Essay on Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

Published: 2021/11/04
Number of words: 4074


Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) is one of the busiest airports in the world. However, being the busiest airport is not recent news; it has been busiest since 1957 and one of the busiest in the United States. The research paper highlights different issues and concerns surrounding the airport, different regulations, and practices at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The continuous increase in air travelers has forced airports to grow to meet the demands of the ever-increasing passenger. Therefore, the number of airports is increasing, and existing airports are developing. The growth and increase of airports might increase employment opportunities, although people living near the airport suffer the most due to continuous noise from take-off and landing. So, to understand the rules and the regulation implemented at the airport and the corresponding agency involved. The report utilizes various sources available, such as online and offline, which shows the different concerns regarding the Hartsfield-Jackson airport. The research reveals a comprehensive analysis of the Hartsfield-Jackson international airport that highlights the brief about the airport and different agencies and legal actions involved to mitigate the noise level and the land acquisition. The airport is undergoing an expansion that needs the sixth runway to be added to the airfield. This expansion is not welcomed by the residents living near the airport, and their views are also discussed with the historical background and future concerns.

Keywords: Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, busiest, Air traveler, Mitigate, Noise, Residents.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

The name of Atlanta airport is Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport which is in the State of Georgia. Atlanta’s central business district is only 7 miles north of the airport. William B. Hartsfield and Maynard Jackson were Atlanta’s former mayors, and the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was named after these two. The total number of international and domestic gates is 209, in which 152 gates belong to domestic flights and 40 gats for international flights. The area covered by the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is approximately 4700 acres. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has five parallel runways (ATL, 2016). The airport serves North, South, and Central America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport ranks sixth as an international gateway to the United States of America. Airport also serves as one of the major hubs for domestic travel throughout the southeastern region of the USA. In addition, the airport caters to almost one million flights within the USA (ATL, 2016). Since 1998, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been the busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic. From 2005 to 2013, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was the busiest for the landings and take-offs; however, it lost this title to Chicago-O’Hare in 2014 and retained it back in 2015. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport accommodated almost 100 million passengers annually, 260,000 passengers daily, and 950,119 flights in 2012 and remained busiest in the world for 2012. It continued to be the busiest in the year 2017, accommodating almost 104 million passengers. (Tharpe, 2007; ACI, 2017).

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Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson focuses on low-fare carriers such as Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit airlines. Also, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is a primary hub of Delta airlines. Delta hub is the largest hub in the world, with over 1000 flights a day. Approximately 75.4% of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were flown by Delta airlines, 9.2% by Southwest airlines, whereas 2.5% by American airlines (ATL, 2016). Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport also hosts a corporate headquarter for Delta airlines and is home to Delta airlines’ technical operations center, primary maintenance, repair, and service arm. The airport lies in separate parts of the Clayton and Fulton counties, but the airport falls into Atlanta, College Park, and Hapeville (ATL, 2016). MARTA’s Red as well as Gold rail lines serve the domestic terminal of the airport.

This research report primarily focuses on the current issues, regulations, and different practices within the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The report illustrates the different government agencies or private agencies responsible for the passenger and cargo security at the airport. Different government agencies took legal action to reduce hazards in the airspace to the aircraft and community living near the airport. The report also shows the legal powers of the government agencies to carry out preventive actions to reduce hazards. Identification and a brief description of airline accidents from 1st January 2000 have been illustrated, followed by a discussion on the airport’s sustainability on the current activities and anticipated air traffic in the future.

