Even the Queen is Distressed with Excessive Aviation Noise

Image

(click on image to view archived copy of the source article)

(click on image to view archived copy of the source article)

The proposed addition of a third parallel runway at Heathrow has been debated for decades. The proposal accommodates airlines, who have created artificial excess need for airline operations because they are using London as a hub in the profitable trans-Atlantic air transport business. The imbalance is obvious: corporations over people, profits over quality of life. Exactly as is happening in so many NextGen impact areas in the U.S.

Sadly, more and more people under the Heathrow flightpaths are being impacted. Indeed, this article notes that Her Majesty the Queen has acquired a sharp ear capable of discerning different aircraft types. She is known to comment ‘747’ or ‘Airbus’, as each overflight interrupts royal conversations at Windsor Castle.

Two Reports Look at Impacts by the Air Freight Industry

Here are copies of two reports done by Rose Bridger and published by AirportWatch. The reports look at the Air Freight industry and its impacts in the UK. Those impacted include not just residents and communities, but also the environment: destruction of wildlife habitat and degradation of our atmosphere. I.e, just as it is in the U.S. and around the world, the fossil fuel consumption for air freight is significant, and is contributing to record CO2 levels and accelerated climate change.

Click on either document below for a scrollable view; PDF copies of the Impact Report or Report Supplement may also be downloaded.

A significant portion of air freight is carried in the cargo holds of passenger airliners. Thus, airports such as London’s Heathrow see additional pressure to max out their schedules. Enmity between airport authorities and impacted residents is only intensified, when public monies are used to promote airport expansion.

(click on image to view related articles at AirportWatch)

A pro-airport billboard, altered by activists. (click on image to view related articles at AirportWatch)

‘In Pursuit of Silence’ – a documentary film

A meditative film by Patrick Shen, ‘In Pursuit of Silence’ will resonate with many who are impacted by aviation noise. There is beauty in natural silence, and we need to structure our lives – including our air commerce – in ways that ensure each of us can benefit from as much natural silence as is possible. Here’s an embed of a movie trailer:

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

(click on image to view source Tweet)

(click on image to view source Tweet)

House Subcommittee on Aviation to Hold 6-15-2016 Hearing on ATC Issues

The House Subcommittee on Aviation, chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), will hold a hearing next week to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) air traffic controller hiring, staffing, and training plans and related issues. Here is a portion of the press release, including times and a list of the four witnesses:20160615scp.. 'FAA’s Air Traffic Controller Hiring, Staffing & Training to be Focus of Hearing' (portion of House Aviation Subcomm Press Release)


The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, under Chair Bill Shuster, has been pushing hard to privatize ATC. Although most controllers are opposed, the NATCA leadership has been offering testimony and news stories that are aimed at getting Congressional approval of ATC privatization. One of the witnesses is Paul Rinaldi, head of NATCA, who has been pressing an absurd point, claiming ATC is using archaic technologies including ‘paper strips’. Another witness, Randy Babbitt, was forced to resign from his position as FAA Administrator when he failed to report an alcohol/driving charge after a Christmas party in 2011; after his abrupt resignation, he was quickly hired by Southwest Airlines.


Below are scrollable PDF files listing the committee members. These may be helpful for identifying speakers during the proceedings. They also can be used to study how powerful Congressional committees are structured, and how severely gerrymandered their districts tend to be (to ensure their reelection).

Click on either of the two images below for a scrollable view; red shows republican members (R) PDF file, blue shows democrat members (D) PDF file.
Aviation Subcommittee members are marked with a blue box around their name. Click on the PDF links to download either list.


UPDATE, 6/15/2016 at 12:23 EDT: — The hearing ended at 12:19. Random notes are viewable on page 2 of this Post. Additional updates will follow.

FAA’s Latest Controller Workforce Plan Shows U.S. Air Traffic Remains Seriously Depressed

People under NextGen routes may be suffering depression due to repetitive airplane noise (and an agency that keeps them powerless to fix the impacts!), but there is another ‘depression’ that is worth looking at. Specifically, the number of takeoffs and landings in the U.S. is substantially below peak years, and showing no evidence of any major recovery.

