Noise Complaints from Residents Would Help to Identify Specific Aircraft

During the April 21 meeting of the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission, Mark Wimmer, Massport airport data specialist, explained part of the reason Massport has a tough time correlating specific aircraft with air noise complaints:  many residents’ air noise reports are too vague to allow identification of a particular aircraft, especially during the day when multiple planes are taking off or practicing flight patterns over areas of Bedford.

“We’re not trying to hide anything, it’s just really impossible to exactly correlate one complaint with one single plane many times.”

Emily Mitchell, HFAC and Bedford Select Board member pointed out that some of the difficulty may also be due to differing degrees of understanding among residents about the air noise reporting process.

However, Wimmer praised one Bedford South Road neighborhood resident for providing such precise information (date, time, location, and noise description) that it’s always easy to link specific aircraft with her air noise disturbance reports, and said he wished more people were like her.  He explained that he gets many calls from local residents saying, “Some kind of aircraft was flying over my house between three and four o’clock in the afternoon,” and added, “I can’t really do anything with that.” Of note,  Hanscom Field had 9,693 total daytime flight operations for March 2021.

Mitchell asked fellow Commission members, “Is there a role for HFAC to play in helping the community provide better data to Massport when they submit noise complaints? Can we put out some PSA saying, ‘Hey, are you concerned about noise?  When you call this number, try to be as specific as possible.’ ”

Margaret Coppe, HFAC member and South Lexington Civic Association representative, also suggested HFAC ask local towns to post on their websites how-to information on reporting air noise disturbances.

Commission members discussed using local newspapers as additional community resources to get the word out through all possible channels so that specific reports “can be handled with more rigor.”

“Don’t discount public information messages,” HFAC Chair Christopher Eliot of Lincoln advised, adding, “You think they have no effect, but they do.”

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