BWI Air Traffic Patterns Shifted Over Catonsville

Runway work, ongoing since June, culminates in 60-day closure that started Aug. 20.

If you've noticed an increase in air traffic overhead in Catonsville in the past week, it's because of a shift in runways at BWI Airport.

One of the two major thoroughfares for commercial planes at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) was closed on Monday, Aug. 20 and will be closed for 60 days. The runway is closed for reconstructive work around the runway, according to a statement from the airport.

With Runway 10-28 closed, air traffic patterns may change, said Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for BWI. He said Elkridge and Catonsville were in the area impacted by the shift.

“In the northwest regions, like Elkridge and Catonsville, residents in those communities will see an increase in operations compared to usual conditions,” said Dean.

According to Dean, 70 percent of traffic will be going over Elkridge and communities northwest such as Catonsville of the airport during the runway closure.

Since 2011, the airport has been working to bring the runways into compliance with federal safety regulations it must meet by 2015, according to a statement from BWI.

Specifically, the work includes reconstruction of runways, taxiways, deicing pads and hold pad pavement; airfield navigational aid installation, relocation and upgrades; and other runway safety improvements, according to the statement.

Work began on Runway 10-28 in June, including installing new lighting in the pavement. During that time, the while the runway was closed on nights and weekends.

Dean of BWI said that the planes do not change the elevation at which they fly; it is just the route that will change. 

If you'd like to file a noise complaint, make note of the date, time and location, then call BWI's noise hotline at 410-859-7021.

