroda's organization of residents has initiated a legal action over the noise the low-flying planes are generating, reports Spa (Sept 8-15).

Another group member, residing in Shibuya Ward, tells the magazine, "I live on the 5th floor, but the planes are fairly loud even with the windows shut. My grandson, who's in high school, says he's been having difficulty concentrating on his studies since the new route opened.

The new route, which was initiated from the end of March, is said to be particularly disruptive to the teleworkers who have been staying home due to the pandemic.

"My apartment building is directly beneath the flight path, and planes fly just above it," a salaryman in his 30s remarks. "We're on the 18th floor, so the distance from the aircraft to the building is about 300 meters. I've been teleworking from home and on days with a southward wind, the rumbling noise emitted by the planes is really bad."

Nor is noise the sole complaint.

"In August 2014, a slab of ice dropped off the body of a passenger jet and tore through the roof of a factory," said Kuroda. "If it had fallen on a residence, it may have caused injuries or deaths.

"What's more, it is well known that the descent angle for the approach on the new route, 3.8 degrees, is sharper than at other world airports. This makes it more susceptible to human error during the so-called 'critical 11 minutes' (which are three minutes for takeoffs and eight minutes for landings). On the three-minute takeoff for instance, jets pass directly over a petrochemical plant in neighboring Kawasaki. If a hot fragment were to drop into it from a plane, or if the entire plane were to crash, it might start a conflagration that would be nearly impossible for human firefighters to extinguish."

Aside from safety, owners are concerned over the noise's effect on property values. "There are various reasons why real estate prices fluctuate, and there's no simple way to calculate their value," says Shuji Takeuchi, an analyst of residential properties. "For example in 1994, the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. issued a report that said the value of homes in the vicinity of Los Angeles International Airport that were affected by noise fell in value by 1.3%.

"From around 2013, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, by pooling income from landing fees and tax revenues on jet fuel into a special fund for airport maintenance facilities, was able to stashed away about a trillion yen," says a knowledgeable reporter. "It's believed that before the ministry lost control over use of the funds at its own discretion it used them for expansion projects at Haneda Airport. Among the beneficiaries were amakudari (retiring bureaucrats who were placed in lucrative second careers)."

Spa posed its query about the new route to a ministry staff member, who replied in typically vague fashion, "The new route hasn't yet been finalized. During the remainder of the current fiscal year we will examine the merits and demerits and consider how to deal with it."

"Actually," says Kuroda, "from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., the flights to Haneda fly a counter-clockwise pattern from the Futtsu promontory in Chiba to Tokyo Bay. If they were to simply do this during daytime hours, there'd be no need for the new route, and the noise problem would be resolved."

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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I understand this new route was to accommodate more flights arriving in Tokyo for the Olympics. With less planes flying the new approach route doesn't seem to be needed now.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Aah, welcome to Kadena and Futenma!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

With every noise increase of 3 decibels, the amount felt by the human body is doubled (according to testimony to the Diet), and it's safe to say the volume might even be twice that level," says Hideaki Kuroda, a member of the "Haneda Problem Lawsuit Group.

+3dB is double, it's the way its calculated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Now Tokyoites might have an inkling of compassion for Okinawans. It is LOUD there.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I sit on my balcony and watch the planes come in around sunset time on clear days with a cold beer in hand.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Lots of people live right next to Heathrow Airport. People lived under the flight path near Kai Tak, the previous HK airport. And I'm sure there are many many other cities where people live near airports. People get used to it. I really am surprised. This is a country which is full of noise pollution, be it in the supermarket, pachinko parlour, or out in the street where we have to put up with bikers, politicians and right-wing trucks blaring out noise.

I used to live very close to an airport. I could walk to the airport within 30 minutes. As I said, you get used to it. And no, our home didn't drop in value.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

People near Heathrow are not used to it. In fact they have a very vocal community group trying to prevent the third runway and any changes to current flight hours. Heathrow is closed at night so local residents can at least get some sleep. Same with City airport in London, no night flights, lots of local opposition.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

That is terrible. In my neighborhood they just started construction of a parking lot nearby and terrible noise. That is one reason I like to rent, I can move if necessary. Imagine buying a house under a new flight path and not being able to sell it but being saddled with a 50 million yen non-recourse loan. Hell on earth.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Perhaps we should return to the 19th century when our sleep was only interrupted by the clip-clop of iron-shod hoofs on cobblestone and the occasional gaseous expulsions of equines who had over-consumed oats and rice-bran.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Some people’s medicine is other people’s poison.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Those pesky planes are almost as loud as a pachinko parlor, uyoku dantai trucks or girls screaming kawaiiiiiii...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

 Imagine buying a house under a new flight path and not being able to sell it but being saddled with a 50 million yen non-recourse loan. Hell on earth.

anybody that doesn't do their home work before buying new home deserves what they get

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

If the residences were built and sold before the new air route was implemented, then, IMO, those beneath the flight path should be given the option of being given their money back by whoever is responsible for causing their injuries. It is only fair.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Now Tokyoites might have an inkling of compassion for Okinawans. It is LOUD there." I can suggest a way to solve a number of the noise problems on Okinawa...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They should pay for soundproofing of homes with noise at a certain decibel level. We probably wouldn't qualify, living too far away, but even inside our well insulated home with double pane windows closed, we can hear them fly overhead. It is right at a point in the path where the planes make a grumbling metal scraping change to their flaps. Every 2 minutes or less, grumble, scrap, thunk, buzzz... I can't imagine what folks closer in are hearing.

I usually look forward to Fall and Spring when I don't have to use the AC/heater and can have the windows open, but this year I dread it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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