[KSMO]: No Runway Protection Zones, in Stark Contrast with Other Airports

kuao-201205-rpz-rwy-17-on-satview-w-dimensions-showing-trees-later-removed

The green trapezoid delineates an RPZ at the north end of the Aurora Airport, near Portland, OR. This RPZ, similar in size to what is needed to accommodate charter jets at Santa Monica, measures 500ft by 1010ft by 1700ft long. As is the case nearly everywhere, all obstructions were removed from this RPZ: there are no structures within the trapezoid, and the lines of trees have all since been removed (not even stumps are allowed… they are considered too dangerous).

A Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) is a trapezoidal space, positioned at the ends of all runways, designed to create a safety buffer for when aircraft fail to stay on the runway. Santa Monica has no meaningful RPZs. In fact, despite lots of searching, I have not been able to find any other U.S. airport with hundreds of homes standing inside the RPZ. The vast majority of U.S. airports have ZERO homes standing inside the RPZs.

This graphic illustrates where the Santa Monica RPZs would be, if FAA applied its safety standards there:

ksmo-20161223-rpzs-rwys-3-21-v2-labels-added

In contrast with the RPZ at KUAO, these safety areas at Santa Monica have hundreds of houses. (click on image for larger view)

Nationally, FAA has generally done a good job on RPZs; they have defined the dimensions, and they have firmly and consistently guided airport authorities to comply with these design standards that are needed to protect pilots, paying passengers and airport neighbors. FAA has thus secured safety control at essentially all airports, but NOT at Santa Monica. There, a close inspection of the RPZs shows approximately 270 homes exist in the Santa Monica RPZs, meaning that the RPZs are, frankly, nonexistent. Here are larger images; try to count the houses yourself:ksmo-20161223-500x1000x1700l-rpz-sw-of-rwys-3-21 ksmo-20161223-500x1000x1700l-rpz-ne-of-rwys-3-21Nice homes, in a beautiful area with the finest weather, yet these people endure air pollution, noise pollution, and the constant fear of an off-airport crash. This makes no sense, and it does not have to be this way.

How Does Santa Monica Compare With Other Airports?

The PDF below presents a compilation of satellite views, comparing airport RPZs for Santa Monica with thirteen other airports in five western states (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada). Each of the airports selected for comparison is noted for heavy use by air charters and private bizjets. Two especially notable conclusions from this analysis are:

  1. homes are virtually never allowed to stand within RPZs, as it is just too dangerous. So, why hasn’t FAA either bought out the homes in the Santa Monica RPZs or, far more pragmatically, simply shut down jet operations there?
  2. if FAA shut down jets at Santa Monica, the capacity to absorb them at larger and safer airports in nearby Van Nuys [KVNY] and Burbank [KBUR] is enormous. As is typical throughout the U.S., both of these airports were built to accommodate traffic levels that have since declined by half.
Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

Hillsboro Airport Hearing in U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The following was received from Oregon Aviation Watch….

A date has been set for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on the Hillsboro Airport third runway challenge. The legal proceedings are open to the public; however the deadline for submitting written and oral testimony has passed.

Date and Time: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 9:00 am
Location: Pioneer Courthouse, 2nd Floor Courtroom
Address: 700 SW 6th Ave., Portland, Oregon 97204

In 2014, when the Port of Portland (Port) moved forward with its plan to build a third runway at Hillsboro Airport (HIO), Oregon Aviation Watch raised legal challenges before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals urging the Court to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the effect of the airport and its expansion on the surrounding community. In keeping with their characteristically cavalier attitude of using public money to subsidize private U.S. and foreign business interests at HIO, the Port proceeded to construct the runway in 2015. In so doing the Port and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opted to ignore, dismiss and minimize the numerous environmental, noise and livability concerns raised by area residents.