KG August 26, 2012 at 07:27 PM
@Michelle I read the article the same way at first. It says the 20th so this article seems about a week late in getting out (maybe with the train accident).
DN August 26, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Planes will also change landing patterns according to weather/wind. We can almost always tell when rain or storms are moving in when the planes start landing over our house. Planes flying over is really nothing new, it will just be more frequent for a while. No biggie for us, that flight path has been there a lot longer than we've been here so it's not like it's a news flash or anything that we live about 8 miles from a major airport. Complaining about plane noise here is like moving onto Rolling Road and then complaining about too much traffic.
Penny Riordan August 26, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Yes, sorry, all, it has been in the past week. This story first appeared in the Elkridge Patch last Sunday, but we didn't pick it up in Catonsville until today. The runway has been closed since August 20. I noticed a bunch of planes myself as I was at the Giant on Route 40 today!
VicksieDo August 26, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I live on Rolling Road, so noise is a constant anyway. It was actually disconcerting when the noise quit, like after the derecho and during the blizzard.
Paul R August 27, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Going a little off topic here I know, but I grew up in Linthicum, and you would be amazed at how quiet it is compared to Elkridge and Catonsville. You do hear some occasional noise from planes moving around on the ground, but Linthicum gets essentially zero overflights because it isn't in the flight path of either of BWI's two commercial runways. I can probably count on one hand the number of low flying jets I saw in Linthicum in 20+ years living there. Back on topic, Catonsville should see a break in the planes starting Tuesday when the winds shift back around to the northwest.
Penny Riordan August 27, 2012 at 03:11 PM
The noise from airplanes in Catonsville was addressed before in a letter to the editor that you can see here: http://catonsville.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-are-airplanes-too-loud-in-catonsville
Denise Pohlhaus August 27, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Well, I for one am very distressed over the flight pattern change. To subject the residents of a usually quite and peaceful neighborhood to LOW flying planes that start at 7:00 AM and don't stop until 11:30 PM every 2 minutes is totally unfair !! Not only the noise, but the vibration because they are so close! Yes, planes do fly over during wind shifts (expansion of the airport has caused more planes over Catonsville), but this is excessive and unfair to subject us to this for 60 days straight!! Plus, who will want to save energy during Sept or Oct by opening windows if that is all you can hear? Noise line number 410-859-7021.
Paul R August 28, 2012 at 12:08 AM
@Denise, if it's any consolation, this kind of runway work at BWI is extremely rare. The runways were last repaved 25 years ago, in 1987. Also, be happy you don't get noise from takeoffs like we do here in Elkridge -- trust me, they're *much* louder taking off than landing.. I'm actually happy they're doing it all over a 60 day period, as it gets it over with as fast as possible. If you can fault them for anything, it's that they really do a lousy job keeping surrounding communities informed of their work schedule and what to expect. BWI is a great airport that does many things well, but that's not one of them.
Denise Pohlhaus August 29, 2012 at 06:25 PM
@Paul R-Thanks! Your words do give me consolation and although the day I wrote my comment I was working from home and couldn't get over the noise all day, it recently has quieted down. Your earlier comment that we would get a break on Tuesday was on point! Just blowing off some steam...have a good day Paul.
Elise September 06, 2012 at 03:52 AM
As I'm leaving this post, it is now almost nearing midnight and I have been hearing at least 1 plane go over the house per minute. LIke everyone else' post, my husband and i were wondering why the airplane traffic has suddenly increased as of late in our Catonsville community. The planes fly so low that the noice is certainly disconcerting and unbelievably irritating. My toddler son has woken up 4 times already since he went to sleep around 8pm today as a result of the noise! This is really getting to be ridiculous and starting to affect our quality of life. I know that this is supposed to be temporary and the change in traffic pattern can't happen soon enough! Ugh!
Rhiannon September 22, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Could we assume that if we don't call the complaint line regularly they may feel the need to make this their default traffic pattern? It is getting so much worse and I agree with Elise on the increase in activity. We are seeing a plane pass over (low pass over) about every 1 minute. It honestly freaks me out a little as well. The noise is terrible. I would seriously think about moving if this became a normal pattern. Might not be a successful sell as no one would want to move into the path of runway traffic (arriving flights it seems). However, the low flights and their proximity to Catonsville houses freaks me out with the idea that if one crashed, etc we would be in this destructive path. I really hope they resolve this soonest (especially before the holidays). I just miss the peacefulness of Catonsville and feel like I live in Glen Burnie now.
Rhiannon September 22, 2012 at 12:13 PM
OMG! I didn't even think about how terrible the takeoffs would be. I'm so sorry for you guys. We have friends in Glen Burnie who are use to this because their area has always been in the path of BWI takeoffs and landings. They moved there knowing this....huge yard, private, etc. Everything they wanted....so they just accepted the BWI traffic. I am just not used to how obnoxiously loud it is. Just a bit crazy.
Paul R September 22, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I wouldn't worry about them changing the default traffic pattern. Normally, they have two runways in use at all times, and they will use one for takeoffs and the other for landings. Right now, with the east/west runway closed for repaving, they're using the other one (which runs northwest/southeast) for everything. The east/west runway is scheduled to reopen around Oct 20, and things should go back to normal then, with traffic to the west of the airport going over Columbia and Hanover rather than Catonsville and Elkridge. One month of this down, one more to go. :-) Incidentally, if you follow the airport on Facebook or Twitter, they occasionally post updates and pictures of the work in progress.
Paul R September 22, 2012 at 08:22 PM
@Rhiannon, I know what you mean about not being used to it. When it's noisy in Catonsville, it's quiet here where we live, and vice-versa. So similar to you we will have a few days of quiet, followed by a few days of noise, and so on. I almost wish it would just be consistently noisy all the time.. then eventually we'd all get used to it and learn to tune it out!
Andrea October 18, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I am counting down the days...three left?...until the newly repaved runway reopens? I hear the contractor will be sanctioned if the 60day schedule is not done on time. I have totally had it with the noise!!! Hopefully anyone who has any info on any specifics...please post!!!
