Hanscom Field Advisory Commission Update – October 2018

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

The October Hanscom Field Advisory Committee meeting focused on the 2017 annual Noise Report compiled by Massport, a monthly noise report for September 2018, the monthly tenant air traffic report, and a report on development activities at the field. There was also time for public comment.

Bedford Selectman Michael Rosenberg chaired the October 16, 2018, meeting of the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission (HFAC) at the Civil Air Terminal at Hanscom Field.  Also in attendance were Christopher Eliot, the citizen representative for Lincoln; Concord Select Board member Alice Kaufman; and South Lexington Civic Association representative Margaret Coppe.  Massport was represented by Amber Goodspeed, Hanscom Airport Administration Manager; Kassandra Marin, Hanscom Airport Data Specialist; Anthony Gallagher, Massport Community Relations; and Massport consultant Bradley Nicholas, of HMMH Aviation Services of Burlington, MA, whose area of expertise is airport noise monitoring.  Bedford resident and helicopter pilot, Thomas Hirsch, attended on behalf of the Hanscom Pilots Association.  A number of residents of Bedford, as well as Carlisle Selectman Kate Reid, provided an attentive audience for the 2017 Annual Hanscom Noise Report.

2017 Massport Annual Noise Report for Hanscom Field

The Report was prepared and presented by Ms. Goodspeed, based on Ms. Marin’s data collection and analysis. Thousands of interesting airport, airfield, and aircraft noise measurements are compiled and analyzed in the 51-page report, which Ms. Goodspeed summarized with admirable brevity.  Some of the highlights included:

  • The general history of the Hanscom Field Noise Reports from 1982 to the present day.
  • An explanation of how cumulative noise exposure at and near Hanscom (known as EXP) is estimated based on parameters such as total numbers of flight operations, fleet mix, time of day, and military versus civil aircraft.  Although Hanscom Airport has been run as a civil airport since 1974, with no military aircraft based there, and less than 1% of total flight operations are now military, almost 33% of total aircraft departure noise exposure for 2017 was generated by those few military flights.
  • The 2017 FAA Control Tower count for flight operations between 7 am and 11 pm was 128,598. (Night flights are not included because the Control Tower at Hanscom is unmanned from 11 pm to 7 am.)
  • Civilian flights have increased by 5.6% since 2016.
  • 2017 business jet flights have increased 17% over the previous year.  They represent 23.6% of total flight operations but were responsible for 73% of all civilian flight departure noise.
  • Turboprop flights increased 33.5% over the previous year
  • Night flights increased by 9.1%, with jets making up the majority of the 2226 flight operations.
  • Although Massport estimates civilian aircraft noise exposure from Hanscom increased slightly to 107 decibels, compared to 106.8 the previous year, it was Massport’s second-lowest estimate since 1978.
  • The 2017 Report shows that Lincoln residents represented 62.4% of the 614 noise complaints received at the Massport Hanscom 24/7 Noise Complaint Line (781-869-8050), with Bedford at 17.1%, and Concord and Lexington both under 10%. Complaint calls were up by 204% in Lincoln, and 46% in Bedford, compared to the previous year.

Interested readers who wish to learn more about the topics of Noise Terminology, Hanscom Noise Abatement Policies, Noise Monitoring Systems, and the subject of Noise Prediction Methodology will find the full report posted on the Massport website https://www.massport.com/media/2988/2017-annual-noise-report-full.pdf

September 2018 Monthly Noise Report

  • Single engine, turboprop, and jet activity for the month all decreased (5.5%, 2.0%, and 12%) compared to September of 2017.  Helicopter flights increased by 6.4% and night flights were up by 1.1%.
  • 70 noise disturbance reports were generated last month – an increase of 21% compared to this time last year.
  • Noise monitors registered 9 days in September with readings above 70 DNL (Day-Night Sound Level) – all at the Concord end of Runway 11-29.  (FAA considers any level above 65 DNL to be incompatible with land used for residential and recreational purposes, parks, schools, churches, wildlife refuges, and places of cultural or historical significance per 2015 FAA Desk Reference, Section 11-7.)  Massport believes the high noise levels for September were generated by construction projects and “wildlife training” operations.  The training method involves airport maintenance staff firing guns loaded with blanks – both for practice and to encourage animals to avoid the airfield.  (Heads up, all Bedford Bears!) Live ammunition is substituted when birds or mammals are deemed a threat to air or ground traffic.

Monthly Air Traffic Report

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

Massport Hanscom Projects and Third Party Development Report

  • Boston MedFlight has begun to move into their new headquarters and hangar.
  • Massport will present proposed business terms with developers for new hangars on the Pine Hill side of the airfield, and the two sites on the North Airfield. (Note:  these North Airfield hangars and associated facilities will be on land that is near, but separate from the 16-acre Navy parcel currently being auctioned by the GSA (Federal General Services Administration).
  • Walls are now going up for the new Hanscom Airfield Rescue/Firefighting/Customs/Border Protection Facility.

Citizen Comments

Ms. Goodspeed was asked for additional information about annual wildlife mortality due to airfield control operations with guns and traps.  Ms. Goodspeed said the data should be available.

Some concern was expressed about Massport and FAA assurances that Bedford residents of neighborhoods in Kendall Court and along Hartwell Road, along with players and families using The Edge recreational turf fields will not be exposed to increased airfield and aircraft noise levels from the proposed new North Airfield Corporate Jet Hangar and T-Storage Hangar and associated facilities and activities. 50 or more jets, prop and turboprop planes, and helicopters are anticipated to be housed and/or serviced on the North Airfield, after an absence of such activities for about 20 years.  Mr. Nicholas, Massport’s Air Noise Consultant, explained that the FAA virtual noise exposure model predicted no disturbances would be created.  He conceded that sometimes the presence of physical monitors to record actual noise levels within neighborhoods can provide residents with more of a sense of reassurance than the FAA virtual noise exposure contour lines.  He explained that Massport has been particularly generous in providing such noise monitors to communities near its airports (Interesting fact:  30 monitors are currently in use for communities impacted by 1700-acre Logan Airport.  Hanscom area towns have 6 monitors assigned for 1125-acre Hanscom Field Airport.)  It is uncertain whether Massport will consider providing a pre-construction baseline noise measurement within the Kendall Court or Hartwell Road neighborhoods. Addition of another permanent monitor within the North Airfield neighborhoods is also uncertain. The nearest noise monitor to the Kendall Court neighborhood is located about half a mile away on the west end of Runway 11-29 within the Concord town line, and two monitors are positioned a little more than a mile and a half away, on the east end of Runway 11-29 and on Deangelo Drive in Bedford.

Upcoming Meetings

The next HFAC Meeting will be on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, at 7 pm in Room 308 of the Civil Air Terminal, 200 Hanscom Drive, Bedford.  All residents of Hanscom Field area towns are welcome to attend.

The next meeting of Hanscom Area Towns Committee (HATS) will be this week on Thursday, October 25th, at 7:30 pm, in Lexington – for this week only at the Lexington Town Office Building, Parker Room on the lower level, rather than the usual Cary Memorial Building.  Paul Regan, Executive Director of the MBTA Advisory Board will give a presentation, and updates will be provided on Hanscom Air Force Base, Hanscom Field Civil Airport, and related agencies.



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