The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) participates as a technical advisor to the Portland International Jetport on community noise concerns. The agency participates in the airport's semi-annual Noise Advisory Committee meetings.
The agency is working on two initiatives related to community concerns about noise:
Harbor Visual Approach (HVA) for Runway 29
The FAA is adding GPS waypoints to the existing Harbor Visual Approach procedure for Runway 29. Waypoints will enable pilots to fly more precisely along intended flight paths over the harbor when they are on approach to the runway. Adding waypoints will give pilots better reference points to navigate the procedure and help avoid noise sensitive areas. The procedure will be available only during the day in clear weather. The FAA anticipates publishing the HVA with GPS waypoints tentatively in late 2021 or early 2022. It will be in effect immediately when it is published. This conventional, visual approach is not as precise as an RNAV (GPS) approach.
The FAA conducted an environmental review of the procedure in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and issued a Categorical Exclusion.
Southwest Airlines (SWA) Special RNAV Visual Approach for Runway 29
The FAA in May 2020 approved a Special RNAV (GPS) Visual Approach for Runway 29 that was developed by Southwest Airlines (SWA). Southwest is the only airline that can fly the approach. Other air carriers that serve PWM are reviewing procedure and may receive approval to use it soon.
The approach can be flown day or night and in low visibility conditions. SWA pilots flying the approach follow a precise flight path that tracks north of Peaks Island before descending over the harbor to the airport and avoids residential neighborhoods in South Portland.
During periods of inclement weather, air traffic will require pilots to use the Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach which enables pilots to land in lower visibility.