New team members for airport outreach | SierraSun.com

New team members for airport outreach

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

A new group of residents and pilots will be joining the Truckee Tahoe Airport District’s public outreach team.

The airport district board Thursday elected six Airport Community Advisory Team members out of eleven candidates. Of the three pilots and three non-pilots elected at the board meeting, two members previously served on the advisory team established in 2005.

“ACAT’s biggest role is to interface with the community,” said Airport General Manager Dave Gotschall. “The new people will have to come up to speed and take the time to review everything the first members put out.”

Gotschall said the team takes on issues that include noise concerns, community relations, land use, and airport growth.

Kevin Bumen, head of noise and business operations for the airport, said the ACAT is an outreach and research group that finds and studies issues faced by the airport, making recommendations to the board and staff to take actions.

One aspect of the noise issue ACAT will be considering is the flight paths the airport created to minimize flights over the more populated areas, Gotschall said.

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“ACAT needs to find out if we are asking the pilots to do the right thing, now that they are doing what we are asking,” Gotschall said.

Bumen said ACAT has performed a great deal of technical work looking into what needs to be done to implement an airport curfew or use-restriction, but found the federal process would likely prohibit such an action.

The new ACAT will have its first meeting March 13; the 2005-appointed ACAT will continue to work together until then, Gotschall said.

The team will then elect a chairperson, and decide which members will commit to 12- or 24-month terms, in order to stagger when members leave and experienced members stay on, Gotschall said.

“The concept was so we don’t have complete turnover,” Gotschall said.

Gaylan Larson, Tom Van Berkem, and Don McCormack were elected to represent the non-pilot community, while Hardy Bullock, Wolfgang Dirks, and Pat Northrop are the pilots on the team.

Van Berkem and McCormack are the only two members to have served on the previous Airport Community Advisory Team.

Van Berkem, the current co-chair of ACAT, said during Thursday’s ACAT election he felt there is a place on the new team for both experienced members and newcomers.

Northrop, who grew up in the area, said ACAT should also look at potential future issues, not just those immediately facing the team.

“ACAT needs to explore future issues that may crop up, such as helicopters,” Northrop said.