Flying Friendly by Ed Rosiak

July August 2003 Cal PIlots Newsletter

by Ed Rosiak

On Good Friday I happened to be at a golf course, which is located directly under the approach path of San Jose?s Reid Hillview 30L and 30R. I would estimate that it was four miles out. I spent more time looking up then watching where the heck my ball ended up. I have to admit that I was surprised at the amount of traffic this day, although there have been times when waiting for departure, or approaching to land, that it felt like all of the pilots in Northern California were there. This days busy traffic load was no doubt a result of the Easter Weekend getaway. What occurred to me was that the constant flow of aircraft was in fact?noisy. Not just high performance singles and twins, or the ear busting Cessna 180/185?s either. Reid Hillview is a hornet?s nest of training activity which means lots Cessna’s and Cherokee?s amongst others. I had no problem hearing them. There I was, a pilot trying to golf, noticing what many airport neighbors constantly complain about–noise.

It started me thinking what we, as pilots, can do to help mitigate the noise issue. Perhaps the first place to start is to recognize that there is a problem. We have to admit it, and address it. We can?t continue with the ?the airport was here first? argument. That argument is getting old and long term will become a loosing strategy. As a start, we have to learn to fly friendlier using any means we can, or else. How does one fly friendly you say? Good question. There are a number of answers.

First, we pilots have to enhance our skills. Landings can be difficult maneuvers, and require practice. Landing at busy airports have always been a sit up in the seat pay attention activity for me. I try to fly a ?stabilized approach? to every landing. During a stabilized approach the aircraft is set up to intercept the VASI (or the visual clues you use), by making minor adjustments to power and flaps to stay on speed, at the appropriate glide path, with a minimum noise. Dragging an aircraft in on final for a landing is a decibel maker and shouldn?t be done for safety reasons first, and noise issues second. If you currently don?t fly stabilized approaches to landing, schedule some flying with your favorite CFI. Find a quiet field and practice some power off landings to get a good feel of the aircraft and then try the stabilized approach to landing. Training is a good investment and pays dividends in the long run. Those of you flying high performance aircraft can also consider holding off pushing the prop forward until short final which will also cut down on the noise.

Future technology may help too. Newer propeller designs are addressing the problem by adding blades. We all know that the prop tip speed is what causes the noise issue during takeoff, or whenever running high power in low pitch. There are many three blade prop STC?s for Cessna, Beech and Pipers. The Experimental movement is leading the way in this area. I am told that my Lancair ES is fairly quiet on takeoff. This is interesting as my turbo charged engine is not muffled at all. I do have an MT four blade prop though. Finally, the manufacturers of the loudest GA aircraft should be actively performing analysis to determine the issues involved with reducing RPM as soon as possible, after a normal takeoff is assured. The dangers of normal over-squared constant speed prop operation were disproved long ago.

New quieter operational procedures are in order. Let?s hope that the manufacturers take a lead role in this area. Meanwhile, we all need to do what we can to keep our airport neighbors as happy as we can. ?Blue Skies??.Ed