Hanscom Field Advisory Commission – March, 2019

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Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

The Hanscom Field Advisory Commission (HFAC) met March 19 to hear the presentation of Massport’s annual State of Hanscom report by Sharon Williams, Director of L.G. Hanscom Field Airport.  Current airport/airfield development projects and routine monthly air noise/air traffic reports are also discussed.

STATE OF HANSCOM REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

The comprehensive report covers topics ranging from flight operations, finance, safety and security improvements, Massport’s proposed 5-year plan for airfield development projects, environmental issues, to community outreach efforts. The full 17-page Report can be viewed on the Massport website at http://www.massport.com/media/3115/state-of-hanscom-2018.pdf.

Specific construction projects expected to impact Bedford are listed here: https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/04/massport-projects-expected-to-impact-bedford-in-2020-2023/.

Loss of Flight School Reflected in Hanscom Flight Operations Decline for 2018

Preliminary data indicate that overall flight operations in 2018 declined by 5.4%, with a total of 121,664 daytime flights operations logged, compared to 128,598 flights for 2017.  The most significant decrease was for flights by small single engine aircraft while operations increased for helicopters, turboprops, and jets. Williams explained that this decrease in general aviation air traffic mirrors a nationwide trend and also reflects Executive Flyers flight school closing at Hanscom and consolidating its operations at its Norwood Airport base in April 2018.

The airport director said that the number of Hanscom flight operations peaked at over 300,000 in 1970, and fell to the lowest ever recorded number in 2018. Regular military flying operations ceased at Hanscom Field in 1973, and Massport assumed full civilian operation in 1974.  Fewer than 1% of present-day flights are military-related:  http://www.massport.com/hanscom-field/about-hanscom/ and https://www.hanscom.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/379480/a-brief-history-of-hanscom-air-force-base/

Airport Continues to Operate in the Red

Although the airport’s operating revenues were up 17% over the previous year, it still incurred a $3.2 million deficit for fiscal year 2018.  An additional $4.4 million deficit is projected for fiscal year 2019.  The airport also operated at an annual loss of $1.4 – $3.1 million in the years 2015 through 2017.

L.G. Hanscom Field revenues come from a combination of tenant rental fees; aircraft landing, parking, and nighttime flight fees; customs fees; fuel flowage fees; and income from flight school, aircraft ground services, and rental car commissions.

Annual Economic Benefits Model

Williams cited a 2019 MassDOT Aeronautics Division study that estimates operations at L.G. Hanscom Field benefit the regional economy by $679 million/year, and employment directly related to the airport creates 2,243 full-time equivalent jobs, with annual wages of $133 million.  Hanscom Air Force Base personnel are not included in this calculation.

When questioned by Lexington HFAC member Margaret Coppe about the reliability of these statistics, Williams explained that the numbers are generated by a model used to estimate airport impacts on local economies.  The model and its “multiplier impact” factors are explained in the MassDOT study:  https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/03/19/aeronautic_EconImpact_031819.pdf.

Airport Director Seeks to Increase Massport Contributions to Hanscom Area Community Organizations

The annual report shows Massport donations shared among Hanscom area towns totaled $36,600 in 2018:

  • $7000 for educational, scholarship and youth programs
  • $14,600 for summer internship positions at municipal departments
  • $15,000+ for salaries of local college students employed by Massport

A breakdown of contributions ear-marked for Bedford students was not provided.

Williams encouraged increased participation from local groups in Massport’s community outreach program, saying, “We absolutely need more applications.  I want to give away more money.”

She urged interested town officials and community organizations to contact Massport Community Relations liaison, Anthony Gallagher, agallagher@massport.com, to learn more about the application process for funding. A list of more than 140 community organizations in other towns that already receive Massport donations can be seen at http://www.massport.com/massport/community/community-partners/.

MONTHLY AIRPORT/AIRFIELD DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS REPORT

Updates on several Massport construction projects include:

  • Repairs for the East Ramp airfield pavement are scheduled from August to October 2019.
  • T-Hangars A-C (on the Civil Terminal side of the airfield) are expected to be rebuilt between March and July 2019.
  • The new Airfield Rescue and Firefighting/Customs and Border Protection Facility is expected to open on May 21, 2019.
  • Massport and Signature Flight Support have agreed to terms pertaining to updating existing Signature hangars and replacing the current FBO (Fixed Base Operator) facility.

MONTHLY AIR NOISE REPORT

Jet activity increased by 2.5%, and helicopter activity increased by 10.2% for February, compared to February 2018.  Slight decreases were noted for single engine and turbo-prop aircraft activity, as well as for night flights (despite the 35 arrivals of private aircraft from Atlanta on the night of Super Bowl Sunday, Feb 3rd).

February noise disturbance reports doubled in number from 29 to 58 reports (by 18 different callers), compared to the same time last year.

Five Hanscom Field air noise monitors were functional during February, with the sixth brought back online on February 23 after having a microphone replaced.  The sixth monitor is located at the east end of Runway 11-29, closest to the South Road neighborhood.   Its high noise levels throughout January and most of February were excluded from last month’s noise report because Massport representatives believed them to be unusual and perhaps related to some type of malfunction.

Correction: When first posted on April 16, 2019, the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission was incorrectly named the Hanscom Field Advisory Committee in the headline. The error was corrected on April 19, 2019