A regional court in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on Monday ordered a temporary suspension of flights by Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer strike aircraft from a nearby base, in response to complaints about jet noise when they overfly the city.
“The court has ordered the Defense Ministry and the respective Air Force unit to suspend flights by combat aircraft on the flight path over five residential areas of the city, as these flights are deemed illegal,” the court said in a statement.
Local residents have complained to the city authorities about the racket ever since the jets were moved to the nearby Shagol air base in November 2010. The citizens claim the air force is violating their right to a comfortable living environment.
Chelyabinsk residents complain the intensive roar produced by the Su-24s flying over the city at low altitudes every 10-15 minutes frightens children and triggers car alarms. They say training flights are sometimes even carried out at night.
Testing by the Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology in Chelyabinsk region has confirmed the aircraft noise exceeds acceptable levels. However, military officials argue that the aircraft noise measurements did not take into account a number of specific factors.
Shagol's air base commander said earlier the flights pose no threat to the city residents, and said it would be impossible to move the base from its current location any time soon.
The loudest noise is made when aircraft turn on their afterburners while taking off, and also during landing, but the flight path cannot be changed, he added.
The regional authorities have supported the residents’ claims and appealed to the Russian Defense Minister to resolve the conflict.
Several Chelyabinsk residents filed a lawsuit in a civil court after the Defense Ministry failed to address the issue.
The Su-24 is a strike aircraft designed to deliver missile and bomb attacks at low altitudes.
The jet has a poor safety record, with 16 major accidents involving the type since 2000.