Truckee airport updates noise policies | SierraSun.com

Truckee airport updates noise policies

Scott Hess

Realizing its noise policies were out of date, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District organized a committee to study noise patterns, and recently released updated policies and flight procedures.

The noise advisory committee that was organized in spring 2001 recommended 16 initiatives to the board of supervisors, airport assistant general manager Mike Scott said.

One plan they came up with was a map for pilots, which shows the basic features of the Town of Truckee – including the residential areas – and provides color-coded flight routes. These routes show the paths with the least amount of disturbance to the residential neighborhoods, Scott said. The map was released in early July and has been distributed since.

Available at the airport, TTAD’s Web site and through Airguide Publications, Scott and general manager David Gotschall said the flight map can easily be carried on a plane. The map was distributed to all of the airport’s tenants, and they have also started an outreach program, Scott said.

“For every two noise calls we get, my goal is to have one unsolicited outreach contact,” Scott said. Also, he said if the airport can identify what plane essentially caused a complaint, he will mail the map and procedures to the pilot.

In its monthly noise report for June 20 to July 17, TTAD reported there were 48 noise calls – down from 55 the month before – and completed 25 outreach contacts. The report also mentioned the airport received 13 “new” callers.

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Scott did say, however, sometimes pilots unfamiliar with the area will “miss the ground cues” and fly off the desired flight path. He said it’s not unlike driving a car in a new area, “slowing down and speeding up, trying to find the right address.”

Another way noise is being reduced at the airport is technological advances in jet engineering. Although Gotschall said jet flights to the airport have doubled in the last few years, the noise has actually reduced.

One problem they cannot alleviate, however, is what pilots do once they are airborne. “When the airplane is one inch off the ground, we don’t control it,” Scott said. According to him, the FAA controls the airspace and can instruct a pilot to change their flight path. Scott said because TTAD does not have an air traffic control tower, it can only regulate the takeoff and landing of airplanes.

“Situations arise with air traffic conflicts, one plane going faster or slower,” he said. If they had a control tower, though, Scott said it would be a double-edged sword, reducing conflicts, but potentially creating more traffic.

The airport has also tried to limit operations to and from the airport between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Gotschall said they do not offer services during those hours, and many pilots do not fly during those hours because it is hard to see in the mountains.

Scott added with the last 100-or-so calls they have received, only two have been during the off times, and both were between 5:30 and 6 a.m.

TTAD also holds public community forums to discuss airport business. The next forum pertaining to noise will be held Sept. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the airport terminal.

For more information on the airport and its noise policies, or for a copy of the desired flight routes, visit http://www.truckeetahoeairport.com.