Hanscom Field Advisory Commission Update – September, 2018

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

The Hanscom Field Advisory Commission (HFAC) met Tuesday, September 11, 2018, in the Civil Air Terminal, at Hanscom Field.    Selectman Michael Rosenberg, representing Bedford, chaired the meeting.   Lincoln citizen representative Christopher Eliot and South Lexington Civic Association representative Margaret Coppe also attended.   Massport was represented by Amber Goodspeed, Hanscom Airport Administration Manager; Kassandra Marin, Hanscom Airport Data Specialist; and Anthony Gallagher, Massport Community Relations.  The Hanscom Pilots Association representative Thomas Hirsch was also in attendance.

Mr. Rosenberg opened by praising Massport for hosting the participants in the 2018 Hanscom Airport Emergency Tabletop Exercise on September 4th at the Civil Air Terminal.  The simulated disaster drill brought together first responders representing Bedford, Lexington, Lincoln and Concord, with personnel from Massport, the Air Force, the FBI, Emerson Hospital, and Armstrong Ambulance.  The participants gained valuable experience rehearsing, discussing, and coordinating plans in preparation for a potential future multi-casualty disaster on or near Hanscom Field.

Monthly Noise Report

Ms. Goodspeed presented the monthly aircraft noise reports for both July and August, 2018, based on Ms. Marin’s data collection and summaries.  She noted that for July, there was an overall decrease of about 7% in monthly aircraft operations compared to 2017, although helicopter activity increased by 12%.  July aircraft operations totaled 11,620.

The total flight operations for August were also down by about 9%, compared to 2017, because of a 20% drop in single engine propeller plane activity.  However, turboprop plane operations increased almost 20%, jet operations increased by about 9%, night flight operations increased by 21%, and helicopter activity increased by about 19%. August aircraft operations totaled 11,094.

Noise disturbance reports to Massport were down both months (a decrease from 60 to 56 for July; and dropping from 111 to 73 for August) compared to this time last year.

Four Hanscom Noise Monitors are located in Bedford, Lexington, Concord, and Lincoln, with an additional two on the actual airfield at the ends of east-west Runway 11-29, within Bedford and Concord town borders.  Noise levels exceeding 70 DNL (Day/Night Average Sound Level) were detected at Site 31, the Concord airfield Monitor, for eleven days:  nine in July and two in August.

For reference, the FAA considers airfield/aircraft generated noise levels above 65 DNL to be incompatible with residential and other sensitive areas, such as land used for educational, health, and religious purposes; as well as parks, recreational areas, wildlife refuges, and sites of cultural or historical significance.  Interested readers may want to consult the 2015 FAA Desk Reference, Section 11-7 on Noise and Noise Compatible Land Use; click this link for more interesting details:     https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/environ_policy_guidance/policy/faa_nepa_order/desk_ref/media/11-noise.pdf). 

Massport reported airfield mowing, tree removal and July runway construction work as likely sources of the high noise levels.   None of the 6 Hanscom Noise Monitors were disabled or troubled by mice and birds in July or August, as has happened in the past.  However, Massport did provide incentive for a coyote to leave the Site 31 area by noise “harassment” with sirens, which may have contributed to high level readings during August.

Massport always encourages residents to contact its HANSCOM NOISE COMPLAINT LINE at (781) 869-8050 if they are disturbed by, or concerned with loud aircraft noise, so Massport is aware of the effectiveness of its extensive noise mitigation efforts.

Monthly Air Traffic Report

Hanscom tenant Linear Air reported no inbound or outbound flights for July or August.  None of the other Hanscom tenants submitted air traffic data reports for the HFAC meeting.

Massport Hanscom Projects and Third Part Development Report

  • Boston MedFlight Hangar construction (near the Civil Air Terminal) is scheduled to be completed in October.
  • Massport hopes to update the HFAC members in October about the status of a new corporate hangar to be built on Pine Hill area of the airfield, near Virginia Road, northwest of Rectrix.  The construction contract includes a requirement that the three older storage hangars (T-Hangars) occupying the site be demolished and rebuilt on the North Airfield in Bedford.
  • Massport has requested additional financial information from potential bidders for the North Airfield new corporate hangar project.
  • Ms. Goodspeed announced that Massport has no further interest in acquiring the North Airfield 16-acre Navy land parcel and will not provide future updates about the matter.  Mr. Gallagher of Massport then added that three bidders have made four offers on the Navy parcel, starting last week, with the 4th bid arriving earlier in the day.  (That September 11th bid was for $530,000. As of September 18, 5 bidders have made 6 offers, with top bid rising to $550,000.)
  • Massport will review its photogrammetry data (aerial photographs) in October to make plans for its 2019 Vegetation Management Plan. (Massport periodically clears or trims trees around the airfield, sometimes does replacement planting when trees from private residences are required to be cut down, regularly applies herbicides to runway ends and also applies herbicides to airfield areas deemed to have invasive plant species.)
  • Additional small plane and helicopter storage hangars (T-Hangars A-C, on the Civil Air Terminal side) will be torn down and replaced this fall, over a period of 19 weeks.  Massport has told aircraft owners to rehome their planes and helicopters elsewhere during that period – either at other airports, at one of the Hanscom FBO (Fixed Base Operator) hangars, or to plan for fall/winter outdoor storage by tie-down.
  • An RFP (Request for Proposals) has been issued by Massport to replace the current Hanscom Field Noise and Operations Monitoring system (the current monitoring contract will expire December, 2018).  The proposal due date is September 28.

Citizen Comments

Mr. Gallagher was asked if Massport could assign an extra Noise Monitor to the North Airfield, in view of the projected arrival of 50 (or more) corporate jets, private planes and helicopters, which are set to be housed in the proposed new North Airfield corporate jet  and T-Hangars, which will be constructed in close proximity to Bedford residential neighborhoods.  Mr. Gallagher said he would check with the Massport Noise Abatement Office. (Massport operates thirty-six Noise Monitors, with six assigned to Hanscom area towns, and 30 assigned to Logan area communities.)

In answer to another question, Ms. Goodspeed explained that although both GPU and APU generators (ground and aircraft mounted auxiliary power units) are extremely noisy, the Airport limits their operation to no longer than 30 minutes at a time.  (The generators are used to power jets while they are on the ground, so that, among other things, the interiors are kept comfortable for passengers and crew during very hot or cold weather.) Ms. Goodspeed said Massport personnel routinely monitor generator running periods and ask jet operators to turn the generator off or depart after 30 minutes of use.  She said that practice will also be applied to the jets which will be using the proposed new North Airfield hangars.

There was some conjecture by Bedford citizens in the audience of whether the jets or helicopters to be housed in the new North Airfield corporate and T-Hangars complex would have more noise impact on surrounding Bedford residential neighborhoods.  Helicopters seemed to be favored in the informal guesstimates.

Upcoming Meetings

The next HFAC Meeting will be on October 16, 2018, at 7pm in Room 308 of the Civil Air Terminal, 200 Hanscom Drive, Bedford.  The Annual Noise Report for Hanscom will be presented at that time.


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