Operations Related to Noise
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
While Jefferson County owns RMMA, the FAA has control over all aircraft operations and routing.
As a recipient of Federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds, RMMA is subject to FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) sponsor assurances that prohibit the airport from restricting airport operations or discriminating against classes of airport users.
For more information about the Federal government’s exclusive sovereignty over airspace, please see Title 49, Section 40103 of the United States Code.
How many aircraft take off or land at RMMA?
- Activity levels at airports are measured by “aircraft operations,” which is defined by the FAA as a takeoff or a landing.
- The highest annual aircraft operations at RMMA occurred in 1977 with more than 248,000.
- In 2021, RMMA had 201,426 aircraft operations.
- In 2020, RMMA had 189,512 aircraft operations.
- In 2019, RMMA had 191,533 aircraft operations.
- There are over 400 based aircraft at RMMA, including four fixed-wing flight schools and one helicopter flight school.
- The number of aviation flight schools operating at regional airports generally corresponds to the demand for new pilots from the aviation industry.
Is there an operations cap at a regional airport?
- There is no specific operations cap at a public-use airport, just as there are no specific operations cap on public highways.
- The number of aircraft allowed is constrained by the available runways and airspace/air traffic control capacity.
- As more aircraft are accommodated in the traffic pattern, aircraft begin to be spaced further apart for traffic sequencing.
Are there restrictions on hours in which aircraft operations can occur?
- RMMA is a public-use airport operating 24 hours per day, seven days a week, like a public highway (i.e. US 36). Aircraft, like vehicles, are not restricted to certain operating hours.
- Aircraft operations at night are often related to FAA requirements for pilot training or nighttime currency, which is the FAA requirement to maintain pilot proficiency.
- Weather can also play a factor in aircraft operations. During summer months, higher afternoon temperatures and a greater chance for thunderstorms result in a preference for flying earlier in the morning for safety reasons. Conversely, in winter the warmest part of the day is preferable, which increases flights in the afternoon.
What is the routing/flight paths of the aircraft? Did it change recently?
- Pilots and aircraft follow specific, highly procedural flight patterns when operating into and out of RMMA that have not changed for at least 20 years.
- At RMMA, arrivals, departures and traffic pattern operations are dictated by a FAA Air Traffic Control Tower and national procedures. The standard traffic pattern involves a takeoff, upwind, crosswind, downwind, final and landing.
- These procedures are standardized globally for improved safety and traffic flow. The runway in use is chosen by air traffic control based on existing wind conditions.
- No, the FAA has not changed flight paths recently. However, the COVID-19 pandemic means more people are at home during the day than normal.
What noise standards apply to operations at the airport?
- RMMA has no FAA-recognized noise deficiencies and has no outstanding requirements to further mitigate airport and aircraft noise.
- Aviation noise levels are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Airports may work collaboratively with surrounding jurisdictions to address noise impacts through Airport Noise Compatibility Planning or a Part 150 Study. Jefferson County's Environs Land Use Plan sets recommendations for appropriate land uses in the vicinity of RMMA.
If you have been affected by Rocky Mountain Metro Airport noise, you may file a noise complaint by completing our Noise Complaint Form or call the noise complaint line at 303-271-4874.
You may also want to review the FAA’s page on regional aircraft noise.