Hanscom Field Advisory Commission ~ Short Takes ~ February, 2019

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Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

The Hanscom Field Advisory Commission met on February 19 to discuss Hanscom Field developments and the monthly air noise report with Massport representatives and tour the new Boston MedFlight facility at 150 Hanscom Drive, near the Civil Air Terminal building. Topics included firefighting at Hanscom Field; North Airfield development; noise monitoring; air traffic; a bill proposed by Rep. Stephen Lynch to allow “the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to study the health impacts from planes, potentially laying the groundwork for a class action lawsuit,” according to the Boston Herald; local representation on Massport’s CAC executive board; Massport’s communication with the Attorney General in response to Bedford rezoning the Navy hangar parcel.

Hanscom Air Force Base Relinquishes Primary Firefighting Responsibility at Hanscom Field

Amber Goodspeed, Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Manager of Administration at L. G. Hanscom Field Airport, announced a change in firefighting services at the airfield. Hanscom Air Force Base (HAFB) has notified Massport that as of April 1, 2019, the Base will no longer be able to provide primary landside firefighting services to Massport.  Goodspeed said that Massport will hire 2 additional firefighters and a fire chief to fill the airport roster of 4 shifts of 3 crew members in order to maintain 24/7 readiness for public safety incidents.

Previously, HAFB was reimbursed by Massport for sharing its firefighters with the airport.  Goodspeed said HAFB and Massport will retain their relationship as mutual aid partners in public safety matters, even though Massport will now assume primary firefighting duty on Massport land.  The new construction for the combined Massport Air Field Rescue / Firefighting Facility and Customs and Border Protection Facility will be expanded, in order to accommodate additional crew members and firefighting equipment that will now be required at the airfield.  Massport plans to brief Bedford, Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord in more detail about these changes.

Developer for North Airfield T-Hangars, Taxilane, and Corporate Hangar Still Uncertain

Goodspeed also stated that the Massport Board has approved business terms from Rectrix, a Ross Aviation company, to build a new corporate aircraft hangar on the Concord Pine Hill area of the airfield.  The project will not move forward, however, until the present Pine Hill T-Hangars are demolished, and a replacement set of T-Hangars and a new taxilane are constructed on Bedford’s North Airfield.  Although she estimates completion of the Bedford projects will require from 18 months to 2 years, at present it is uncertain who the builder (or builders) will be.

A developer for the Massport-proposed Bedford North Airfield corporate aircraft hangar has not emerged from interested parties as of yet.  Potential site plans for both of the Bedford projects and the new taxilane can be viewed here:  https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/02/massports-north-airfield-development-inches-forward/.

Bedford Noise Monitor Closest to South Road Neighborhood Shows High January Noise Levels for Undetermined Reason

Of note for January, Goodspeed that the month’s data for the Bedford noise monitor on the airfield nearest to the South Road neighborhood would not be included in the report.  Based on past experience, she believes that this particular monitor may be malfunctioning since it recorded higher than usual noise levels throughout the month of January.  Massport has retained a technician who is working to determine why the monitor readings are comparatively high.  Goodspeed says it does not appear to be wildlife-related (In the past, there have been issues with mice and birds causing monitors to register higher than normal noise levels).

The regular Hanscom monthly air noise and air traffic report can be seen here: February 2019 HFAC Meeting Handouts

Super Bowl Sunday ~ Air Traffic

When asked if February 3, Super Bowl Sunday, had generated extra air traffic at Hanscom Field in the evening or night hours, Goodspeed said approximately 35 private aircraft had returned to Hanscom Field from the Atlanta area that night.  She explained that the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower was staffed overnight in anticipation of these returning flights.  The Tower is ordinarily unmanned from 11 pm to 7 am during the year, but routinely stays open and manned for the night of Super Bowl games.

State Police Helicopter Searches Not Limited by Massport

In reply to a question about Massport or the FAA having possibly limited a State Police helicopter search flight for a missing person in Bedford to 20 minutes on February 3rd, Goodspeed explained that Massport does not interfere with State Police helicopters on search missions, and she is unaware of any FAA restrictions that could have limited the search procedure on that day.  She believes that in general, both Massport and FAA try to facilitate State Police helicopter operations as much as possible.

