Virtual planes don’t generate noise complaints |

Virtual planes don’t generate noise complaints

Truckee Tahoe Airport’s next big idea in noise abatement is giving pilots a chance to fly without leaving the ground.

The Airport Community Advisory Team, Tuesday, talked over the idea of purchasing a virtual flight simulator to actually eliminate airplane noise, while allowing pilots to hone their skills.

“The military and airlines use simulators for training because it’s cheap and safe, but for us it would also create a real reduction of noise,” said Kevin Bumen, head of noise and business operations.

The simulator would give pilots-in-training experience without having to take-off and land over populated areas, and could account for a portion of their required training, Bumen said.

Established pilots could also use the simulator to stay current and practice noise reduction techniques without having to fly, he said.

Airport Manager Dave Gotschall said pilots are required to do three take-offs and landings every 90 days to stay current. By shifting those required operations to a simulator the airport could experience a significant reduction in noise annoyance.

While complaints regarding most types of noise have been decreasing, “touch-and-go” take-offs and landings used for training have been the only source of increasing complaints, Bumen said, so the simulator could make a big difference in the airport’s noise issues.

“Up to now our efforts have been noise mitigation,” Bumen said. “This would actually be eliminating noise, something we’ve never done.”

If the idea is approved by the board, a simulator that would replicate the inside of a cockpit, with a wrap-around screen to simulate the terrain within a 50-mile radius of Truckee, could be in place by the end of the summer, Gotschall said.

A simulator would cost roughly $500,000, Gotschall said.

The simulator would not only benefit the community through noise reduction, but would also aid pilot safety and community outreach, Bumen said.

“The public could come and see the simulator, and better understand the operations of small planes,” Bumen said.

Other ideas ACAT and the airport board will be developing include continuing the “meet-and-greet” program, in which an airport representative meets with pilots to familiarize them with the airport’s noise abatement programs.

The group also wants to work with Soar Truckee to install more of the lower-volume propellers, Gotschall said.

Bumen said this would expand upon last year’s successful program with Soar Truckee’s airplane known as “The Pickle.”

“It’s a small investment to create a large noise reduction,” Bumen said.

Extending the existing voluntary curfew (from 11 p.m. through 6 a.m.) by an hour on each end, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., as well as implementing “quiet hours” during special events, will also be considered to help reduce noise, Gotschall said.

“It’s a new concept to have a quiet hour when there is a concert in the park or other event,” Gotschall said. “We’d try to restrict flights in certain areas during that time.”

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