Here’s a statistic to ponder: for the 504 control towers currently tracked by FAA, annual operations in 2014 were down 45% from the peak year. Further, an analysis of all 516 towers for which FAA offers ATADS data 1990-present shows that the average peak for towers was in early 1998 … more than 18-years ago.

In April, FAA released their latest ‘Controller Workforce Plan’ (CWP). This 60-page document includes a graph, showing both past and projected ATC workload and ATC staffing. Here is a copy of the graph, from the 2016 CWP:

20150919.. Traffic & ATC Staffing graph (from pg.7 of 2016 CWP)

ATC staffing figures as of September 2015 (source: 2016 CWP)

And, for comparison, here are two earlier graphs, from the 2012 CWP and 2009 CWP:

20110924.. Traffic & ATC Staffing graph (from pg.7 of 2012 CWP)

ATC staffing figures as of September 2011 (source: 2012 CWP)

20080927.. Traffic & ATC Staffing graph (from pg.6 of 2009 CWP)

ATC staffing figures as of September 2008 (source: 2009 CWP)

Yellow lines were added to each graph to identify the break point between actual past data and FAA’s future projections. Note that all graphs are indexed to the year 2000. Look closely at these graphs and you will see that:

  • in the 2009 CWP (the oldest of the graphs, at the bottom), traffic had fallen to 87% of Index.
  • in the 2012 CWP, traffic had fallen further, to 77% of Index.
  • in the 2016 CWP, traffic was still at 77% of Index.
  • in the 2009 CWP, FAA properly projected a decline for the first year (we were deep into the economic meltdown related to mortgage scams and the housing bubble), but FAA also projected a robust turnaround after 2009.
  • the robust turnaround never happened. While FAA had projected traffic to grow back to 94% of Index by 2015, the actual data for 2015 remained flat, at 77% of Index.
  • now, in 2016, FAA is being a bit more realistic (projecting a recovery to 85% of Index by the year 2026). But, FAA remains stuck on growth as a given …. with zero regard to history and to other major factors such as fossil-fuel related Climate Change.

So, what we have is a system that is not growing and an agency in denial about that stagnation. Meanwhile, FAA and other players in the Av-Gov Complex are insisting we must spend more money upgrading from World War II technologies, to accommodate record traffic levels.

Hey, Michael Huerta and Anthony Foxx, give us all a break; demand accountability within your rogue agency, and immediately revert to pre-NextGen departures and arrivals, so residents can recover from their sleep loss!


See also:
  • As a resource, aiREFORM has archived copies of all FAA’s CWPs that were found online. To view/download, click here.

NextGen Brings Us ‘Noise Canyons’

A recent tweet shared a new term: ‘Noise Canyons’. Evidently, the UK aviation authority, CAA, has adopted this term to describe the narrow corridors on the ground that are most impacted by newly deployed precision airline routes.

(click on image to view source tweet by @bakerainlondon)

(click on image to view source tweet by @bakerainlondon)

The image above comes from page 7 of the 17-page report, ‘Airspace Change Process & Airspace Trials in the context of Modernising UK Airspace’. Here’s a link to an archived copy of the report, which was created by Dr. Darren Rhodes, Head of the Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD) at UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The report is well worth studying, even in the U.S., as the technologies as well as the implementation strategies (and failures) are of a global scope.

Why Are We Seeing These New ‘Noise Canyons’?

Under the ‘NextGen’ label, FAA (and in the UK, CAA) is using GPS-based aircraft automation systems to set up new routes, ostensibly to trim a few more miles, to shorten flight routes to the absolute minimum distances possible. In reality, the NextGen program is just a wholesale abandonment of the noise mitigation procedures that have existed for decades to minimize noise and pollution impacts upon community residents.

