Review and Comment of the March 2005 cover story of Columbus CEO Magazine

The article by Julanne Hohbach titled "The Don Scott Debate: Will Neighborhood Opposition Ground OSU's Airport Plans?" does not reflect the story's contents: a promotional piece outlining the proposed expansion plan of OSU's Don Scott Airport. Legitimate concerns of area residents, neighborhoods, communities and the WOOSE organization were glossed over in a sidebar titled: "The Hubbub About Noise." The article contained no debate and in fact did not present Columbus business leaders with a balanced presentation of information, facts and concerns about OSU Airport's current and future economic and environmental impacts to surrounding communities. It is important to note WOOSE and area residents who have been involved in the expansion process for more than two years were not contacted or interviewed for these stories.

The Project

Columbus CEO: The expansion is "...a project to modernize its facilities and snare new revenue, even as it continues to serve student aviators." OSU claims these improvements will cause only a "slight" increase in operations.

The Facts: OSU admits additional hangars will increase the number of based aircraft and will generate additional air traffic.

Additional Hangars will include aircraft T hangars with 15 bays and two storage units and another with 12 bays, restrooms and one storage unit and another aircraft community hangar with clear span and 12 office suites, and yet another set of Row Hangars which include 4 bays for multiple aircraft with capabilities for office suites.

The Bottom Line: The proposal will transform Don Scott Airport into Central Ohio's Corporate Jet Center.

Currently OSUA is the about the fifth busiest airport in Ohio. The proposed expansion changes focus to the corporate customer. "Corporations (account for) only 10% of our operations" Hammon says. "But they contribute 80% of our revenue. Most of that revenue comes from the gas pump." OSU Airport can fill the planes and make money on fuel sales.

Meanwhile, more hangars mean more based aircraft and more air traffic, fuel odors, and noise and air pollution. OSU Airport has no plans for land side infrastructure improvements. Necessary roadway improvements (i.e. State Route 161) will be supported by Ohio tax payers.

The Mission and Rationale

Columbus CEO: The project is necessary both to modernize an aging facility and to boost the Bottom Line for the self supporting airport. The university's academic mission is the primary force driving airport development needs. Everything the university does is supposed to have an academic component. "We are first and foremost a training facility" said Doug Hammon, airport director.

The Facts: The educational mission of the airport and community programs are not affected if the expansion does not go forward. The extended runway and expansion will significantly change and remove non-aviation, educational programs at the airport and surrounding university properties. OSU has indicated the expansion will not increase student opportunities. OSU students are not offered jet instruction and do not fly jet aircraft. Closure of one of the crosswind runways will remove a useful training and safety tool for student pilots.

Enrollment in the Departments of Aeronautical Engineering and Aviation is very low. In 2002 the College of Engineering awarded 682 undergraduate degrees of which 6 were in Aeronautical Engineering and Aviation.

The Bottom Line: The primary goal of the expansion is to attract more corporate customers. The runway extension and expansion are planned to transform OSU Airport to Central Ohio's Corporate Gateway with jet traffic and services on the north side of the airport. Factional ownership and air taxis have shown tremendous growth since 9/11. Over the next ten years 10,000 business jets will be built, more than double that of the last 10 years.

The extended runway and expansion do not serve the educational and research mission of The Ohio State University. The low number of students enrolled and granted degrees in Aeronautical Engineering and Aviation at OSU raises questions as to the appropriateness and relevance of the proposed expansion.

OSU Airport and other Columbus Airports

Columbus CEO: The CRAA (Columbus Regional Airport Authorty) doesn't seem worried about losing business to Don Scott. "We don't feel the expansion will have any impact" Neal says.

The Facts: The Bolton Field Airport Master Plan (http://www.columbusairports.com/bolton/pdf/bfc123.pdf), Chapter 2 section 2-7 and 2-8 states:

"Due to its proximity to Bolton Field Airport and the facilities and services available there, Ohio State University Airport directly competes for some of the same users as Bolton Field Airport. Based upon the review of activity levels, the facilities and services available at the airport and their location relative to Bolton Field Airport, Ohio State University Airport and Rickenbacker International Airport emerge as being directly competitive for the same airport users as Bolton Field Airport."

The Bottom Line: In 1991 the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the Columbus Regional Airport Authory reached an agreement. CRAA took over operation of Bolton Field, Port Columbus and Rickenbacker. Franklin County agreed to contribute $4.338 million per year of operational subsidies for 10 years. The Authority assumed responsibility for preciously incurred public debts and payments on bonds.

OSU's Draft Master Plan indicates OSU Airport is currently operating at 35% capacity and estimates for 2020 indicate it will be operating at 50% capacity. Table 3-1 in the OSU Airport Noise study released in June 2004 reduced the future forecast of aircraft using OSU Airport by 15% largely due to a decline in operations (a decrease of 20%) between 1999 and 2000.

FAA Financial Help

Columbus CEO: Running an airport isn't cheap. The FAA does help out on some capital projects.

The Facts: Between 1963 and 2003 OSU Airport received 28 grant awards from the FAA totaling $11,459,252.13. The money has been used for land acquisitions and related items (42.8%), runway projects (40%), equipment (14.7%), and planning (22%).

The Bottom Line: The FAA will pay for 90% of the North Runway Extension project. The North runway extension project is estimated to total $8,266,825. FAA grants will provide $7,440,052. OSU and other contributors will provide $826,673.

