Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Barnstable Municipal Airport so close to residential
The airport has had commuter service to Boston and Nantucket since
1929. As the towns of Barnstable and Yarmouth grew, residential
neighborhoods moved closer to the airport, and more homes were built
in flight paths. Barnstable Municipal Airport is land locked, so
aircraft using the airport have no other choice but to fly over
Why can’t aircraft fly over open spaces like golf courses, lakes
While the optimum flight path would be over open space,
unfortunately there are no clear paths of open space for aircraft to
considering moving to the area and want to know how close my house
may be to the airport and air traffic?
Our Flight Tracking System allows you to look at the historical
tracking information, for a day, week or month. In addition, you may
contact the airport’s noise abatement office at 508-862-8268 to
assist with your question.
Can’t the airport just divert air traffic away from my
neighborhood once in a while?
The airport does not attempt to meet any numerical quota when
dealing with air traffic issues. The judgment of the air traffic
controller (during tower hours of operations), wind, other weather
factors, surrounding air traffic, the capabilities of the aircraft
and the judgment of the pilot, all affect the decision on which
runway to use for arrivals and departures or which flight path to
take. We do not use one runway or another a set number of times
within any given time period or direct flights over a neighborhood
for any given interval. Safety is always the primary concern.
Why are the noise abatement flight paths voluntary? Can’t you
fine “problem” pilots or air carriers or prevent them from using the
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits mandated
restriction of flight paths, hours of operation and unduly
prohibition of open access to airports. The only exception is for
airports which had restrictions in place prior to a 1990s law.
Therefore, our noise abatement program has always been voluntary.
Barnstable Municipal Airport is prohibited by federal law from
levying fines, restricting hours of operation or restricting access
to the airport (or the route by which an aircraft has access to the
airport) to aid with noise abatement. We must rely solely on the
continual notification, education and compliance of aircraft
operators. Noise abatement is dictated by safety considerations as
well as federal law.
What time does Barnstable Municipal Airport close?
Consistent with federal law, the airport is open 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The air traffic control tower
is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., but aircraft are permitted to
operate after the tower closes. During these after-hours, air
traffic is controlled by facilities in Manchester, NH.
How do I report noise, and what happens to my complaint?
Noise complaints may be called in to the airport’s dedicated noise
abatement line: 508 862-8268. You must provide your name, the date,
time and location of the incident. You may leave your telephone
number if you would like a return call or specify that you would
like a written response. All noise complaints are tracked according
to the FAA Part 150 Noise Study. The noise complaints are also
investigated with our ERA Airscene flight tracking program.
Complaints are compiled monthly and reported to the Barnstable
Municipal Airport Commission, the Hyannis Air Traffic Control
manager and the chief pilots of the commercial air carriers. We
encourage the air carriers to follow voluntary noise abatement
flight paths when safety allows, and to respect the airport’s
voluntary noise curfew.
How does the flight tracking system track the aircraft?
For further information,
please contact the Airport’s Security/Noise Abatement Coordinator,
Christina Lounsbury, at 508-862-8268 or at
The airport’s flight tracking system works with monitors placed through
the community. These monitors communicate with the aircraft’s
transponders to report their altitude, flight path, speed and
arrival/departure. More sophisticated transponders also report the
aircraft’s tail number, manufacturer and owner. This system tracks the
aircraft from ground level up to five miles out.
I witnessed a pilot flying in a very dangerous manner. How should I
report the pilot?
If you witness an aircraft flying in an unsafe manner and you believe
the situation requires immediate attention, please contact the FAA
Aviation Safety Hotline at 800 255-1111.
Why do aircraft fly in different paths when the weather is cloudy
rather than clear?
During good weather flying conditions, or VFR (Visual Flight Rules),
pilots fly in the airport’s voluntary noise abatement flight paths.
When the weather is inclement (when the ceiling in less than 1,000 feet
and visibility is less than three miles), air traffic controllers choose
paths based on weather, wind and traffic for the safest possible route.
While the IFR paths differ from the VFR path - based on traffic and
safety concerns - a pilot may be directed in a VFR path while flying IFR.
My town has a noise ordinance. Isn’t Barnstable Municipal Airport in
violation of this ordinance by the hours the aircraft are allowed to
No. As mentioned above, airport access is regulated by the FAA and
federal law which supersedes state laws and local ordinances.