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For the week of Sept. 15, 1999 through Sept. 22, 1999

Noise complaints pour into airport

Airport authority researching FAA noise compatibility program


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

Rick BairdAirport Manager Rick Baird.

There’s been an explosion of noise complaints registered with the agency that runs Friedman Memorial Airport.

According to the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, valley residents and airport staff have registered more complaints about aircraft noise in recent weeks than in any previous period.

From July 24 to Aug. 24, there were 61 reports concerning 53 events, airport manager Rick Baird, said at a meeting of the Airport Authority on Tuesday of last week. Ten of those events were between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., Baird said, adding that 13 to 20 of them were caused by what’s called a stage 2 aircraft, which are the loudest aircraft allowed to use the airport.

In the past, the airport has received 20 to 40 complaints per month during the summer, according to the airport authority.

"It’s been a difficult month because of this," Baird said. The airport now writes personalized letters to offending air crews and officers, he explained, which increases the time airport staff spend on each complaint.

Baird said the increased number of complaints is caused to a small degree by repeat offenders and to a larger degree by an increased number of new pilots flying into the area who don’t know about the airport’s noise abatement program.

Reducing the number of noisy flyers in the valley is a matter of informing those new pilots of the program, Baird said. He said there are five major points pilots should realize:

 The airport has recommended departure and arrival routes that avoid heavily populated areas in the valley.

 The entire valley is noise sensitive; therefore, pilots should fly as high as possible and stay to the east or west.

 Pilots should avoid operating aircraft between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

 Aircraft greater than 12,500 pounds should avoid departing to, or arriving from, the north.

 Aircraft auxiliary power units should be used for 30 minutes or less on the airfield.

To make sure pilots know about those points, Baird recommended the airport install a phone in the flight planning room with a recorded message. He also suggested the procedures be published in magazines and journals pilots read, and that the airport establish a pilot-of-the-month program to reward quiet flyers.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the airport authority is researching the benefits of the Federal Aviation Administration’s noise compatibility program, which, Baird said, would carry more weight among pilots than Friedman’s guidelines alone.

Baird said the problem is that the FAA doesn’t think the Wood River Valley has a significant enough noise problem to receive federal money. Without federal money, the airport would have to pay $200,000 to $500,000 for the FAA’s program, Baird said, and he doesn’t think that will happen in the near future.

 

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Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.