Short Takes: Hanscom Field Advisory Commission, December 2018

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

The monthly Hanscom Field Advisory Commission (HFAC) meeting took place on December 18, 2018, in the Civil Air Terminal at Hanscom Field chaired by Bedford Selectman Mike Rosenberg.

Massport Searches for a CEO

Anthony Gallagher, Massport Community Relations, stated that the search for a new CEO is ongoing, with John Pranckevicius currently serving as interim CEO.  Pranckevicius is the former Massport Director of Administration and Finance and Treasurer and is one of the candidates under consideration.

Civil Air Terminal Entry

The Air Terminal main entrance, which has been blocked due to construction, will re-open in January.  TSA screening equipment has been reinstalled on the first floor, after being removed due to the July 2017 flooding of the building.

Airfield Rescue and Firefighting/Customs Building Construction

Construction work for the new combined Airfield Rescue and Firefighting plus Customs and Border Protection Facility has fallen behind schedule because of the two earlier moratoriums on natural gas installations in Massachusetts.

(The moratoriums were put into place by the State Department of Public Utilities due to safety concerns in the wake of the September Merrimack Valley over-pressurization explosions and fire disaster and another less serious October over-pressurization incident in Woburn https://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_32269464/gas-hookup-moratorium-putting-chill-housing-real-estate.

 Although one of the moratoriums was partially lifted on December 19, many construction projects are still delayed by the earlier restrictions https://www.necn.com/news/new-england/The-National-Grid-Moratorium-Is-Gone-But-Developers-Are-Still-in-the-Cold-503165301.html.)

RFP Expected for Hangar 12

Hangar 12, near the Airport, is up for lease in November 2019.  It is currently occupied by Nagle Aviation.  Massport will put out an RFP (Request for Proposals) in the first quarter of 2019.

FAA Control Tower Hours of Operation

When questioned about what might trigger staffing the Hanscom Air Traffic Control Tower at night (it is currently unmanned from 11 pm to 7 am), FAA Tower Supervisor Andrew Applegate replied that 24/7 operation could begin if there is either an increase in general night air traffic volume or if a Massport carrier starts regular night time operations.

Bird Strikes of Aircraft

In answer to a resident’s question, Applegate also explained that bird strikes of aircraft are not uncommon at Hanscom Field and that he files incident reports which are shared with the USDA and added to a database of wildlife incidents at airports throughout the country.

(A specific log of some of the wildlife incidents at Hanscom Field from 1990 to 2015 is available at https://www.city-data.com/wildlife/Laurence-G-Hanscom-Fld-Airport-Bedford-Massachusetts.html.  It includes details on over 170 aircraft strikes involving individual birds, 31 strikes of small flocks (2 to 10 birds), and 4 strikes of large flocks (11 to 100 birds). Mammal strikes include one unfortunate coyote, 2 striped skunks, and one species of bat.  The bird strikes involve 2 Peregrine falcons; 20 American kestrels; 4 Red-tailed hawks; 2 Great horned owls; a Snowy owl; a Turkey vulture; numerous ducks, geese, and gulls; 5 species of shorebirds; 3 crows; several European starling flocks; 11 Mourning doves, 4 flocks of Tree and Barn swallows plus one Bank swallow; several Chimney swifts; 3 flocks of Horned larks and Snow buntings; several Bobolinks and Eastern meadowlarks; a large flock of American pipits; a small flock of Savannah sparrows, 2 Cedar waxwings, 1  Dark-eyed junco; an endangered Blackpoll warbler; and sadly, someone’s pet parakeet.  This is only a partial listing because many of the hits were classified simply as unknown small, medium or large birds until the Smithsonian Institution began assisting with some Hanscom identifications around 2004.

The more complete general database can be found here:https://wildlife.faa.gov .)

Monthly Air Noise Report

The November Noise Report was amended:  the two F/A-18 Hornet jet flight operations for October had been incorrectly ascribed to a Fenway Park flyover for the 2018 World Series.