The purpose of the runway is primarily to accommodate the for-profit flight training industry largely on behalf of out-of-state investors. One of the major beneficiaries of this arrangement is Hillsboro Aero Academy (formerly Hillsboro Aviation) – a company that recruits students from around the globe then proceeds to train them over area homes and neighborhoods. Per the company website, student pilots enrolled in this program annually log over 70,000 flight hours.[1]

In the 86 years during which HIO has grown from a grassy airstrip into the largest general aviation airport in the state, the Port of Portland has never taken a hard look or engaged in a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the environmental impacts of this facility by completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). As a result the full impact of HIO, which accommodates the largest flight training school in the Pacific Northwest, has never been evaluated. A review of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Port and FAA documentation reveals that HIO is now one of the biggest facility sources in the region of a host of air toxins and unwelcome noise intrusions.

[1] Hillsboro Aero Academy website. Available on-line at http://www.flyhaa.com/about/

…to read more ‘Background Information’ provided by OAW.org, please see page two of this Post…

Please Donate

We are sincerely grateful to all community members who have supported Oregon Aviation Watch in the past. Your willingness to stand behind this effort is sincerely appreciated and your words of encouragement along the way have been invaluable.

We still need to raise additional money. This is an all-volunteer effort. Contributions go directly towards covering legal expenses and related costs. Please give generously. Checks made out to Oregon Aviation Watch can be sent to:

Oregon Aviation Watch
PO Box 838
Banks, Oregon 97106

Contributions can also be made by clicking on the
menu bar Donate button at www.oregonaviationwatch.org.

Activist Erin Brockovich to Speak in East Portland

Image

Saturday, 2 April 2016, from 3:00pm to 7:00pm,
at Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark Street

20160402scp.. See Erin Brokovich (promo for speaking engagement in Portland, OR)

She is not an aviation impact activist (yet!) but her efforts to clean up industrial hazards in California are legendary. The Eastside Portland Air Coalition is offering Erin Brockovich as the keynote speaker for their Community Air Forum. Admission is free.

Hillsboro, Toxic Lead Pollution, and the Next HARE Meeting

During much of the first month of this new year, we have heard news about lead poisoning in the Flint, Michigan water supply. Most recently, we all learned how government workers were provided bottled water to not have to rely on the water soon to be announced as toxic. All of this to save a few bucks, with evident indifference for the health and welfare of the larger community: the residents of Flint.

At the Hillsboro Airport [KHIO] in Oregon, lead has been an ongoing issue. In fact, the Hillsboro Airport officially emits 1,400 pounds of lead into the air, at an airport with numerous nearby residential neighborhoods and even schools. The vast majority of these lead emissions are created by the one airport business that imports students from across the world, and makes a large profit teaching them to fly at KHIO, with tens of thousands of flights circling low over Hillsboro neighborhoods. And, just like happened in Flint, the Port of Portland and the FAA are resisting and delaying changes needed to reduce this dangerous pollutant, all with evident indifference for the health and welfare of the larger community: the residents of Hillsboro.

The February 3rd HARE Meeting

When they have an impact problem such as aviation noise or lead pollution, a common strategy for airport authorities is to create a citizen group.

20130821.. 'Great Quote by Upton SInclair' (screencap of aiREFORM Post)

(click on image to learn more about Upton Sinclair and FAA’s inability to ‘understand’ a controller error at Camarillo)

Such groups typically consist almost entirely of pro-business interests, as well as many who are actual pilots or otherwise economically connected to the airport. And, as noted 80-years ago by Upton Sinclair, such groups have an astonishing inability to fix problems, surpassed by an astonishing ability to serve the status quo.

The airport authority at Hillsboro is the Port of Portland. Years ago they created the ‘Hillsboro Airport Issues Roundtable’, HAIR. For whatever reason (maybe the fact that their group was dominated by old white guys, who tend to have evident follicle-impairment issues?), the name was ‘upgraded’ to HARE, standing for ‘Hillsboro Airport Roundtable Exchange’. At any rate, the group of 22 people meets quarterly, to create subcommittees, to field subcommittee update reports, to hear Public Comments, and generally to project at least an appearance of ‘citizen involvement’ in the management of the activities and impacts of their local airport. Oh, and for the record, the evidence resoundingly suggests: whenever FAA and airport authorities convene a citizen committee, the group is routinely and profoundly biased against the citizenry and for the industry.

