Noise FAQs


How busy is the airport? How is the level of airport activity measured?

Activity levels at airports are measured by aircraft operations. An operation is defined by the FAA as a takeoff or a landing. So, a "touch and go" conducted by a training aircraft counts as two operations. In 2015, Centennial Airport accommodated 321,569 aircraft operations. That's a takeoff or landing every 80 seconds! However, most of the traffic is concentrated in the daytime hours. The record year at Centennial occurred in 1998, with over 466,000 aircraft operations. 
 

Where does Centennial Airport rank with regards to level of operational activity?

Centennial is currently ranked number two in the nation among airports that are not certified for airline service, ranked number #25 of all airports (including airports like LAX, Chicago's O'Hare, and New York's La Guardia) and Centennial is the only airport in the country to have three FBOs ranked in the top 25 of all U.S.-based FBOs. FBOs are airport-based aircraft service centers that provide provide fueling services, maintenance, concierge services, as well as crew and passenger transportation. 
 

What are the usual hours of operation?

Centennial Airport is open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and in most weather conditions. Our office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. through Fri. excluding holidays. 
 

When do most aircraft arrive at or depart Centennial?

The airport has a rush hour just like highways. The heaviest traffic volumes occur between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and again between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
 

Why do so many airplanes take off and land in the same direction?

For safety and performance factors, aircraft must arrive and depart into the wind. Centennial Airport’s primary runways are angled with the predominate wind directions of north and south. During typical fair weather days for the area around Centennial Airport, the wind direction is predominately from the south. This puts the airport in a “South Flow” configuration with aircraft arriving and departing towards the south. During inclement weather days (low clouds, high winds, precipitation, etc.), the wind direction is predominantly from the north and the airport operates in a “North Flow” configuration with aircraft arriving and departing towards the north. Approximately 55 percent of the traffic at Centennial Airport arrives and departs the airport towards the south
 

What areas experience the greatest amount of aircraft overflights?

The areas immediately north and south of the airport experience very high volumes of aircraft traffic. Roughly, 85 percent of Centennial's traffic uses the north/south runways. A number of smaller aircraft use the east/west crosswind runway as a means to keep separation from the larger jet traffic. Areas directly east of the airport are impacted by these operations.
 

Who do I call to complain about airplane noise?

The Airport Authority is charged with addressing noise complaints. You can reach our office at (303) 790-0598 Ext. 2921 and speak to Dylan Heberlein, the Noise & Environmental Specialist, or call directly into our noise complaint hotline at (303) 790-4709. When using the hotline, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

• Provide all information requested on the recording - incomplete complaints will not be considered.
• Complaints need to contain specific times - general statements like "20 airplanes between 5 and 8" will not be accepted.
• Complaints containing profanity will not be considered valid complaints.
• Complaints containing threats to aircraft will be reported to the FBI and local authorities.
• If you would like a return call, be sure to leave your name and telephone number on the recording, and the Noise & Environmental Specialist will return your call as soon as possible.
 
Noise complaints can also be filed via Web Trak. For more information, or to file a complaint via Web Trak, click HERE.
 

What noise abatement procedures are in effect?

We currently have a number of noise abatement procedures in effect. They are: 
 
• Voluntary Noise Abatement Procedures • Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Procedures
• Maintain minimum altitude of 7300' east of Parker Rd. and west of Yosemite St., unless directed otherwise by air traffic control.
• Training traffic within the Runway 17L/35R traffic pattern remain south of Arapahoe Road, and east of I-25, when able, unless directed otherwise by air traffic control.
• In addition to the above procedures, we encourage all tenants and users to follow the National Business Aircraft Association's Fly Quiet procedures.
 

Why is there airplane traffic during the middle of the night?

Centennial Airport is open 24 hours a day. We do have aircraft activity at night, mostly flights carrying light cargo or checks for the Federal Reserve. These overnight flights are a critical piece of the economy. In addition, interstate commerce laws require that the airport remain open 24/7. A large portion of our overnight flights are also air-ambulance flights transporting patients, blood, or organs to points throughout the state and country. The largest air-ambulance companies in Denver provide air-ambulance service to the entire Denver area through Centennial Airport. Law enforcement and news media also use the airport regularly at night. 
 

Is there a legal minimum altitude that airplanes can fly over residential areas?

Federal Aviation Regulations specify a minimum altitude of 1,000 feet over congested areas and 500 feet over non-congested areas. The exception to this rule are helicopters and aircraft that are in the process of taking off or landing. 
 

What can the Airport Authority do to keep airplanes from flying over my neighborhood?

In an odd "Catch 22," the Airport Authority is responsible for airport noise does not control how and where the aircraft fly. Once the wheels of the aircraft leave the pavement, the aircraft is under the control of the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control. Safety is the #1 concern and keeping maximum separation between aircraft takes precedence over noise related concerns. However, Centennial Airport works continuously with the FAA, collaborating to develop aircraft routes and procedure that help reduce aircraft noise exposure within the surrounding areas. 
 

What is considered airport noise?

Airport noise is any noise created by an aircraft taking off, landing, overflying, and taxiing on the ground.
 

Will aircraft continue to become quieter?

Modern aircraft have become much quieter over the last two decades. The largest business jet operating at Centennial is remarkably quieter than one of the smallest. Aircraft are categorized by the amount of noise they make. The loudest are called Stage I and State II, which have been banned in the United States as of Dec. 31, 2015. Stage III and Stage IV aircraft are the quietest.  Aircraft at Centennial, now, meet Stage III requirements and some, even meet Stage IV standards.
 

I’m looking to purchase a home or rent near Centennial Airport, who may I contact?

You can reach our office at (303) 790-0598 Ext. 2922 and speak to Aaron Repp, the Noise & Environmental Specialist. We are happy to discuss your concerns about aircraft noise, provide operation statistics, make available community and aircraft noise data and offer various graphics depicting aircraft flight tracks to help you make an informed decision.

Why are there military aircraft operations at Centennial Airport?

Centennial Airport is a public-use airport and due to Grant Assurances required by accepting federal funding, the airport is required to allow government owned aircraft to operate at the airport. military aircraft are not held to noise standards. Throughout the year and especially in the summer months, Centennial Airport will periodically see a variety of military aircraft operations, typically on training missions. Centennial Airport supports the military and their training requirements needed to protect the nation.