Airport security screening

Security at the airport is referred to the methods and the techniques used to protect the passengers, airport staff, and the airplanes from malicious or accidental harm, criminal activities, and other threats. Usually, security at any airport mixes material and human resources to protect civil aviation against unlawful activity. The unlawful activity could be bombing, terrorism, a threat to life and property, false threats. Large numbers of travelers commute through airports every day, and therefore it is a potential target for terrorist activity and any other type of crime due to the number of people present at one place (Rimmer, 2011). Also, the possibility of the attack on large airliners with a high concentration of people is very high. There is a possibility of hijacking such a plane that could be used as a lethal weapon for terrorism. Such incidents were experienced during the 11th September attacks. Therefore, airport security has the utmost importance to prevent all these acts or difficult situations from occurring. The continuous efforts of the airport security personnel significantly reduce the chances of harmful situations, threats, and illegal items entering aircraft airports and the country. Therefore, airport security aids several purposes such as guarding the airport, airport, the country, and the passengers from possible threats and assuring the travelers that they are in safe hands. According to Mr. M R Belger of the United States Federal Aviation Administration, “the goal of aviation security is to prevent harm to aircraft, passenger, and, crew as well as support national security and counter-terrorism policy” (Naef, 2018).

The responsible government agency for the security of the passengers and cargo at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson international airport is the Transportation Security Administration, also known as TSA, a part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The TSA was formed under the aviation and the transportation security act 2002. The act provides directions for security at the airport. The acts say the federal employees must carry out the passenger screening; therefore, the screening of the passenger baggage is now conducted by the TSA. Also, the terrorism prevention act 2004 provides the guidelines to improve security technology to detect explosives. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is in category X, the largest and busiest airport in the United States and a susceptible target for terrorism. Therefore, security for the volume of passenger traffic as well as cargos is provided by private contractors (Lee, Nikolaev & Jacobson, 2008).

TSA has evolved to an intelligence-driven strategy and a risk-based security organization to improve security and passenger experience. This approach provided expedited security screening for trusted passengers, giving more time to focus on unknown and high-risk passengers at the security checkpoint. To identify, reduce, and resolve possible threats, TSA personnel may use risk-based security measures at the security checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. TSA Personnel initially focused on the identity, itinerary, and property of the passenger. Despite the alarm has been triggered or not, the TSA uses a different screening process. Also, TSA carries out random security measures throughout Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and no passenger is guaranteed expedited screening. TSA employs armed federal air marshals, a team of dog handlers and explosive specialists, and screening officers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (Lee, Nikolaev & Jacobson, 2008).

Government legal actions

The Federal Aviation Administration is also known as FAA, is a government agency that regulates civil aviation within the jurisdiction of the United States federal government. The FAA ensures that the action is taken at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport airspace to avoid containment of large turbine-powered aircraft operating to and from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Also, to prevent a potential midair collision, the FAA is enhancing safety at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport terminal area. FAA also regulates laws for land acquisition, aircraft noise to protect the communities located near the airport (FAA, 2013).

