Airport takes action on noise | SierraSun.com

Airport takes action on noise

David Bunker, Sierra Sun

Several people’s overarching criticism of the Truckee Tahoe Airport Board has been that it only lists what it cannot do about airport noise and never takes action on what it can do.

On Tuesday, however, the board responded to the public outcry by expanding noise procedures already in place, and ensuring more pilots are educated on noise-sensitive flight paths.

The board lengthened its summertime noise abatement education program to a year-round schedule and agreed to buy three traffic counters that will guarantee a more accurate reading of aircraft activity.

They also will write a letter to the Soar Truckee glider operation, discouraging tow planes from flying over Truckee and Donner Lake for sightseeing, and will tape a noise advisory for incoming and outgoing high-noise aircraft.

The year-round extension of the pilot education program was an easy decision, as the summertime program has garnered praise from pilots and locals alike.

Airport Board President Ken Foster noted, from his observation, that during the summer pilots fly the correct, noise abatement patterns 90 percent of the time, while in the winter they only adhere to the pattern about 50 percent of the time.

The other board members agreed that a year-round program would be much more effective.

“There is nothing better than positive reinforcement to change behavior,” said Board member Michael Golden. “It is a disservice to the community not to have the program year-round.”

The addition of three air traffic counters, which will cost about $25,000, should clear up discrepancy over how much traffic Truckee Tahoe Airport receives each year. Currently airport records (which do not count glider-towing operations) differ with Caltrans estimates by more than 30,000 operations per year.

There were several other items that residents suggested could lessen noise impacts that the airport board did not adopt. One suggestion was to shorten service hours at the airport from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Current service hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The board actually considered lengthening hours to have an employee at the airport at all times for security reasons, but failed to make any changes in the hours at the meeting.

Members also declined to raise landing fees for transient aircraft (non-local planes). Truckee’s landing fees are substantially lower than comparable airports such as Minden and South Lake Tahoe. Truckee charges between $8 – $40 depending on the plane’s weight. Minden’s rates run from $25 – $75 for the same aircraft types.

The board doubted that raising rates would deter non-local pilots from coming to the airport.

A likely hot topic in the future will be the construction of a control tower at the airport. The board decided a control tower was not necessary at this time, but seriously discussed its safety benefits. Several airport-area residents support a control tower at the airport for safety and noise reasons.