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Nov 11, 2014 11:33 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Aviation Community Unhappy With East Hampton Airport Noise Report, Says Money Was Not Well Spent

Nov 11, 2014 5:44 PM

Aviators and other advocates are calling for East Hampton Town to reevaluate an East Hampton Airport noise analysis that they say is incorrect and ineffectual.

The report was presented on October 30 to a large audience seeking answers about how many noise complaints there have been, who or what is to blame, and what will be done about it. Consultants from Young Environmental Sciences and Noise Pollution Clearinghouse reported a surprising number of incidents of aircraft exceeding the town’s noise limits and, equally alarming, low rates of compliance with town rules for pilots when approaching and departing the airport.

Opponents of the report are saying the data were skewed and have asked the Suffolk County comptroller’s office to review the town’s $60,000 expense for the report.

“If you’re going to spend $60,000 of public funds to try and understand what the issues are and to validate them, then the report has to be correct,” said Jeff Smith of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council.

The study set out to count the number of times in 2013 any property within 10 miles of the airport was affected by airport noise above the levels set by the town code. Using modeling which took into account each operation's altitude, thrust, speed and other factors, they determined how many times a single flight exceeded the town limits, and how many properties would have been affected. The resulting numbers, in the millions, quantified the theoretical number of times any property experienced excessive noise.

Mr. Smith said that, to add insult to injury, the report said only 15.3 percent of pilots adhere to noise abatement routes, based on a sample of about 4,000 flights from 2013 AirScene Aircraft Tracking, which gathers and archives data related to air traffic.

According to Noise Pollution Clearinghouse’s findings, pilots who use the Georgica route, which takes pilots up and over Georgica Pond, have the highest compliance rate, while pilots who fly over Noyac’s Jessups Neck have the lowest compliance rate.

But Mr. Smith said the consultants relied on outdated flight records from 2013 and did not take into account several noise abatement procedures, like alterations made to the routes a number of times. Additionally, he said that the report “cherry-picked” data by using one set from 2014 and another from 2013.

By using summer 2013 data from AirScene Aircraft Tracking, rather than data from summer 2014, the report does not show the dramatic reduction in noise levels that would have resulted from higher approach and departure altitudes, he added. “By comparing and contrasting different models from different years, they are creating a nonexistent discrepancy,” Mr. Smith said.

He said he worked with former airport manager Jim Brundige, Peter Boody, the assistant airport manager, and Jemille Charlton, the current airport manager, to change arrival and departure routes based on hot spots, or places where people complained the most.

One of the biggest changes was over Jessups Neck—the route that was said to have the lowest compliance rate. Mr. Smith said planes and helicopters used to fly over Jessups Neck and down over Noyac, taking an 80-degree left turn toward the airport, but that turn was eliminated, with aircraft instead flying straight off Peconic Bay over a clay pit and power lines.

Mr. Smith said helicopters, especially, have had a high compliance rate—above 90 percent.

When reached on Monday, Mr. Charlton said it was true that airport officials felt there had been an “upswing” in compliance, especially after working with the Eastern Region Helicopter Council. “We go through noise abatement with Eastern Region Helicopter,” he said. “We convey the message to them about what needs to be done for our community. Coordination is key.”

He added that whether or not the helicopters and other aircraft were in compliance is subjectively interpreted, and that different studies will show different things.

The airport manager said it could have been a different report, depending on where the consultants drew their information. “I feel that the data studied … that’s the outcome of it,” he said of the recent report. “Every project you do, there is a different way of doing it.”

Former East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, who is now a paid consultant for the Friends of the East Hampton Airport Coalition, wrote an open letter last week addressing what he sees as “an example of manipulating facts in order to see a reality you wished for, rather than the facts as they are.

“As I said as supervisor, you can get a consultant to say anything you want,” Mr. Wilkinson continued in the letter, which was sent to local news publications. “So true is it for metrics, it all just depends on what you want to see.”

But current Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the consultants had been working on the data for several months, and that in order to get a full 12 months of data, a full season of data, they used information from 2013 because 2014 wasn’t over yet.

“Although we’re analyzing 2013, when all the data is available from 2014, analyzing that is something we should do,” he said. “We’re on schedule here to try to resolve the issues before next summer, and there is lengthy legal process and hearings that have to take place before the Town Board makes decisions.”

Mr. Cantwell said he doesn’t think the county comptroller has any authority over town financing, but that either way, the town followed purchasing requirements when choosing and paying the consultants.

“We’re in the information-gathering stage of a pragmatic process, and we are taking in consideration everyone’s comments, including those being voiced by helicopter interests,” he added.

The town’s reports are available on the town’s website, and comments can be directed to HTOcomments@ehamptonny.gov.

