Peaceful sleep will be restored to D.C. neighborhoods that have lived with the overhead thunder of rooftop-skimming jetliners since late-night runway repairs began at Reagan National Airport last spring.
Since work began on the airport’s main runway, the last eight daily flights into National have been landing on a secondary runway whose approach path took planes low over Southeast Washington. From now until the project is complete, the last scheduled plane of the night will land before work resumes.
Airport authorities, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, say that the start of construction will be moved from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., minutes after the final plane lands on the main runway. Use of the main runway allows planes to do most of their descent over the Potomac River. The work will be done between 1 and 6 a.m., when there are no flights scheduled.
The change came a week after Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) wrote to acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta seeking relief for Southeast Washington residents who complained they were being jolted awake by window-pane-rattling jets.
“I am pleased by the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s response, which will bring some much-needed relief to my constituents,” Norton said. “Flights in the late night and early morning hours have long been limited at Reagan because of the location of the airport in a densely populated urban community. We recognize that [the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority] must repair the main runway at Reagan, but there is more than one way to skin a cat — and to fix the runway while residents enjoy a night’s sleep. We are grateful for the accommodation.”
The airport handled 271,000 flights last year, or an average of about 740 a day.