Hanscom Field Advisory Commission August 2020:  Air Traffic Rises as Pandemic Recovery Continues

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Aircraft operations at Hanscom Field are creeping closer to pre-pandemic levels, as regional business activity slowly recovers.

The Hanscom Field Advisory Commission, meeting by videoconference Aug. 18, learned that air traffic rose in July, reaching a total of 10,279 daytime arrivals and departures.

This was a significant increase from recent months — April (2,358), May (3,652), and June (8,139).  However, the coronavirus continued to impact flight operations when compared to July 2019, a decline of 21.5 percent from last year’s 13,099.

Flight Operations and Air Noise Reports

Amber Goodspeed, Massport airport administrative manager for Hanscom Field, reviewed the monthly statistics report, which separates the overall operations number into several categories to give a detailed picture of current general aviation flight activity at the airfield as compared to July of 2019:

  • Local touch-and-go practice flights decreased 15.8% (5090 down to 4286)
  • Single-engine flights decreased 29.2% (3701 down to 2621)
  • Jet flights decreased 26.8% (2225 down to 1628)
  • Helicopter flights decreased 7.9% (877 down to 808)
  • Turbo prop flights decreased 24.3% (794 down to 601)
  • Twin-engine flights decreased 14.4% (354 down to 303)
  • Night flight operations decreased 42.1% (228 down to 132)

Military flights, which routinely average less than 1% of yearly flight activity at Hanscom, were down to 32 for the month, as compared to 58 in July of 2019.

In keeping with the lower flight activity numbers, noise disturbance reports also decreased by about 28% for July compared to last year (197 down to 141).

July average noise levels measured at the six air noise monitors, which are located on the airfield and in surrounding towns, ranged from a low of 55.7 decibels (dB) at Site 33 on Lincoln Brooks Road to a high of 63.9 dB at Site 31 on the airfield (Concord west end of Runway 11/29).  Five of the six monitors showed decreases between 0.6 dB (Lincoln Brooks Road Site) and 4.3 dB (Airfield Site 32, Bedford east end of Runway 11/29) as compared to July 2019.

(The Bedford DeAngelo Drive Site 34 monitor readings were excluded from comparison because of extremely high readings recorded there last summer, which Goodspeed believes were due to equipment malfunction.)

Improved software for logging air noise and/or flight track questions, complaints or concerns is now in place for Hanscom Field.  It will allow Massport to email noise disturbance responses to residents rather than sending letters through the postal system.

“Hopefully, the backlog will get addressed fairly quickly now that the system is in place,” Goodspeed replied to an inquiry about the status of unanswered air noise complaint filings from 2019.

Residents will still have the option of calling Massport’s regular Hanscom Noise Line at 781-869-8050.  An independent subscription service for one-touch air noise filings using the Airnoise.io button has also been available for Hanscom Field since early 2019.

Airfield Projects Development Report

Goodspeed mentioned that site surveying and geotechnical boring is underway for two corporate hangar projects: the Ross-Rectrix hangar at the Pine Hill side of the airfield near Virginia Road in Concord, and Signature Flight Support near the Civil Air Terminal.

The Ross-Rectrix corporate hangar project will replace old T-hangars planned for demolition. Replacement structures will be constructed on the so-called north airfield in Bedford, behind Instrumentation Laboratories on Hartwell Road.

Bedford resident Patty Dahlgren reminded Goodspeed that last winter she had been asked to unbundle status reports on the Concord Ross-Rectrix corporate hangar and Bedford T-hangar projects, which to date Massport has rolled together and labeled simply as the Pine Hill Development.  Dahlgren has repeatedly expressed concern at HFAC meetings that lumping the two projects together makes it harder for town officials and residents to track Massport development and construction decisions which will impact Bedford neighborhoods and traffic.  Goodspeed agreed with Dahlgren that the two projects should be separated going forward.

The development report showed that in April Massport signed a contract with Kleinfelder, Inc., an engineering, design and construction firm headquartered in San Diego, to design the proposed Hartwell Road T-hangar complex.

Other News

During the citizen comments period, a recent local flight school training session involving repetitive “touch and go” practice and pattern work over Bedford neighborhoods for an hour and a half was brought up, and several possible compromises on future training sessions were proposed.  Click here to see:  https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2020/08/flight-school-touch-and-go-practice-session-draws-attention/

The commission’s next virtual meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15. Persons desiring email notice of HFAC meetings and agendas may register at the HFAC website hosted by the Town of Lincoln at https://www.lincolntown.org/AgendaCenter/Hanscom-Field-Airport-Commission-58.

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