The Airport Noise Advisory Committee is beginning to make some noise of its own | SierraSun.com
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The Airport Noise Advisory Committee is beginning to make some noise of its own

Erich Sommer, Sierra Sun

In what many hope is only the preamble to addressing noise complaints from air traffic at Truckee Tahoe Airport, the Airport Noise Advisory Committee has made its first formal recommendation to the airport’s board of directors.

The seven-member committee recommended that a position be created to handle noise complaints and perform community outreach and education.

“We have recommended the board (of directors) hire an ombudsman,” said director Ken Foster, who also chairs the advisory committee.

Currently, noise complaints are directed to an answering machine.

Truckee Tahoe Airport General Manager David Gotschall said the board of directors has approved the advisory committee’s recommendation, and hopes to have the position filled within a month.

But because he didn’t want to “bloat the staff,” Gotschall said he had to eliminate an administrative assistant position at the airport.

Gotschall said the airport receives most of the noise complaints Thursday through Monday, and will try to tailor the position around those peak periods.

Foster said complaints are more common in the summer for “two reasons. One, snow absorbs noise, and two, people don’t have their windows open in the winter.”

But Lynne Larson, one of two alternates on the advisory committee, said the more complex noise issues related to air traffic have yet to be defined, much less addressed.

“We have had three meetings and not defined the problem,” said Larson. “The problem, in my words, is excessive aircraft noise over the residential neighborhoods.”

Gotschall said the airport district and the board can only do so much in handling noise problems and flight patterns.

“We are not going to make the noise go away, but we can manage the mitigating efforts,” said Gotschall. “The airport doesn’t control the airspace above the airport, that is all Federal Aviation Administration’s responsibility.”

Despite that lack of jurisdiction, Larson said the board of directors can take significant steps towards reducing noise, including require noise abatement, limit touch-and-goes (when a plane lands, then takes off again without coming to a stop), impose curfews and limit the type of aircraft that can use the airport.

“They can do that, and certain airports have,” Larson said.

Gotschall said noise abatement is the reason the advisory committee was formed, then added that the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act, passed in 1990, grandfathered in certain procedures, effectively tying the board of directors’ hands in some instances.

“The act basically said the airspace is federal space, not state, not local.”

Gotschall said the board may be able limit practices like touch-and goes, but doesn’t believe it can enforce any new curfews or ban certain types of aircraft.

“An airport can not be discriminatory,” he said. “The way I read (the act), is that you can’t enact a curfew that was not adopted before 1990.”

Larson did praise the advisory committee for not only making the recommendation, but its ability to work together.

“I was really pleased to see that (recommendation). I do want to give the advisory committee credit for that,” she said. “And I think (the committee) is trying to work together. The ‘I’m a pilot, I’m not a pilot’ mentality is not going to happen on this committee.”

Gotschall agreed with Larson’s assessment of the advisory committee.

“I think the committee is being very proactive and provides an additional forum for the public,” he said. “The recommendations that come out of ANAC go directly to the board and it’s worked pretty well.”

“It’s going to take some time to get results to reduce noise in the community,” Larson added.

The Airport Noise Advisory Committee usually meets the fourth Tuesday of every month. However, this month, it will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 4:30 p.m. in the board room at the terminal building.

Two FAA representatives will speak about issues related to palns and procedures in air traffic system.


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