Of course, GPS has been effectively used for more than two decades. Moreover, GPS was preceded by inertial navigational systems, which have allowed airlines/ATC to use long direct routes for more than four decades. Despite this fact, the industry propaganda being foisted by Av-Gov complex players keeps trying to fool elected officials and the general public into believing NextGen has ‘benefits’ such as the straightening of routes. That is bunk. The only ‘shortening’ is happening near the airports, and ONLY due to wholesale abandonment of decades-old noise mitigation procedures.

And one more thing: the shortening near airports is often for naught. Time and time again, online flight tracking websites are showing enroute delays at cruise altitude. The real problem is simply overscheduling at major hub airports; i.e., FAA and other aviation regulators are doing nothing to stop airlines from trying put too many arrivals into too little time. When the arrival queue becomes too full, ATC needs to issue delays; so, flights are routinely issued large turns while cruising at altitude, to delay their arrival.

Silly, isn’t it. If FAA really wanted to minimize distances flown and fuel burned, the solution is easy: scale back the hub airports to flow rates that ensure enroute delays are needed only in the most extreme situations (not hourly, not hourly, but perhaps every few months or so).

The ‘All in the Mind’ Podcast on Aircraft Noise & Mental Health

(click on image to listen to source podcast)

A screencap showing recent tweets related to ‘aircraft noise and mental health’ (click on image to listen to source podcast)

QUOTE

“…It actually blights your home. It’s the intrusion, principally, it’s the disturbance that it causes to your life and your well-being, and it’s difficult to relax. We’re on edge subconsciously, to some extent. There’s an anticipatory element to it, when you didn’t know quite when they were going to stop or when they were going to start again. And you then find out that you’re actually powerless…..”

– a comment by a UK aviation noise victim, during the radio interview

BBC’s radio show, ‘All in The Mind’, hosted by Claudia Hammonds, recently included an excellent presentation on the mental health impacts of aircraft noise. A few hours was spent creating a transcription, posted below:

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

For people impacted by aviation noise, the damage is more than doubled when the ‘system’ discounts their complaints and attacks each noise victim with a ‘gee, what is the matter with YOU?’ stance. Thus, science confirming noise impact concerns is validating to noise victims, even liberating.

Today’s FAA is completely failing to ‘balance’ airline/industry profits with community livability. FAA became coopted years ago; this failed regulatory agency is ‘all in for Aviation Commerce’.

What we clearly need, in the UK and in the U.S., is to have this balance restored. Here in the U.S., a good first step would be to waste no more time and take away from FAA the oversight responsibility for aviation noise impacts. We need to restore EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC), which was abruptly defunded in early 1981.


See also:

Unspinning the Spin: A Liberal Rant by the Conservative Wall Street Journal

It is bad enough that the mainstream media tries every trick in the book to manipulate the outcome of our major elections … and, more often than not, they succeed. Their greed and power know no boundaries. No surprise, then, that the media applies these same propaganda tactics to prop up industries and bogus programs, such as NextGen and the Av-Gov Complex co-conspirators’ latest stab at privatizing ATC.

A new opinion piece was published yesterday by the Wall Street Journal editors. One reader’s comments summarize it very well: “…Although I think the FAA is completely inept and has bungled the NextGen rollout on all levels, some of the WSJ’s statements were very unfair (aka the old ‘World War II technology’ argument), and I fear the airlines being in charge even more.”

Another reader’s comments are drawn from his profession, as an airline pilot with extensive knowledge about labor and aviation politics:

“This article has absolutely nothing in it except for many errors and convenient omissions. For example, the comparison to the 1960’s is totally inaccurate because today all aircraft have the ability to fly direct, point-to-point with GPS and other similar navigation devices that all airliners have, even the “older” ones. The United States has complete, 100% radar coverage, so the statements referring to enroute delays are totally incorrect. Plus, it states that Schuster’s proposal “isn’t perfect” without pointing out what those imperfections are.

This is “airline deregulation” all over again, but this time targeting ATC. As far as FAA “oversight” goes, just look at the fines the airlines have accumulated for improper maintenance—and those are only the cases that were caught.