Here is a link to the Port’s HARE webpage (including a list of the members), and below is a scrollable PDF copy of the agenda for the coming meeting.

This pop-out view is scrollable, and the PDF copy may be downloaded.

[REFERENCE]: Leaded AvGas

Aside

REFERENCE Links re: Leaded AvGas

CRAAP recently shared three links to articles and other reference resources on the public health issue of lead, which FAA has failed to remove from aviation fuel (AvGas). Another group, Oregon Aviation Watch (OAW), has been actively working to end the addition of lead to AvGas. For readers wanting to learn more, here are a few links:

5/15/2015
OAW Endorses Testimony in Support of Removing Lead from Aviation Fuel
Oregon Aviation Watch
3/25/2015
Pediatrician Urges EPA to Lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Lead
Oregon Aviation Watch
FEB 2015
Best Practices Guidebook for Preparing Lead Emission Inventories from Piston-Powered Aircraft with the Emission Inventory Analysis Tool
TRB Report 133, 47p
2/17/2015
Oregon Public Broadcasting Report on Leaded Aviation Fuel and EPA Delay of Endangerment Finding
Oregon Aviation Watch
2/12/2015
Three Articles on Leaded Aviation Fuel
Oregon Aviation Watch
OCT 2014
Quantifying Aircraft Lead Emissions at Airports
TRB Report ACRP-02-34, 218p
NOTE: if you are particularly concerned about the lead issue and interested in reviewing any of these documents, please consider drafting an analysis, outline or even an article to guest-post at aiREFORM.com. Technical consultation, advice, editing, and other support will gladly be provided by aiREFORM.

ANALYSIS: The ‘Mogas’ Study at KHIO, by KB Environmental Sciences

This Post offers an analysis of a 59-page study funded by the Port of Portland, to investigate the potential and feasibility to sell unleaded aviation fuel at the Hillsboro Airport [KHIO]. It includes some background on the leaded fuel issue, followed by a look at (and critique of) the KB ‘Mogas’ Study.

Background

The Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, and included guidance for the removal of toxic lead from transportation fuels. It took more than two decades for EPA to completely phase out lead in automotive fuel, as was accomplished in 1996. But, although there are far fewer aircraft and fueling locations (and thus the change for aviation should have been faster and easier to accomplish), it has now been 45-years, yet lead remains in the most commonly used General Aviation (GA) fuel: 100LL, commonly called Avgas.

Many aircraft have been modified to safely use unleaded fuel, commonly called Mogas. The problem, though, is that while mogas is widely available from wholesalers, very few airports have invested in the above-ground storage tanks and/or fuel trucks needed to offer this less hazardous fuel choice. Thus, even busy GA airports do not offer mogas. Such is the case today at the Hillsboro Airport [KHIO], west of Portland, OR.

20150204scp.. PoP Aternatives to Lead in Aviation Fuel [KHIO]For the past few years, lead has been a focused issue at the Hillsboro Airport. The airport is owned/operated by the Port of Portland (PoP). It is common throughout the U.S. for airport authorities to appoint citizen groups, which ostensibly assures the community is involved in airport impact decisions. In reality, though, PoP and other airport authorities tend to stack the membership of these groups so as to assure they vote favorably for the airport uses (and against the airport neighbors). At Hillsboro, PoP created the Hillsboro Airport Roundtable Exchange (HARE). Many airport neighbors feel that HARE is strongly aligned with the aviation interests at KHIO, particularly Hillsboro Aviation.