The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has similar difficulties to other major airports to balance community demands, such as the limited growth of an airport and still serving and maintaining substantial traffic volumes and international status. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the oldest airports built in 1920 is playing an essential role in the aviation industry as a prototype of innovation and development within the United States and the world (City of Atlanta, 2003a). Recommended guidelines for noise mitigation and land use are governed by the environmental and technical service division of the department of aviation of Atlanta (City of Atlanta, 2003b). Noise management initiatives have been in effect for more than 25 years, and a study conducted in 1978 by the Airport Noise Abatement and Land Use Compatibility, also known as ANALUC, provided the outline for the land planning and control for the Atlanta (City of Atlanta, 2003b). This outline became a strategy, and it has now evolved and employs measures for home acquisition and sound insulation with an overall cost of $71.5 million. Also, the airport is focused on its future by protecting itself by using easement of aviation on mitigated homes (City of Atlanta, 2003b). Irrespective of the initiative taken by these departments, residents near the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were dissatisfied with the plan of development of the airport in the year 1990. According to the news, in the 1990s, these plans were regarded as an additional expense along with additional anticipated noise and disturbance. The residents said the plan was not economically beneficial even though it promised many jobs on the airport premises. Although, Atlanta has expanded since then. To reduce the noise at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has developed a noise compatibility program for the airport premises illustrated in the “FAR Part 150 Study Noise Compatibility Program Report” and the document that is submitted to the FAA under the provisions of 49 USC and section 47504. “FAR Part 150 Study Noise Compatibility Program Report” recommends the noise combability program anticipated by the city of Atlanta on page 9-3 action element number. The regional airport divisional manager approved the entire seven Noise compatibility programs in total. The FAA has decided the specific action for every compatibility program measure. 24th January 2008 was the effective date of this approval. The airport noise compatibility program was designed and developed according to 14 CFR part 150, not a federal but local program. The approval, as well as disapproval of FAA concerning the 14 CFR part 150 program recommendations, are measured following the 14 CFR Part 11 50 standards as well as the aviation safety and noise reduction act of 1979 (49 JSC 47501-47507), and it is restricted to the determinations as follows, by utilizing the provisions. The procedures of the 14 CFR Part 150 noise compatibility program were developed. Also, the program provides achieved the goal of reducing current noncompatible land users around the airport consistently; also, the program prevents further noncompatible land users. The development and the result of the program would not create an excessive burden on the foreign trade, or it would not discriminate against the types as well as classes of aeronautical use or intrude upon the terms in the grant agreement with the airport or intrude into areas secured by the Federal government. Without deteriorating the safety, the program can be implemented for the flight procedure for the period covered by the program. Also, the program does not adversely affect the efficiency and arrangement of the airspace navigation, air traffic control system, or any other responsibilities and authorities of the administrator set by the law.

The city of Atlanta takes few actions to mitigate the issue of noise. There are restrictions on the development within specified zones. Soundproofing is compulsory, along with the building code restrictions. Agreement of owners was carried out for the easement of aviation to grant the over-flight rights.

In 2013, the FAA approved the new configuration of the class B airspace in Hartsfield-Jackson International airport. Figure 1 shows the possible modification proposed by the FAA for the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The effect is due from 7th March 2013; however, some pilots have expressed concerns about the redesign process of the airspace. On the other hand, many participants in the rulemaking process are happy with the changes as all the comments have been addressed, such as reduction in potential traffic compression, considering another airport outside the airspace of class B airport, and VFR navigation option for the class B area (FAA, 2013).

Class B airspace’s floor set to 7000 feet above mean sea level in the final design, and FAA is convinced that this change would not affect the departures on the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport airspace reduction will keep the Covington Municipal airport outside the adequate class B airspace, approximately 29 nautical miles from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. This rule also illustrates the intentions of FASS to launch VFR waypoints and reporting points to help VFR navigation. These VFR routes can be used to circumnavigate the airspace. Even further, FAA is working towards launching RNAV terminal routes for the transitioning IFR aircraft, and the routes are under the design according to the FAA (FAA, 2013).

Figure 1 shows the potential changes in the different regions within the airport approved by FAA. The figure shows the minute changes and the understanding of the zones in which changes will occur.

Figure 1: Modification of the Atlanta GA Class B airspace area (FAA, 2013)

Accidents and safety breach

There have been no aircraft collisions since 1st January 2000 at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport but few incidents; however, this section discusses the overall picture of the accident and corresponding reasoning at the Hartsfield-Jackson International airport. Delta airline flight 1903 was crashed after take-off; the tragedy took the life of four crew members. This was the training flight for two captains of Delta airlines. Flight 995 of Eastern airlines was hijacked on 25th February 1969 by one passenger right after take-off. The man wanted to be flown to Cuba, and therefore he pulled out a 0.22 caliber pistol to hijack the plane. The person who hijacked the plane left in Cuba, and the plane was flown back to the USA; a similar incident happened in 1970 where a woman held the plane hostage to flew to Cuba. Boeing 727 of Eastern airline overran Beechcraft King Air on 18th June 1990. The Boeing 727, during its landing roll, collided with the King air-taxing after landing. The pilot of the King air was killed in this incident. Due to a glitch in hydraulic line maintenance, AirTran Airways, flight 867 lost its control and slewed from the runway during the landing. The brake of Boeing 737-700 failed during the running test conducted by two engineers of Delta airlines on 13th March 2012. The airplane went on the runway and crashed downhill, crashing the chain link fence. One airport engineer was injured. Front landing gears, as well as both the engines, had to be replaced on the airplane. The underground Georgia Power electrical facility fire caused the power outage at ATL on 17th December 2017; many flights were canceled and delayed due to a power outage (Ranter, 2018).