The true problem lies in the terminal areas of the busiest airports and neither NextGen nor any other fancy-sounding baloney has come even close to resolving that. All it has done is increase the noise levels for airport neighbors.”

Here’s a PDF of aiREFORM’s analysis of the WSJ piece, with numerous rebuttal notes added as footnotes:

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

Clearly, this will not be the last of an ongoing series of lame propaganda pieces. The collusion by members of the Av-Gov Complex – called a ‘collaboration’ – will not end until they pull off yet another change that serves industry profits at the expense of everyone else. A Congress weakened and compromised by too much focus on fundraising may eventually capitulate to this fraudulent campaign.

FAA Offers $10 Million Giveaway to Buy Support for NextGen

The NextGen program that is destroying communities while supplementing airline profits has been needing more money to advance further. But, the program is seeing increasing resistance, especially from impacted homeowners. So, in order to garner more support and create the appearance of public acceptance needed to convince Congress to invest more public money into NextGen, FAA has announced an investment of $10,000,000 to subsidize ADS-B Out installations on small aircraft.

(click on image to view source article at AOPA.org)

(click on image to view source article at AOPA.org)

The new program will rebate up to $500 per aircraft to as many as 20,000 owners, which FAA believes to be roughly one-eighth of eligible aircraft. Bear in mind, rebate eligibility is restricted to single-piston-engine, fixed-wing aircraft that have not yet added this equipment, which FAA is requiring no later than January 2020, for all pilots who want to access ‘busier’ airspace. In other words, while NextGen is a program aimed at serving the airlines, FAA is directing its supposedly scarce resources to the lowest performing, personal-use aircraft … the vast majority of which will never have an urgent need to fly near any of our thirty busiest airline airports.

As some of the smarter online commenters have noted, what usually happens when a federal subsidy is announced is the industry jacks up the price of the product/service being subsidized. And also commonly, the subsidy is just a ‘gift’ for a huge number of recipients who had already planned to purchase the product/service anyway. So, in total, it is effectively FAA giving $10 Million to the aviation electronics industry. As if on queue, the aviation media reports that alphabet-group lobbyists are ‘applauding’.

20160607scp.. portion of article re $500 ADS-B subsidy, alphabet groups (GANews)

(click on image to view source article at GANews)

Congress never put this $10 Million scheme through an appropriation process. Congress never authorized this substantial expenditure. This $10 Million is just FAA, acting arbitrarily and on its own, as a lobbyist seeking to tip to the balance toward more NextGen funding by Congress. Which begs the question: if FAA has $10 Million or more to arbitrarily spend, how else might they spend OUR money to serve the Public?

How Might FAA Better Invest $10 Million?

Here’s two simple ideas (readers are encouraged to share their ideas, too!):

  1. for the NextGen-impacted people of Phoenix, offer a small subsidy to the airlines to fly the old departure routes out of KPHX. Try this for just 2-months, pay Southwest and American a couple million tops to cover their added cost, and see what it does to noise complaints and residential quality of life.
  2. for the NextGen-impacted people in the NYC area, take advantage of the current major project to upgrade the LaGuardia terminal (at KLGA). This is a great opportunity for a ‘test’. For a period of at least 6-months, get the airlines to voluntarily reduce their daily schedule by say 25%, and hourly flow rates to say a maximum of 25 takeoffs per hour. With these lower and more manageable KLGA traffic levels, revert to the old (and since-abandoned) noise abatement departures such as Whitestone Climb. Get the airlines to voluntarily make this happen, then see what a scaled-down LaGuardia does to improve efficiencies and reduce impacts for both JFK and Newark. The results may be surprising.

Wrong Place for an Unneeded Runway, Yet FAA Pushes On

KJMR.20160521.. crop of 'swans lifting off, crosswind RWY proposal area'

Two swans lifting off from a pond (and disturbing a loon) in Mora, MN. FAA is supplying public funds aimed at filling this pond to ADD a runway… at an airport with zero value as part of the National Airspace System (NAS), and averaging fewer than 5 takeoffs per day!