The KB ‘Mogas’ Study’s Summary:

At some point in the recent past, the Port of Portland hired a consultant to prepare a study related to the KHIO avgas/mogas issue. They hired KB Environmental Sciences, based in Tampa Bay, FL (and with offices in Washington, DC and Seattle) to do a study. KB is one of a handful of companies who make lots of money doing studies that are use by the aviation status quo to sustain practices and delay change. KB’s 59-page report was completed last December, and just recently made public. Here is the bullet list from the Executive Summary page:

…to read the study summary and the aiREFORM analysis,
please see page two of this Post…

Noise Impacts During Construction at Hillsboro Airport

For the past month, Port of Portland has ignored the legal challenge opposing the new parallel runway project, and has been constructing  the FAA-funded runway at Hillsboro. This has forced training helicopters to not use some areas near the center of the airport. Specifically, the southwestern portion of the Charlie Pattern, which historically has handled the vast majority of helicopter training traffic.
20140805.. KHIO Helicopter Patterns A-B-C, ADDED IMPACT AREASResidents in the two red circles may be noticing greater helicopter noise levels. Once construction is done, the new runway will be used primarily for closed pattern traffic, which means past helicopter patterns will be tweaked. The revised Charlie Pattern will shift toward the northeast AND these Charlie Pattern helicopters will tend to be held lower under the increased fixed wing traffic using the parallel runway. Thus, Charlie Pattern noise impacts should increase slightly.

Residents with noise complaints are encouraged to notify the Port of Portland. If the Port is deficient in their handling of your noise complaint, or if you want your concerns compiled with the concerns of others, please contact the aiREFORM.com administrator.

Here is a copy of the Noise Alert issued by the Port of Portland on 8/5/2014:

Hillsboro Airport – Helicopter Training Alert

Communities near Hillsboro Airport (HIO) may notice an increase in noise generated by helicopter training activities due to runway construction that will begin on August 5, 2014 and continue through September.

During the construction period the Charlie pattern will be reduced in size and it is anticipated that a small number of training helicopters that would normally train in the Charlie pattern, may be diverted to either the Bravo or Alpha patterns.

Thank you for your understanding during these temporary conditions.

Opening Brief Filed in Appeal to Stop Construction of New Parallel Runway at Hillsboro

The red box below presents a copy of the latest Post by Oregon Aviation Watch. It concerns the construction of a new parallel runway at Hillsboro Airport in Oregon [KHIO].

Two facts are driving this unnecessary construction:

  1. FAA has free money to award. Well, sort of free. FAA collects billions every year from airline passenger fees and air cargo taxes, and then doles out these funds to airport projects all over the country. Many times, though, these AIP projects are not needed and are actually just ‘pork’ used to create temporary jobs and help reelect incumbent officials. Sort of like ‘bridges to nowhere’.
  2. The Hillsboro parallel runway is NOT needed at all. In fact, this airport has seen a substantial reduction in itinerant air traffic operations (takeoffs and landings) in the past two decades. In 2013, there were 73,000 itinerant operations, down 24% from the peak year 1997, when there were 96,000 itinerant operations. KHIO has an exceptionally high portion of local ‘training pattern’ flights, mostly connected with Hillsboro Aviation’s helicopter pilot program. [BTW, this mirrors the national trend, where  total operations are down 25% from the year 2000]

In its ongoing quest for consideration of the local community and accountability in the proposed expansion of Hillsboro Airport, Oregon Aviation Watch has filed its opening brief in its latest appeal.

In keeping with their characteristically cavalier attitude towards using public money to promote private business interests at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO), the Port of Portland (Port) began constructing a third runway in early August. The purpose of the runway is to accommodate flight training primarily on behalf of Hillsboro Aviation – a company that recruits students from around the globe then proceeds to train them over our homes and neighborhoods. Recreational pilots are also major beneficiaries of this arrangement.

The more than $17 million lavished on the Port to cover the costs of this expansion are publicly subsidized in large part with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds and ConnectOregon handouts.

Earlier this summer, Oregon Aviation Watch filed a motion for an injunction pending a decision on the merits of the case so that the case could be reviewed by the court prior to construction. Unfortunately, our petition was denied. Needless to say, we were extremely disappointed by this ruling.