Current situation and the issues

As discussed earlier, the department of aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration had estimated aircraft noise in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport vicinity more than 30 years ago. The FAA approved the first noise compatibility program in the year 1984. Since then, the department and the airport authority have maintained the all-inclusive noise mitigation program. The mitigation program includes property acquisition and noise insulation for the home and other noise-sensitive sites. The monitoring systems are used for the noise and operations by the department as a part of its overall noise program. This program includes the education of those people who called in for the complaint of noise. This program has reduced the number of complaints annually. At present, the department is implementing the airport noise mitigation program within the jurisdiction of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to improve the land use compatibility with the noise of the aircraft. Figure 2 shows the noise exposure map of Hartsfield-Jackson International airport and the area covering the airspace. The blue line shows the take-off and landing zones, the blue line shows the noise at the terminals, whereas the yellow line shows the taxing of the airplane (ATL, 2016).

Figure 2: Noise exposure map (ATL, 2016)

However, after taking many actions by the FAA and the airport authority to mitigate noise, few houses are still unbelievably unhappy about the airport’s growth as the airport’s expansion will bring more flights in along with the added cargo operations that mean more operations at night. Also, the addition of the sixth runway making the lives of the people living nearby is challenging. According to some people, “the noise is horrible affecting the daily chorus miserably.” On the other hand, College Park residence voted in favor of a referendum to force Congress to direct FAA to establish new noise exposure measures and authorize the additional funding to insulate the homes in the affected address. The airport Hartsfield-Jackson international handles almost 2500 arrivals and departures every day, whereas take-off happens for about every 45 seconds during rush hours. Most affected areas are the areas with cheap rents. In such areas, excessive noise can disrupt sleep, and kids may get affected by the heavy noise; people might have to shout while generally speaking due to the heavy volume of the jet engines. At the same time, the owner and operator of the Hartsfield-Jackson airport, the city of Atlanta, is seriously focused on its position in the world and taking the initiative with a $6 billion plan of modernization and expansion (ATL, 2018).

Earlier expansion of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has wiped out the entire neighborhood, for example, Mountain View. The current plan to have the sixth runway is on the existing airfield rather than removing residents and expanding the airport’s footprint. Although, the expansion will demolish a few hotels located southwest of the airport. The Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, wants more cargo flights at night when the airport is mostly quiet. Therefore, the new cargo facility is being established on the south side of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. According to the FAA, quieter aircraft from 1975 to 2000 have benefited the residents living around the airport, although most of the quieter aircraft have been produced and the gain from it started in the year 2000 predominantly. However, total decisions must be taken through new policies on the growth of the airport along with the operational procedure (FAA, 2008).

The recent study on the noise conducted at Hartsfield-Jackson shows the noise counters governing the areas eligible for the sound insulation. However, the airport is not optimistic about the noise contours yet as it is very early to tell, as the sixth runway will again change the noise contours. The noise insulation program carried out at the Hartsfield-Jackson steadily added new doors and windows, air-conditioning, and other procedures in-home apartments and offices. The insulation project cost is approximately $10-$15 million yearly; however, 80% of the same is paid by the federal government; according to Hartsfield- Jackson airport authority, they are insulating approximately a few hundred units a year. The older homes and apartments that have already been fitted with the insulation in the last decade will not qualify for insulation upgrade due to the increase in flight numbers at the airport (Li, Eiff, Laffitte & McDaniel, 2007).

