Noise Abatement

Notice to all Seaplane Pilots operating in Washington State 

Regarding: Seaplane Noise Abatement Practices for the Greater Seattle Area

From: Tim Brooks, Director of Operations, Kenmore Air (

Each summer residents from communities all over Puget Sound call out for relief from aircraft noise. Not only do residents leave their windows open and spend more time outdoors but private and commercial seaplane and landplane aircraft operations reach a peak of activity this time of year. This results in a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. A few go directly to the FAA at both local and regional levels. Some go to our local elected officials and some to our congressmen. Kenmore Air probably fields the greatest number of these at an average of 5-7 calls a week in August. This summer it has been more than usual.

Kenmore’s "pilot bulletins", monthly pilot newsletter, and daily e-mail systems devote a great deal of time to these issues as they arise. In addition, our initial and recurrent pilot training programs cover these noise issues in depth.

Clearly, Kenmore’s flight activity on Lake Union and Lake Washington account for a great number of these calls but at least 50%, are attributable to other seaplanes. We know this because of the time of the complaint and our knowledge of where our aircraft are. We are hopeful that all of us as private and commercial pilots recognize the need to be as considerate of these residents as possible. The following is a summary of the key noise issues in our area. Your thoughtful consideration for following these guidelines will do much to maintain the goodwill of these residents.

Summary: Most complaints are the result of resident perception that the seaplane is too low over their neighborhood. The answer is simply to fly a minimum of 1,500agl over land whenever possible. The following account for the vast majority of complaints:

  1. Edmonds to Carkeek Park and Ship Canal-Noise and Overflight complaints:
    • Crossover the shoreline inbound to Lake Washington or Lake Union a minimum of 1,500msl- preferably 2,000msl.
  1. Lake Forest Park Shoreline south to Union Bay and University District-Noise and Overflight complaints:
    • Cross over the western shoreline of Lake Washington outbound to Puget Sound a minimum of 1,500 msl-preferably 1,800msl.
    • Reduce climb power settings to cruise if feasible when crossing the shoreline.
    1. Lake Union Ship Canal- North Magnolia (south of the canal near locks) and Shilshole Marina (Sunset West Condominiums) Noise and Overflight:

    Be careful to overfly the centerline of the canal the entire length unless necessary to move right to avoid oncoming traffic. Fly to the south of the Shilshole Marina breakwater when outbound or inbound into the canal to avoid overflight of the Sunset West Condominiums which sit out over the water just south of the marina.