Prime Air

City leaders want to tone down noisy, low-flying Amazon jets, particularly those flying at night and in the early morning. But they admit it will be a long struggle to get federal officials to change rules that keep departing aircraft flying low over Lakeland.

Many people within about five miles of Lakeland Linder International Airport, including as far south of Mulberry, have heard and seen the low-flying jets.

The fix for toning down the Amazon jet noise is complicated because several government agencies are involved, most critically the Federal Aviation Agency, according to Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz. Mutz said Amazon “wants to be a good neighbor and is doing what they can” to lower noise levels.

He knows the issue well because “They fly right over my house,” he said.

It was considered a coup in 2019 when the city of Lakeland signed a 50-year deal to lease 47 acres to Amazon. Amazon said their 223,000-square-foot sorting facility will produce 800 to 1,000 jobs. The company moved its sorting facility from Tampa because it had no room to expand at Tampa International Airport.

Lease payments to the city would amount to $967,812 a year on 47 acres with the amount subject to resetting in five years, officials said when the agreement was signed.

U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, a former Navy pilot and Lakeland city commissioner, confirmed that Lakeland airspace has been constricted for years.

“For all the years I’ve flown out of Lakeland, there’s a (2,000-foot) hold down after takeoff until cleared to climb by Tampa Departure Control. A hold down of some sort is standard procedure, especially in busy airspace like we have here between Tampa and Orlando,” he said in a text message to LkldNow.

“Since Departure Control owns the airspace, pilots have to switch to their frequency, departure has to identify them on radar and then ensure there’s no traffic conflict before they can be cleared to climb higher. Sometimes that happens pretty quickly and sometimes, for example, if the controller is handling several aircraft at the same time, it might take a minute or so.”

He said a jet flying below 10,000 feet, roughly 5 miles a minute, can easily traverse all of Lakeland before getting clearance to climb.

“The FAA is aware of the need to modify the longstanding departure procedures for (Lakeland Linder), but they’re a slow-moving bureaucracy. I’m confident it’ll happen, but probably not quickly. … Jets are terribly inefficient when flying low and slow. They want to get high and fast ASAP.”

Commissioner Stephanie Madden first publicly broached the low-flying jet issue during a Jan. 4 City Commission meeting.

She said she knows she is supposed to hear the cha-ching of a cash register when Amazon jets fly overhead, but she’s still getting complaints.

City officials say they are working with the federal government to mitigate the problem, particularly in the hours most people are sleeping.

Lakeland Airport Director Gene Conrad said he’s working on it, but unfortunately it will take time. He said he wants, at the very least, to get the 2,000-foot restriction up to 3,000 feet.

Without some relief in federal restrictions, the noise of “loitering jets” could actually get worse before it gets better as the airport keeps expanding, he said.


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10 Comments

  1. I find the sound comforting. Yes they can be loud l, but so can trains. It’s not a constant noise. It’s ebbs and fades.

  2. Multiple large planes flying in / out of Lakeland. City officials absolutely knew sound would be an issue. But the mighty dollar negates that I guess…

  3. The last that I read the complaintiffs numbered about 40. That 40 must include some very influential people to have the changes put in place. I live near both the airport and train tracks. The noise truly is not bad. It’s less than some of the boom boxes in vehicles. All I have to say is REALLY?

  4. Those people knew about the planes coming into our airport if you don’t like the noise move out of the area they are jobs being there so if you don’t like it pack up and move to the woods out in the dessert . I live less than 3 miles from airport they do not bother us I love it means people are working

  5. I don’t mind the flights coming and going. My issue is the timing, especially after 10:00pm and before 6:00am. People in the flight path have a right to sleep, let’s allow them some quiet.

  6. Is the city of Lakeland going to send a piece of the million dollar check to the people affected or just use it to pay for City expenses at County citizens expense??? Just asking.
    seems fair!

  7. this should have been disclosed, considered, and negotiated prior to granting the lease. compatibility and land use planning surrounding airports is complicated. this arrangement was not thoroughly vetted and residents are left holding the bag.

  8. We live in a senior mhp about 2 miles from linder. The sounds are devastating both at nite and in am. They come every 20 minutes between 8 pm and 9 like clockwork they start at 5:45 am each morning for a an HR..they make our mobile shake, scare our animals and raise our blood pressure the planes look like they’re only a few hundred ft off the ground. And yes Betty, we are in fact moving, within 72 hrs actually!

  9. this is amazing to me the mayor of lkland didn’t take into consideration the noise factor or how low the planes would be flying and how often my guess is that it didn’t matter at the it all sounded really good when dollars started getting thrown around well get ready Mr mayor residents of lkland will move.

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