A plane takes off from DeKalb Peachtree Airport.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

5 questions you might have about the future of PDK airport

This is a pivotal year for DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, the second-busiest in the state and a popular destination for both corporate jets and small, single-engine aircraft.

Work is continuing on a 20-year “master plan” for airport growth and development, along with plans to add new jet hangars. But it’s revived worries from nearby residents in Brookhaven and Chamblee, who question whether the airport noise will increase and if air quality will decrease.

The airport held a master plan “open house” in Chamblee on Wednesday, where residents and pilots talked with PDK officials about what the 765-acre airport could look like 20 years down the line. That said, here are five questions you might have about the future of PDK airport.

Is air traffic at PDK going to increase?

Most likely, yes. The airport projects its takeoffs and landings will increase 37% from 2018 to 2040. There were nearly 160,000 last year, and that could rise to almost 220,000 in 2040, the predictions show. However, airport officials pointed out that operations at PDK in the last several years have been lower than ever. In 1990, the airport saw about 250,000 takeoffs and landings. The maximum number of flights the airport can handle is estimated at 275,000 per year.

PDK airport director Mario Evans answers questions from local residents at a recent airport advisory board meeting. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Is noise going to increase?

This one is tricky, and the answer isn’t clear yet. Some nearby residents already complain about the noise that comes from planes overhead — especially at night — and they worry that will only increase as operations rise. The airport, however, said improvements in engine technology leads to quieter planes. For example, the most popular jet at PDK 30 years ago was more than 10% louder than today’s most popular jet, according to master plan documents. Both fit 19 passengers. Officials say the size of the planes at PDK will likely not increase, because they are restricted by the size of their runways.

Will air pollution be a problem in the future?

This is another question that depends on who you ask. Several residents said they are concerned about the lead in the fuel that the planes use, and said they can sometimes smell gas in their homes near PDK. The airport said it tests the air to make sure lead levels are safe, and that more modern planes are also more energy-efficient.

Planes fill a hangar at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Will there be more planes based at PDK?

Yes. There were 355 airplanes stationed at the airport last year, but that number could grow to about 490 by 2040, PDK estimates. The airport is already making plans to build more hangars for corporate jets. A number of large companies like Waffle House and Southern Company fly their executives into PDK. Earlier this week, the Chamblee City Council approved design plans for eight new hangars in the southwest portion of the airport, near Clairmont Road.

What’s next?

The master plan process, which began last fall, is about halfway complete. Officials have begun to identify possible areas of improvement at PDK, including better streetscapes and on-site redevelopments. They will soon make a list of projects they could tackle before setting a roadmap and to-do list moving forward. Residents will get more chances to comment on the process at upcoming workshops and airport committee meetings. The master plan is expected to be approved by next summer.

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In other news:

"Officers Andrea Serrano (left) and Tyson Nguyen did not know they were arresting a former rapper and reality star when they took Raymond “Benzino” Scott into custody on June 22. He cursed at them and called them racial slurs, but they were praised for exhibiting patience and staying calm during the hourlong incident caught on their body cameras. Officers who arrested ‘Benzino’ say they weren’t phased by racist insults DeKalb Co. -2861 minutes ago By J.D. Capelouto Tia Mitchell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution As a local celebrity grew more irate and offensive in his back seat, police officer Travis Nguyen kept his cool. He also kept his body camera rolling. What transpired would later go viral, as former rapper and reality star Raymond “Benzino” Scott lobbed racist insults toward Nguyen and his partner while being arrested.Both Brookhaven officers have since been widely praised for the patience they exhibited during the hour-long ordeal. Nguyen, an 11-year veteran who was tasked with driving Scott to the DeKalb County jail, stayed especially mild-tempered as the rapper shouted slurs and other offensive remarks about his race." - Story by J.D. Capelouto and Tia Mitchell Video by (Tyson Horne/tyson.horne@ajc.com)

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