Truckee, CA. – Noise Becoming Focal Point

Thursday, April 5, 2007
Airport looking at more ways to reduce noise
Airport district aims for summer noise impact reductions
By Greyson Howard
The Truckee (CA) Sierra Sun

Truckee Tahoe Airport is exploring new ways to minimize noise from local air traffic. Looking toward the busy summer season, both the airport district’s board of directors and the Airport Community Advisory Team are considering a variety of solutions that could be in place this year, as well as further down the road. Potential mitigations include changing procedures, enhancing airport monitoring and replacing old equipment, said Kevin Bumen, the airport’s head of noise and business operations. Building on the successful noise reduction achieved by replacing the propeller on Sour Truckee’s tow-plane known as “The Pickle,” Bumen said the airport may install equipment on training aircraft that cuts noise on some of the airport’s busiest planes.

“If we are going to create a noise benefit with things like propellers and exhaust, that’s the place to start,” Bumen said. “It’s the most benefit for the investment for the airport.”

He said the airport will also look into expanding its video monitoring, which will allow staff to track how many pilots are complying with the airport’s voluntary curfew and other regulations.

Building on an existing program, Bumen said the airport district may expand their pilot incentive program.

“Right now we have a quiz on the Internet on noise procedures. Pilots who pass get full-service fuel at self-service prices. So far that’s been successful,” Bumen said.

In contrast, the airport is also exploring the legality of an “environmental fee” that could charge noisy aircraft more money, he said.

The airport’s noise-abatement procedures, which specify different flight paths in and out of Truckee Tahoe Airport to minimize noise impacts on populated areas, will be reviewed and may see major revision, said Airport Manager Dave Gotschall.

“If we change it, we would be moving where the noise is,” Gotschall said.

Dispersing flight paths instead of concentrating them is another option that could spread noise out over a larger area, instead of focusing it in smaller areas, Gotschall said.

But Gotschall said dispersion may not actually spread airplane noise out, because pilots following Federal Aviation Agency standards would likely all fly over the Ponderosa-Palisades area.

Physical alterations of the airport that could minimize noise include decreasing runway widths, installing visual aid lights, and changing touch-down points on the runways.

But changing the touch-down points (effectively shortening the runway), or narrowing the runway could cause pilots to come in lower and create more noise, Gotschall said.

The board recently elected to keep the same runway width, but have yet to address any changes in where pilots should touch down.

Potential noise abatements for 2007

  • Meet and greet: Staff conversations with pilots to familiarize them with the airport’s noise abatement program.
  • Cameras: Video monitoring of airport usage and compliance with curfew.
  • Sign upgrades: Signs along runways to remind pilots of noise procedures.
  • Equipment modifications: Less noisy propellers and exhaust on training planes.
  • Flight clinics: Seminars for flight procedures in the mountains at altitude.
  • Environmental fee: For noisier airplanes (If found legal and feasible).

    Editor’s Note: “Environmental fee:” sounds unfriendly to me, and how is “noisier airplane” defined???

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