The new insulation offensive has been sparked by the referendum approved by the voters of the college park. The “National Association to Insure a Sound-Controlled Environment,” also known as NOISE, works under councilman Clay. The elected local officials are working together to mitigate noise levels at the airport’s surrounding area. In this year, Hartsfield-Jackson has received a total of 143 complaints, which is more than that of 107 in 2015, but half of these complaints are from two people only (Yamanouchi, 2016).

Recently, on 27th June 2018, a man climbed a fence and ran on the taxiway and towards the taxing airplane filled with passengers at the Hartsfield-Jackson. This has exposed the vulnerability in the security of the world’s busiest airport. The security has identified the person, and the legal actions have been taken; however, the question remains unanswered: How safe is Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport? (Yamanouchi, 2018).

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This research paper aims to have a brief analysis of Hartfield-Jackson International Airport based on the various issues such as obstacles in the airspace, the noise level at the airport, land acquisition, and the corresponding legal agency responsible for the same. The agencies involved in such activities have been identified, and their work at the Hartfield-Jackson International Airport and the brief introduction of each report have been studied. Different incidents and accidents at Hartfield-Jackson International Airport have been discussed briefly, along with the current issues at the airport and possible solutions.

Hartfield-Jackson International Airport is in the process of getting more developed and modernized to serve more passengers as well as cargo. However, the current situation at the airport shows that further expansion will wipe out the neighborhood. The sound level will increase, and it will affect the people living near the airport. According to the existing plan, the airport will not expand excessively and plan to have the sixth runway on the existing airfield; however, it will still increase air traffic, and the sound level will increase. The FAA and the airport authority are making the efforts, but the residents are not happy with the expansion, and the airport is being subjected to peaceful protest by the neighborhood residents. The residents at the college park have recently voted in favor of referendums to urge Congress to direct FAA to establish new noise exposure measures and authorize the additional funding to insulate the homes in the affected address. Since the airport is within city boundaries, the airport has the limitations to serve several flights, even if this expansion proved to be correct, but for further expansion, the airport would have to consider a different place.

Work cited

ACI. (2017). 12 months – 2017 – Aircraft Movements – Monthly Traffic Data – ACI World. Retrieved from

ATL. (2016). ATL Fact Sheet | ATL | Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Retrieved from

ATL. (2016). Monthly and year-to-date airport traffic report—Department of Aviation, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Atlanta, Georgia 30320.

ATL. (2016). Planning, Noise, and Environmental | ATL | Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Retrieved from

Delta. (2016). Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport | Delta News Hub. Retrieved from

FAA. (2008). Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia Noise Compatibility Program Record of Decision. ATLANTA AIRPORTS DISTRICT OFFICE, 1-18.

FAA. (2013). Amendment to Class B Airspace; Atlanta, GA Rules and Regulations. 14 CFR Part 71, 78(6), 1742-1750.

Lee, A., Nikolaev, A., & Jacobson, S. (2008). Protecting air transportation: a survey of operations research applications to aviation security. Journal of Transportation Security, 1(3), 160-184. doi: 10.1007/s12198-008-0014-z

Li, K., Eiff, G., Laffitte, J., & McDaniel, D. (2007). LAND USE MANAGEMENT AND AIRPORT CONTROLS Trends and indicators of incompatible land use. Partnership For Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction An FAA/NASA/Transport Canada sponsored Center of Excellence, 1-9.

Naef, W. (2018). Retrieved from

Namowitz, D. (2013). Atlanta & rsquos Class B airspace changes take effect 7th March. Retrieved from

Ranter, H. (2018). Atlanta-William B. Hartsfield International Airport, GA profile – Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved from

Rimmer, D. (2011). Does Heightened Airport Security Make Us Safer? Retrieved from

Tharpe, J. (2007). Atlanta airport still the “busiest” | Retrieved from

Yamanouchi, K. (2016). Atlanta airport plans prompt a new push on noise. Retrieved from

Yamanouchi, K. (2018). Atlanta airport: Hartsfield-Jackson fence breach raises security concerns. Retrieved from

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