Petition against Noise Abatement Procedure

Speech made to the Airport Advisory Board October 10, 2002 by Chris Rodriguez

Tonight I’d like to present to the Board the signatures of 214 people who signed a petition that was at Airwest, Twin Peaks, and Mile Hi Skydiving. The petition reads, “I, the undersigned, am against the current Vance Brand Noise Abatement Procedures, specifically flying a wide pattern with a large noise footprint, and an unsafe distance (the railroad tracks) from the airport. I ask that the Airport Advisory Board remove this current procedure from the Airport Master Plan and come back with a procedure similar to the 1992 NA plan. I am in favor of SAFE Noise Abatement Procedures that are considerate to our neighbors, with a tight close-in pattern to reduce the noise footprint to the greater community.”

It appears the Board has come back with a better alternative which makes this petition a moot point. When this new amended procedure gets approved tonight, with some possible modifications, this petition will no longer be circulated. I would however like this petition put into the record as these people need to know their signatures and their time were not wasted, and their concerns were responded to by the Mayor, the Board, and city staff. For that we all thank you, and I thank the petition signers as well.

The biggest change obviously is a tight pattern ½ to ¾ of a mile from the runway on each downwind. Also the pattern has been raised from 800 feet AGL to 1,000 feet AGL. What’s 200 feet? When you are coming into the pattern from above, not much. When you are remaining in the pattern doing pattern work, it’s that much longer to get to pattern altitude. The longer you climb, the more power you carry, and the more noise you will make. On most above average temperature days some aircraft will be starting their descent from downwind before they even reach 1,000′ AGL.

Raising the turn to crosswind from 500 feet AGL to 700 feet AGL is more troublesome than the 1,000 foot pattern altitude. The idea was to raise this number by the same 200 feet as the pattern altitude, but there are more problems with it. This number is just 100 feet lower than the old traffic pattern altitude of 800 feet. Most aircraft turn crosswind at 500 feet AGL. It is a point at which an aircraft can USUALLY make a complete 180 degree turn and POSSIBLY make it back to the runway. Some feel lower than that is too low to pull off such a maneuver. So what could be wrong with being even higher? More glide time, right? Not that simple. It’s not as if you’ll reach that 700 foot AGL altitude at the same location as the 500 foot AGL altitude, you’ll now be that much FURTHER from the airport. And in the case of Longmont, should put you right around Hover & Nelson intersection.

I am aware that in the Airman’s Information Manual in Paragraph 4-3-3 in the example it states “If remaining in the traffic pattern, commence turn to crosswind leg beyond the departure end of the runway within 300 feet of pattern altitude.” But this is not an F.A.R.. In the previous Noise Abatement Procedure it read “departures straight out to 500 feet AGL before turning.” It is not mandatory if the downwind goes up that this number should also. At this altitude, asking for 700 feet before crosswind and a 1,000 foot pattern may really be pushing it for your typical 150-180 horse powered airplane. I request it stay at 500 feet.

The comment about the airport receiving over 100 complaints each year does not need to be included in this procedure unless the whole story is told. 85%-90% of those are made by one outspoken opponent of the airport. Take that away and you have about 15 or so legitimate complaints a year! That is an admirable record. Even if you throw in half of one mans complaints you still only have about 55 complaints a year, that’s about 1 per week! Most airports would probably love a record like this to boast about. Any reference to the complaints should be deleted from the Noise Abatement Procedure, at least in the negative sense.

It would be nice if this procedure could all fit on one 8½ x 11 piece of paper, and it looks possible now that it appears that much of the unnecessary filler has been removed from it. This would make distribution simpler and cheaper. This amended procedure should be shown to the public at the upcoming community meeting, and to the City Council when the Master Plan update is presented, to show that the airport is indeed interested in being a good neighbor, and that it’s users and advisory board are proactive in making positive change. This in some small way may help further the image of the airport, and that its intentions are good, and that the board is acting in good faith. Some neighbors have expressed that they don’t currently feel that way.

Back in August I asked if the City and the Board were more concerned with the good of one over the good of the many. By the looks of the amended procedure before you, it looks like the best course for the majority of the city citizens and the airport users is being chosen. Once again, I thank those involved with making this happen and offer my support in distributing this procedure, either on paper or on the internet.

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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