Nonetheless, after careful deliberation and in light of a recent outpouring of contributions from the community in response to our 7/31/14 email fundraising request, Oregon Aviation Watch has decided to move forward with the challenge to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) conclusion that adding a third runway at the Hillsboro Airport will have no significant impact on the human environment.

Though we fell short of our $9,000 goal, the contributions received so far have bolstered our confidence in our ability to raise enough money to cover legal expenses. Sean Malone, Attorney for Oregon Aviation Watch, submitted our opening brief on 8/11/14.

Oregon Aviation Watch is urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to moving forward with this project. In the 84 years, during which HIO has grown from a grassy airstrip into the largest general aviation airport in the state, the Port of Portland has never taken a hard look nor has it engaged in a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the environmental impacts of this facility.

We are sincerely grateful to all community members who have supported Oregon Aviation Watch and other airport appeals in the past. Your willingness to stand behind this effort is sincerely appreciated and your words of encouragement along the way have been invaluable.

We still need to raise additional money. This is an all volunteer effort. All contributions go directly towards covering legal costs. Thank you for your support! Donations can be sent to:

Oregon Aviation Watch
PO Box 838
Banks, Oregon 97106

Contributions can also be made by clicking on the menu bar DONATE button at www.oregonaviationwatch.org.

Oregon Aviation Watch is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax exempt. Our Tax ID Number is 27-3131841.

…and here are links to the many informative Posts done by OAW in the past five months…


Oregon Aviation Watch has been tireless in their efforts to get FAA, the Port of Portland, and a few community officials to listen to those who are impacted at Hillsboro. The vast majority of KHIO’s toxic lead and excessive noise is being created by the Hillsboro Aviation flight instruction program. And, much of it is by especially noisy low-altitude helicopters. Many people are being adversely impacted, while just a few are reaping enormous financial profits. This is exactly the sort of airport expansion for which Congress insisted FAA must fully engage impacted citizens. And yet, FAA and the Port of Portland are working together to disempower those same citizens.

If you are concerned about the situation at Hillsboro in particular or the abuse of power by aviation officials in general, please consider helping Oregon Aviation Watch with the costs of their legal efforts. Here is a link to the OAW donation webpage.

Oregon Aviation Watch discusses Hillsboro Airport Lead Impact

On Friday June 6, 2014, a workshop was held at PCC, on the link between air quality and risks to public health. The forum was sponsored by two Oregon legislators: Rep. Mitch Greenlick (Chair of the House Health Care Committee), and Senator Mike Dembrow (Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee).

The forum focused on two air quality problems:

  1. Aviation lead emissions at Hillsboro Airport, and
  2. Industrial emissions of hydrogen fluoride and other hazardous gasses.

Hillsboro Aviation has been recruiting student pilots from China and elsewhere; they then provide flight training (mostly helicopters) and burn leaded aviation fuel while intensively flying around airport practice areas. Miki Barnes and Dr. Jim Lubischer of Oregon Aviation Watch (OAW) offered a presentation about the lead impact at Hillsboro Airport. The Port of Portland is currently working to start construction of a new parallel runway at Hillsboro, using FAA funds. Hillsboro is an unusual airport, in that the majority of its traffic is for the flight training of imported students. OAW’s position is that the Port and FAA are effectively subsidizing this flight training at the expense of local community health. And, the principle beneficiary is the one business with the large fleet of training helicopters: Hillsboro Aviation.

Intel and other semiconductor manufacturers use a variety of gasses in their industrial processes. Some of these are released into the atmosphere in a controlled process, and occasionally they escape uncontrolled. There has been a long history of failures to disclose details of hazardous gas emissions.

For both air quality issues, the emissions problem is greatly magnified by the attitudes of the key parties (the sources, as well the regulators). Intel, FAA, the Port, and others continue to fail to ensure full transparency to the Public.

Luke Hammill covered the event with a news-blog at OregonLive.com, which generated the usual polarized comments.
20140606.. OAW forum presentation, PB, KHIO, OregonLive