Mora, Minnesota is a small town and the seat of Kanabec County, at a crossroads in the center of a triangle connecting Minneapolis, Duluth, and St. Cloud. This is an area of quiet farms on glacial soils: tilled lands and pastures and small native woodlots, alternating with very many ponds and wetlands.

KJMR.20160604cpy.. satview with runways-ponds marked

The airport is along the northeast edge of town, surrounded by farmland and ponds.

Waterfowl thrive here; thus, any airport development is only increasing the likelihood of a potentially fatal collision with waterfowl. Clearly, it makes no sense to build airports or add runways unless there is a compelling need, and there is no such need at Mora.

KJMR.20150915cpy.. waterfowl at N-S runway pic2

The current north-south runway at Mora sees more gull landings in a single day than it sees plane landings per year. This photo taken September 2015.

KJMR.20160314cpy.. pic of butternut leaf, juglans_cinerea_001

(click on image to view further information about Juglans cinerea)

That does not stop FAA from pushing for further airport development at KJMR. In this case, a full twenty years ago, an airport neighbor with a plant nursery was told some of his family’s land would be taken, for the construction of a new crosswind runway. Natural terrain would be destroyed – including the destruction of habitat and numerous seedlings for an endangered Minnesota tree: the butternut.

To try and justify the waste, airport and FAA officials were both complicit in using one of their oldest tricks: documenting a lie. Public money gets spent, paying aviation contractors to create official-looking reports with claims that routinely exceed realities, both in terms of actual past airport usage, and likely future airport usage. Below are two letters, from 2011 and 2003, contradicting the exaggerated airport usage data:

KJMR.undated.. LTE questioning accuracy of reported airport usage (B.Burk, 1p)

A statement by a concerned citizen with an office adjacent to the runway, about airport usage estimates he believes are grossly exaggerated. (April 2011)

KJMR.2003est~.. LTE disputing need for airport expansion (D. Johnson, former mayor, pilot, 1p)

Another letter disputing the exaggerated airport usage estimates. This one was written in 2003 by a former town mayor who also happens to be a pilot.

All of this mess was created by (and continues to be perpetuated by) two different federal funds. A first federal grant was used to entice local officials to close the original crosswind runway, allowing that land along the edge of town to become available for light industrial use. The second federal grant was FAA money, derived primarily from taxes on airline passengers, to be used to buy land, fill a wetland, and construct a replacement runway. Of course, officials have completely ignored that the industrial park never really caught on. But that is beside the point, since the real original objective was to make a small injection of federal money into the local community, and in the process help a few elected officials look good, to bolster their odds at reelection.

City leaders would like to abandon the plans, but they accepted and used FAA grants years ago, and now are in the position of either continuing the project or paying that money back to FAA. The project was not needed when the grant was accepted, and it is needed even less today.

The critically important fact – that the crosswind runway was never needed and continues to not be needed – has been carefully ignored by FAA and elected officials. Additionally, the runway will be entirely unusable much of the year as the plan is to spend millions creating a turf without lighting. And so, it is up to local residents, especially the farm family facing land condemnation and destruction of the quality of their home, to speak up and try to stop yet another wasteful aviation project.

Notably, too, this entire situation would immediately resolve, if FAA would simply accept the reality, that needs change, and release the city from obligations on past wasted grants. This is a classic example of the bad that happens when an agency has too much extra money to spend (in this case, collected from airline passengers) and gets carried away using that money to expand power and serve politicians. There is an extraordinary opportunity here for valuable constituent services: will at least one of the Minnesota federal representatives step up to the plate and save this habitat from FAA’s wasteful project?
KJMR.. pond, 2 swans, 1 loon


See also:
  • aiREFORM – a webpage with further information, including copies of other documents about KJMR.
  • MinnesotaSeasons.com – Nice website with nature info for the whole state; see the videos, too. See this link for further info on the butternut.