A recent article about the incident stated, “The air wing was limited to a 20-minute search because it was not allowed air space by Massport per FAA regulations. With a longer search, the missing person may have been located earlier.”  (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/02/balancing-community-safety-and-family-privacy/)

A subsequent incident took place the same night. According to Concord Police, the missing person broke into a home in Concord and abducted the homeowner at knifepoint.  The victim was released unharmed several hours later after being forced to drive to New Haven, Connecticut. (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/02/wanted-concord-police-seeking-home-invasion-suspect/ )

Representative Stephen Lynch Bill Significance for Hanscom Area Towns Unknown at Present

In other matters, Anthony Gallagher, Massport community relations representative, was questioned on the topic of Massachusetts U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch’s new airport impact mitigation bill, proposing a comprehensive, multi-faceted nation-wide study of the possible negative health impacts of large airports on surrounding communities. (https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/02/09/u-s-rep-stephen-lynch-takes-aim-at-airport-noise-pollution/)

Gallagher said the study would likely be focused on the nation’s largest commercial airports, but conceded it was possible that some of the study’s results might have significance for the communities surrounding general aviation airports such as Hanscom Field.

Hanscom Area Towns Presently Unrepresented on Massport Community Advisory Commission (CAC) Executive Board

In answer to a question about the make-up of the Massport Community Advisory Commission’s 7-member Executive Board, Gallagher said that since the resignation of a former Concord Board member, the Executive Board has no representation from the 4 Hanscom towns. The board was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2014 to represent the 35 communities impacted by Massport-operated airports:   http://massportcac.org/.  Bedford is eligible to seek election to the Executive Board, although Gallagher mentioned that airport-impacted towns are able to press for their interests with Massport through both regular CAC and Executive Board CAC membership.  Heidi Porter, Bedford Board of Health director, serves as Bedford’s CAC representative.

Massport Letter to AG Concerning the Rezoning of Divested Navy Land in Bedford

In answer to a query about the recent Attorney General ruling disallowing the Town of Bedford’s recent rezoning of the divested Navy land adjacent to the Bedford North Airfield, Goodspeed explained that the AG solicited input about the matter from Massport last year.  She said a copy of the Massport letter to the AG was shared with the Town in January.  (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/02/moving-forward-after-july-30-special-town-meeting-zoning-changes-are-disallowed-by-the-ag/)

Christopher Eliot, HFAC Commission member, requested that a copy of the letter be shared with the Commission.  Goodspeed thought that would be possible if Massport headquarters would allow.

Boston MedFlight Tour

After the Commission meeting adjourned, Rick Kenin, Chief Operating Officer of Transport for Boston MedFlight, led the HFAC attendees on a tour of MedFlight’s state-of-the-art medical transport facility.

Mr. Kenin explained that the new $17.3 million facility is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified Green Building, with conservation and improved indoor environmental qualities incorporated into every phase of design, from roof-top solar panels to radiant heated hangar slab and ambulance bays.

The facility has training spaces for community first responders (including a realistic medical simulation lab); a sophisticated 24/7 communications center to coordinate air and ground medical transport teams; sound-insulated sleeping quarters for medical, air, and ground transport crews to facilitate round-the-clock staffing; hangar space for customized medical transport helicopters and a fixed-wing plane; and garage bays for ambulances.  Although Boston MedFlight began operations in 1985 specializing in trauma patient transport, currently more than 85% of its medical flight and ground transports are now for general critical care transfer of patients between medical facilities.  MedFlight is unusual among medical transport companies in the U.S. because it is a non-profit organization funded and maintained by a consortium of 7 member hospitals (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Tufts Medical Center) and donations. (For a full description and photographs of the facility please see:  https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2018/11/boston-medflight-opens-new-headquarters-hangar-and-critical-care-transport-operations-facility-at-hanscom-field/  https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2018/12/bedford-cub-scouts-visit-medflight-boston/.)