  • Flight operations for November 2018 decreased overall, when compared to November 2017: single-engine planes were down by 23%, turbo aircraft by 2%, helicopters by 1%, while night flights fell by 3% (from 213 to 206). However, jet flights increased by 1%.
  • In general, the current noise model used by Massport estimates departing civilian flights at Hanscom have exposed residents to noise levels ranging from 106 to 109 decibels since 2016. It models the military flight noise exposure during that period as ranging from 77 to 109 decibels.
  • Flight departure noise exposure from civilian flights is modeled as trending slightly downward from 2015 to 2018, while military flight departure noise exposure is modeled as fluctuating widely, due to occasional F/A-18 Hornet jet and H-60 Sikorsky helicopter flight operations. (From the Hanscom Air Force Base website:  “More than 99 percent of the air traffic at the adjacent Hanscom Field is non-military. The Massachusetts Port Authority operates Hanscom Field, a civil airport that serves as a corporate reliever for Boston Logan International Airport. While both facilities share the “Hanscom” name, it’s important to note: they’re not us, and we’re not them.”)
  • Noise disturbance reports for November increased by about 48% (from 40 to 59) as compared to November of 2017. (Massport encourages Bedford residents who are interested in or concerned with air noise events to call the 24/7 Hanscom Noise Report Line (781-868-8050).  It is important to leave your name and address on your message, or your filing and comments may be discarded instead of entered into the air noise database.  Massport requests your location to help pinpoint the flight track and thus, the identity of the specific aircraft responsible for the air noise event.)
  • Online Hanscom Noise Report Filing Modified: Amber Goodspeed, Hanscom Airport Administration Manager, has requested the Massport IT team simplify the Online Hanscom Noise Report Filing process, in response to some observations at last month’s HFAC meeting about the lengthy 7-step sequence.  The modified Online Report has been reduced to 6 steps, with a button for “Aircraft Activity Monitor and Complaints” being added to the home page of the Hanscom Airport website.  (New Simplified Sequence:  1.  Hanscom Airport webpage  2.  Aircraft Activity Monitor and Complaints button  3.  View Airport Activity Monitor  4.  Complaint button  5.  Login or Register  6.  File Noise Report.)
  • Two noise monitors (Lincoln Brooks Road and Bedford airfield) recorded decreases in DNL (weighted and averaged day and night noise levels) of about 1 decibel, while three monitors (Bedford DeAngelo, Lexington Preston, and Concord Wastewater) showed increases ranging from 0.5 to 1.2 decibels.  The sixth monitor (Concord airfield) recorded significantly higher noise levels (64.1 dB, compared to 54.9 to 62.2 dB for the other five), but was excluded from the comparison, since its measurements from last year were also excluded.   Although Massport reports all noise monitors were 100% operational for the month, it also states that the Lincoln Brooks Road monitor was down for repairs from the 26th through the 30th of November, but no data were lost.  Massport believes the higher noise levels recorded by the Lexington Preston monitor may have been due to nearby utility and construction work, rather than air noise.
  • Once again, the Concord airfield monitor recorded 70+ dB DNL, this time on November 7th. (DNL levels above 65 decibels are considered to be cause for concern by the FAA:  2015 FAA Desk Reference, Section 11-7.)

Monthly Air Traffic Report

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

Upcoming Meetings

  • Hanscom Field Advisory Committee: The next HFAC meeting will be held Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 7 pm in Room 308 of the Civil Air Terminal at 200 Hanscom Drive, Bedford, MA. All residents of Hanscom area towns are welcome to attend.  The February HFAC meeting may be held in the new Boston MedFlight facility.
  • Hanscom Area Towns Committee: The next HATS meeting will take place in Lexington on Thursday, January 24th, 2019, at 7:30 pm, in the Estabrook Room of the Cary Memorial Building, 1605 Massachusetts Avenue.  The guest speaker will be John C. Beatty, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force.  Hanscom area towns’ residents are always welcome to attend.  The meetings are recorded and available for viewing on the HATS website.

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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