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Money well spent to prove what we already knew. Sounds like its time to close up the place.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Nov 11, 14 1:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Close the place? Are you crazy? That’s exactly what the East Hampton Town Board wants. It is disgusting. The airport provides so many jobs and monies to the local economy….
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:10 PM
When the 2014 study results are in those who oppose these reports of 2013 will be far more "unhappy" as air traffic has significantly increased since 2013. They can deny all they want, but the communities of the North and South Fork and Shelter Island have joined to make known the impact of excessively low flying and loud noisy helicopters, seaplanes, piston engine aircraft, and looming private jets. It is no mystery as to why the southern route is less utilized; many of the residents are using ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Nov 11, 14 3:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Your comments continue to sound like desperate and paranoid conspiracy ramblings in an effort to frighten people. No one is turning off their transponders just to hide from you and your hubris. That is so absurd it's comical. If we turn off our transponders we are putting our lives at risk because we no longer show up on TIS and TCAS so other planes can't see and avoid us - no one is foolish enough to do that! No one is performing acrobatics either since you have to have a special type of structurally ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Nov 15, 14 10:12 AM
“To those pilots who turn off their transponders so they are not detected, we see you do it and we hear you over our homes.”………
You do know you can’t turn off a mode S transponder, and that modern aircraft are equipped with Mode S transponder, especially jets, helicopters and seaplanes. You must have flown years, and years, and years, and years, and years ago when you could turn “off” a transponder. As for the older planes that are doing acrobatics ...more
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's important to note that over 350 residents of East Hampton south areas signed a petition to the Town of East Hampton Town Board members requesting that they vote not to renew FAA funding as they too are being harassed by the increasing helicopter and winged aircraft traffic into KHTO.

It is important that residents who are effected by the noise contact the Town of EH so they are made aware of the impact as it intensifies with each year. Contact www.quietskiescoalition.org ...more
By mcgrawkeber (47), East Hampton on Nov 11, 14 4:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
350 out of 21,457..... the true 1%.......
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:22 PM
Or ask your local business if they want to go under…..
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:24 PM
Let's face it. Anyone who lives in or near the corridors in which the helicopters and planes regularly travel, understand that the noise levels are out of control. Those with a business or personal convenience interest in the airport to function without restrictions will continue to whine and stomp their feet asserting that the facts are being skewed. Actually, a tiny fraction of the population derive any meaningful benefits from the airport's heavy traffic and a disproportionate percentage ...more
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Nov 11, 14 4:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
I’m only financed by the money they bring into the economy, if you don’t like it move, I heard with the decline in oil prices North Dakota is nice this time of year…
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:26 PM
Down here in the holler we'll take "skewed data" over flat out lies of those paid airport homies any day. The only thing noisier than the airport is the airport lobby.
By we could run this town! (129), the oceanfront trailer park on Nov 11, 14 5:56 PM
Airport "homies" is that racist? What data from such homies are you talking about?
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:28 PM

"It is important that residents who are effected by the noise contact the Town of EH so they are made aware of the impact.."
Yes it's important for the same handful of people to contact the Town OVER and OVER like they have been . . .hundreds of times each.
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on Nov 11, 14 6:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:29 PM
Keep accepting "skewed data" we could run this town, from the ocean trailer park. Very Saul Alinsky of you. Its doing wonders, right now, for Obamacare.
By fact (25), east hampton on Nov 11, 14 10:51 PM
Didn't take long for the wingnuts to weigh in. Saul Alinsky.... Really?
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Nov 12, 14 1:35 PM
Of course they aren't happy as it doesn't support them. Duh. However they cannot deny the truth that the constant bombardment of the helicopters have ruined the quality of life for thousands of tax paying citizens all for servicing the few. Smith and the helicopter council has had plenty of time to police their own, now we must do it, as they wont. Living in North Sea I can attest to the lack of compliance on any Friday Afternoon. The airport can support itself. no FAA money needed. Limit the number ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Nov 12, 14 6:18 AM
2 members liked this comment
thousands of tax paying citizens? how about a few that complain over and over again.....
By kevinlocal (47), wainscott on Mar 10, 15 11:31 PM
Surely, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilkinson appreciate the irony of questioning the validity of data and metrics used to get a handle on this difficult problem. The FAA, the aviation industry and the aviation noise industry spend countless millions of dollars every year to justify “findings of no significant impact” from airplane and helicopter noise pollution based on a DNL noise metric that even FAA experts consider to be outdated and seriously flawed when, in fact, the impacts on public ...more
By Mark M (3), Arlington on Nov 12, 14 10:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Only Wilkinson would comment in his role as a paid consultant to the pilots group that consultant's can skew data. He truly is and always has been clueless.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Nov 12, 14 2:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By JCHeli Senshi (3), on Nov 16, 14 11:21 PM