'Quiet' Planes Okayed for Night Takeoffs

The Transportation Ministry announced yesterday that starting immediately, planes categorized as 'quiet' - meeting stage four standard of noise or less - would be allowed to take off from Ben-Gurion International Airport at all hours.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz met with Environment Minister Gideon Ezra yesterday to finalize the details of the new plan. Transportation Ministry sources told TheMarker residents near the airport would not be adversely affected by late night departures, as the planes taking off would not be so noisy .

The stage four standard is based on a proposal by the the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to classify newer, quieter subsonic airplanes. stage four airplanes are considered about 10 decibels quieter than the stage three standard, though no official decision has been made.

Ben-Gurion airport is generally closed to departures between 2 A.M. and 5:30 A.M. The ministers decided to extend this blackout time for stage three planes to cover the hours between 11 P.M. and 6 P.M.

Delegates at the meeting also decided to spread out departure times for all planes leaving Ben-Gurion, to limit excessive evening or morning congestion.

The Transportation Ministry said spreading out departure times would put an end to "noise windows" - takeoffs concentrated in the early morning and late afternoon hours. The source expects average noise levels in communities near the airport to decline as a result of the changes.