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The information on this page is made available to address aircraft noise concerns and to help residents understand the facts and regulations associated with aircraft noise from arrivals or departures in the immediate vicinity of Palm Springs International Airport. 

  • Per federal law, the airport is not able to regulate airspace, aircraft operations, aircraft noise levels, airline schedules, or airline fleet mix.
  • Airlines are responsible for managing their individual flight schedules and aircraft fleet mix.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is solely responsible for managing the National Airspace System including all aircraft flight paths and altitudes.
  • The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 limits U.S. airports from imposing noise-based operational restrictions on quieter (stage 3) aircraft, including airport hours of operation, number of aircraft operations, or aircraft noise levels.

FAQs Regarding Aircraft Activity and Noise

Helicopters are much more versatile than fixed wing aircraft. For this reason, law enforcement, ambulance services, hospitals, utilities, and other types of industries use helicopters for a variety of special purposes. These include police related matters, emergency evacuation or transport of injured humans or organs for transplant, community health, utility power outages and repairs, and other types of utilitarian activities that can develop at any hour of the day and night and usually do not originate or terminate at PSP but from either of the other two airports in the Coachella Valley or from another location.

It is not unusual for Palm Springs International Airport to receive calls regarding helicopter noise issues generated by activity not utilizing the airport.  The airport does not receive information about or have influence over helicopter flights that do not involve the airport. Some helicopter operations brought to the airport’s attention serve the nearby Palm Springs Desert Regional Medical Center as medical evacuation flights. If you have a specific concern about these flights, usually occurring in the neighborhoods around the intersection of North Indian Canyon Drive and Tachevah Drive, please contact the hospital directly at (760) 323-6524.

While the airport’s footprint has not grown, the number of airline passengers flying into and out of the airport is increasing. However, the actual number of aircraft flying into and out of the airport has remained relatively flat; the growth in passenger numbers is because airlines are operating with higher load factors (more passengers per aircraft) and they have increased the size of aircraft from 50-70 seat aircraft to 130-190 seat aircraft. This has resulted in roughly the same number of flights arriving and departing and less impact to surrounding communities. View the statistics page to see reports on how traffic is trending.

What has been in the news about PSP are ongoing existing facility improvements, not expansion of the runways or the airport footprint. There is no need, nor are there plans, to expand the airport’s airfield because its utilization rate is well below capacity. The only components of the airport that have been identified as needing capacity enhancements are the structures that process passengers, including a remodel and modernization of the main terminal, the construction of a new car rental facility, and the remodeling of the terminal’s baggage claim area.

The military does fly some aircraft that are very noisy. Military use of Palm Springs International Airport is not new as these flights have been here since the airport’s origination as a military airfield in the 1940s. During World War II, the Army constructed the airfield here and the City of Palm Springs took possession of the airport in 1961 and converted it into a municipal airport. Since the federal government released the land to Palm Springs and has provided millions of dollars in grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to help construct runways, lighting systems, terminal buildings, and a control tower, the airport is required to allow the federal government, which includes the military, to use its facilities in perpetuity. This means the City of Palm Springs cannot prevent United States military aircraft from using the airport. Palm Springs International Airport does not have any military facilities or aircraft based on airport property, but the airport does experience military aircraft landings mostly related to fuel and rest stops, and some practice takeoff and landings.

Palm Springs International Airport cannot prohibit the military from using the airport when they need to. However, the airport does convey messaging to the military to encourage pilots to avoid noise sensitive hours and, overall, the military has been responsive to that request by keeping most operations to the daytime when they have discretion to do so. There may still be times when military aircraft use the airport outside of daylight hours and the City of Palm Springs cannot prevent this per federal law.

Per the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, the City of Palm Springs cannot limit the number of commercial or general aviation flights, nor can it create a curfew to prevent flights during nighttime hours. While there are some airports that have nighttime curfews, those rules were in place before 1990 and grandfathered in allowing those airports to retain their curfews.

Helicopter pilots, click on links below for Good Neighbor Information

Military Aviators, click on link below for Good Neighbor Information

The Airport Commission Noise Committee meets quarterly. Residents are welcome to attend and can submit comments. Agendas are posted at least 72 hours in advance on the City of Palm Springs calendar and on the airport website commission page.

To understand how to file a complaint about an aircraft incident, it is important to first understand who has jurisdiction over aircraft. 

  1. Is the aircraft in the air?
    Once the aircraft is off the ground and in the air, it is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration. This jurisdiction includes aircraft flight paths, which are not under the control of Palm Springs International Airport. If your concern is about an aircraft that is in flight and further than eight miles from the airport and you want to voice a concern, please contact the Federal Aviation Administration’s Western-Pacific Region office at (424) 405-8020.

  2. Concerned about noise at Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport or Crown Aero (Bermuda Dunes Airport)?
    Please contact those airports directly as they are not owned or operated by the City of Palm Springs.

  3. Is the aircraft on the ground at PSP?
    While aircraft are on the ground on the property of the airport, the airport is responsible for any noise emanating from that aircraft. If you have a concern about an aircraft on the ground at Palm Springs International Airport, or in the air within 8 miles of the airport, creating abnormally long periods of noise, please complete the airport’s Noise Comment Form.
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