Paul R October 18, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Bad news.. we're going to be dealing with this for another couple of weeks. I emailed the MAA noise office earlier this week asking about the status of the work. Apparently the runway is now scheduled to reopen on Nov 1 at 5:00pm (was originally Oct 20 at 7:00am), barring any further delays. After that, they said to expect "sporadic" late night and weekend closures for the rest of the year to wrap up the work. I'm not sure what caused the delay, but construction being what it is, I wasn't shocked to hear it. It *would* shock me if this thing wasn't completely wrapped up by Thanksgiving. The last thing they would want is to go into the busiest travel week of the year with only one runway open. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I'm going to go repost this comment on Elkridge Patch too, for anyone still following that article.
chsmm1 October 18, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Thanks Paul for the update..I was just wondering yesterday when this fight pattern would change...
Lynda October 19, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I also have had it.....no peace or sleep half the time. I also have been counting the days.
Jan J. Brice October 25, 2012 at 11:18 PM
We're very disappointed to hear that BWI's runway work is predicted to continue into November. We've been tolerating late night and daytime airplane noise for two months now, and so looked forward to autumn's cooler temps and open windows; an ordinarily welcome experience. As of today (10/24/12 at 17:00), I can report at least 10 noisy aircraft passing overhead within an eleven minute period at my home in rural Granite/Windsor Mill. The noise has been tolerable but disconcerting. Both my husband and myself grew up in Glen Burnie Park having to "tolerate" the disruptive engine noise, intrusive airplane lights, and house vibrations associated with near constant take off/landing patterns of aircraft flying into and out of Friendship/BWI airport. You can only imagine the impact imposed on the quality of life in Glen Burnie (frustrating interruptions to TV viewing, family conversations, telephone conversations, and school lessons). Ah, but I digress. Having sustained life in the 60's amidst heavy air traffic noise, it is my fervent hope that 1) BWI's airport authorities are being forthright with regard to time frame predictions for runway work and 2) the current flight pattern changes are indeed TEMPORARY. In our rural area, while having grown accustomed to the occasional noise/vibration associated with Medivac helicopter flights, we DO NOT however wish to live amidst the continued din of commercial aircraft noise.
Joe October 25, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I can't believe I have not read any positive things about this. I live on a flight path and we made it a family game/contest/quality time issue when possible. When more than 1 of us was out and we heard a jet coming we decided to identify the carrier, the make and model of plane and for the grand prize the flight number. All available information and like looking for Waldo. One person, is now able to identify the make and model of jet and many more than any quickly the carrier. There is a pot of gold at the end of the contest and the grownups are losing.
Robert October 26, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I agree, Joe. The planes fly directly over my house (we are right on the approach line), and I think it's great! I was worried a bit about potential problems with selling my house, since I realize not everyone likes planes overhead as much as I do, but since it's temporary, I guess that's not a worry. The noise seems negligible to me, and I really enjoy watching the different planes. I'm always on the lookout for the British Airways plane - the only really large plane to regularly fly into BWI (as far as I know).
Jan J. Brice October 26, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I try to be an "optimist" - or at least try to view situations from both sides, however this time I see no direct benefit from this situation other than to relate the possibility of perhaps flying to/from BWI's remodeled runways in the near future. From our residential vantage point (22+- miles north) from the airport, the planes are too high to "identify"... and unfortunately, too noisy to ignore. I suppose if I had the time, inclination, or closer proximity to the runways, I could indeed watch in wonder at these majestic engineering wonders, however since I spent all of my childhood years doing this, at this point in my life, watching airplanes seems to have lost it's "magic".
Paul R October 26, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Just to warn people in advance.. if we get lots of bad weather over the next several days as predicted, it's almost certainly going to delay this work further into November. @Jan, I don't think there's a deliberate lack of forthrightness on the part of the MAA. I do think they were overly optimistic in projecting how long the work would take. They should have told everyone that this was going to take 90 days instead of 60, and then they could brag about finishing "ahead of schedule." They're also largely indifferent about keeping their neighbors informed on the progress of the work. That being said, I flew out of BWI a week ago and it's very apparent they're working their heads off to finish this up. They were hard at work on Sunday afternoon, when I flew out, and also late Tuesday night, when I got back. Large sections of the runway look finished and painted, so that's a good sign.
Paul R November 04, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Hey folks.. as expected, the work has been delayed again. MAA is now showing a completion date of Friday 11/16 at 5:00pm. I'll believe it when it happens. Catonsville hasn't had overflights lately because of a persistent west-northwest wind. Once that pattern shifts next week, you're going to get planes again. Hang in there, I know it seems endless but at some point, they will eventually finish up the work and reopen the east-west runway.
Janu November 16, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I'm at my wits end here, I hope they are schedule to complete on time
Paul R November 16, 2012 at 04:07 AM
The good news is it looks like the runway is on track to reopen Friday at 5pm and stay open through Thanksgiving. The bad news is that more closures are scheduled after the holiday. It will close again the week of 11/27 through 12/4, and also the weekend of 12/8 and 12/9. That's as far out as the schedule goes, so don't know if that's it or if there will be more after 12/9.
Janu November 16, 2012 at 07:57 AM
Thanks Paul! I can't wait for Saturday morning! Be nice to sleep in without hearing the planes. I'm down in Elkridge, I think it is louder down here than in Catonsville.
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craig witzke May 18, 2013 at 01:40 PM
The planes are flying over again at a rate of more than 1 per minute. Does anyone know what's going on?
Paul R May 18, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Yes, they're doing work on 10-28 again this weekend. The work was originally scheduled for February and has been postponed several times. It's scheduled to go until 4pm Sunday. The weather looks like it's going to favor landings over Catonsville for most of that time. I'm not sure if any further weekend work is scheduled after this.


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