Airplane Noise — Massport R-NAV Hearing/Forum (40 Responses)

Massport Notice

Massport will host an informational and input hearing regarding the R-NAV Study.

Representatives from Massport, the FAA, the R-NAV Study MIT Team and the Massport Community Advisory Committee will be presenting.

WHEN: Wednesday ,February 22nd, 2017 6:00– 8:00PM

WHERE: State Transportation Building Conference Room, 10 Park Plaza Boston

This meeting will discuss the scope and methodology of the study on ways to reduce airplane noise announced in this post.

This is an issue that we have been working hard on for some time. For more background, please see this thread of my posts on the subject.

Presentation Materials from Meeting

I wasn’t actually to able attend the meeting myself, but I did previously have the opportunity to speak with the presenters.

In a nutshell, the study that they are conducting seeks to look at the possibility of reducing the concentrated impact of take off noise by (a) spreading planes around spatially (partially reversing the current trend towards concentrated navigation); (b) moving planes to routes that disturb fewer people (water); (c) keeping the planes up higher or getting them high earlier; (d) “speed drag management”. See page 30 of the presentation — link below.

They aren’t promising that any of these ideas will work, but they are going to give them all careful study.

Here is a link to their presentation.

Extended Comment from Myron Kassaraba

Thanks Senator Brownsberger for your steadfast support that has helped facilitate the Massport RNAV Study. For those of you who are just coming to this issue – this has been a long road for the past almost four years and progress has been slow and often frustrating. We are finally getting what we have been asking for – that the 33L RNAV SID procedure implemented in June of 2013 be reexamined and alternatives such as dispersion and getting planes higher faster are being explored and considered.

The 33L effort led by CAC Reps from Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge and Watertown has been focused, consistent, persistent, data-driven and supported by numerous local officials, State Legislators (thank you Reps Dave Rogers and Jon Hecht) our Congressional delegation and with the strong activism and advocacy from the Boston West Fair Skies citizen’s group (thanks to Adriana Poole and others) – not to mention the extensive data analysis and visualization by Kent Johnson and more recently Luke Preisner. The scope of the study is limited to looking at RNAV procedures at Logan. New RNAV procedures implemented in 2013 introduced the now well-documented “rails” of concentration of departing flights over populated communities to the west (R33L in June 2013) and south (R27 in March 2013) of Boston. Many communities and neighborhoods were in the footprint of these departures prior to the implementation of RNAV. Post implementation there are those in that previous footprint that now have the “rails” and are more impacted and those who don’t have the “rails” are less impacted. The lens of fairness and equity in the case of a specific procedure has to do with the distribution and sharing of the burden/impact in the footprint from that procedure.

As Chris Marchi from East Boston has mentioned – it did not change things appreciably for closer-in communities that have always had a rail over them. RNAV is also not all bad as the precision can be used to route planes away from land and over water or unpopulated areas. Residents in Hull are asking for flights to be shifted further over the harbor to avoid flying directly over their peninsula and that too is part of the study.

The RNAV Study is a major step taken by Massport with support from the FAA to respond to specific issues with procedures at Logan. There are many issues that were brought up at the meeting last Wednesday and in these comments here that are important but are not in the scope of the RNAV Study. These include noisy planes (A320 whine, old MD80’s), potential increases in flight volume – especially in the afternoon and late evening hours from more international flights (to be made more attractive by the expansion of Terminal E), increases in overnight operations that are encroaching on sleep and ways to decrease repetitive use of runway configurations. Health impacts of stress from noise, lack of sleep and air pollution are also very important considerations – especially to those with the greatest levels of exposure. For communities like East Boston – there are also on-the-ground impacts like traffic beyond just planes overhead.

Potential remedies for RNAV concentration may be challenging to implement. I am hopeful that the examination by the team at MIT will be comprehensive in exploring alternatives and that there will be more opportunities like last week for the study team to interact with the public and elected officials as options are considered. Once options are proposed – it will be up to the FAA to implement them.

Among the best things to come from the meeting last week was the realization that for every issue that one community or neighborhood is experiencing – there is another group of residents in the region that is experiencing their own issue. Looking at specific procedural issues introduced by new RNAV flight paths is important and necessary but should be pursued in parallel with the other concerns that are equally important that are having an impact on the health and quality of life for people in the region. We should all be working together to more fully understand these various issues and to seek solutions.

Myron Kassaraba
Town of Belmont Representative, Logan CAC & Massport CAC

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