A 2002 FAA report to Congress titled "National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems" projected Columbus Airport Development costs included Port Columbus $119 million, Rickenbacker $51 million, OSU $13 million and Bolton field $6 million. The FAA has provided many federal dollars to Columbus airports.

The Noise

Columbus CEO: More air traffic is what's giving nearby resident fits. Residents say more operations will inevitably mean more noise. Hammon says a new Instrument Landing System (ILS) combined with newer, quieter jet engines would ultimately mean less noise for neighbors. "If the north runway were lengthened, Hammon says, 70-80 percent of that traffic would ultimately shift there."

The Facts: The Preferred Expansion as outlined in the current draft Environmental Assessment states that extending the North runway 1,800 ft to the west and 1,200 ft to the east will create a total length of 6,000 paved runway surface with an ILS navigational system. Taxiways would be extended to the ends of both runways. ILS, an instrument approach, uses signals to guide aircraft to a runway. The ILS outer marker for the north runway is proposed for the fire station at Maple Canyon and St. Rt 161.

Aircraft will continue to use the south runway. OSU's noise study indicate the south runway will service 20% of the jets, 80% of the single engine and 60% of the multiengine aircraft. While the North runway will service 80% of the jets, 15% single engine and 35% of the multiengine.

Aircraft approaching from the east will use St. Rt. 161 as the flight track to the north runway placing 80% of OSU's jet traffic over the residential city of Worthington in the final 2 minutes of landing when aircraft are low and loud. Aircraft approaching the south runway will continue to use the straight in appoach placing aircraft over Colonial Hills, Riverlea and Indian Hills. OSU Aircraft taking off to the east are restricted an must make a 50 degree turn to the north and remain under 3,000 feet.

The Bottom Line: The longer runway will be closer to area neighborhoods with landings and aircraft "run ups" taking place at the end of the runway and closer to residents. The proposed 6,000 ft runway will allow jets to leave OSUA with more fuel. Fuel filled aircraft are heavy and as a result are slower and remain lower on takeoffs over residential areas surrounding OSU Airport.

A flight path is not like a roadway, an approach can vary as much as .5 mile so consider the flight track to extend .5 miles north and south of S. Rt 161. These residential areas will find aircraft overhead for the final 2 minutes as aircraft descent to land at OSUA . The restrictions on altitude and the required turn for all aircraft leaving to the East will funnel low, loud and fuel filled aircraft over residential areas in the first 3 minutes of the aircraft's assent.

Newer, quieter aircraft are being developed, however aircrafts are expensive and have a useful life of more that 20 years. The older, louder aircraft are not going away. Some communities have actually banned some of the noisier aircraft:

Some airport operators and noise sensitive communities are working together seeking to restrict Stage 2 airport access. Stage 2 aircraft use Don Scott Field now.

Another myth is that the Instrument Landing System makes things quieter. When it use, it can allow planes to come in at a steeper descent, and thus more quietly. However, the system is only used in inclement weather, thus a large majority of flights will not use the system.

Finally, under current rules, the choice of where to land is up to the pilot. There is no way to guarantee that pilots will choose to land on the north runway 70 to 80 percent of the time. In fact, nearly all of the airport services and hangars are near the south runway. Pilots are likely to land where they will not have to taxi a long distance to get to where they need to be. Even if they did land on the north runway, it is a just shift of the noise, not a reduction in it.

The Impact on Communities

Columbus CEO: Some communities have complained loud and long about the threat to quality of life and property values.

The Facts: The city of Worthington and the Village of Riverlea have studied the airport expansion proposal and passed resolutions calling on The Ohio State University to conduct a Part 150 noise Study and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to ensure the environmental impacts of the proposed expansion will be thoroughly studied.

OSU has steadfastly refused to do more than the minimum required by the FAA -- an Environmental Assessment -- which is not as rigorous and involved as a Part 150 Noise study or EIS. It is worth noting that the FAA would pick up 90% of the cost of an EIS.

To get a first hand look at the long and loud complaints of neighbors see the essay written by Riverlea Mayor Mary Jo Cusick page 75 of the WOOSE Report on the Ohio State Airport.

Current Noise Impacts

Columbus CEO: "The study, by DLZ and Wyle Lab was released in June and showed no homes in the airport's landing pattern presently have average noise levels above 65 decibels, the acceptable 'day night average' sound level set by the FAA."

The Facts: The OSU Airport's Existing Conditions (2003) Noise Contours did not show homes within a noise contour above 65 DNL. However the map's 65 DNL contour which extends off the airport property includes residential homes, apartments and condos. The FAA sets 65 DNL as the benchmark for noise mitigation. The FAA considers homes, churches, schools and other uses noise sensitive sites and if located within a 65 DNL contour qualify for noise mitigation. A Part 150 Noise study would include a Noise Compatibility Plan as well as mitigation and noise abatement plan for these affected areas.

The Environmental Assessment and Noise Study

Columbus CEO: An environmental Assessment that must be approved by the FAA is under revision. However, based on comments received, OSU decided to do more analysis.

The Facts: Here's why we believe OSU decided a 2nd Draft of the Environmental Assessment was necessary.

Incorrect Data

  1. Integrated Noise Model inputs for aircraft altitude were consistently higher than actual flight tracks. This means aircraft using OSUA are actually lower to the ground and louder than those used for noise modeling.
  2. Aircraft fleet mix for the noise model did not include the noisier aircraft that use and are based at OSU Airport. This means the noisy aircraft using OSUA were not included in the noise study.
Incomplete Data
  1. The study areas beyond OSU Airport property were not identified or included in the study.
  2. Historic areas of surrounding communities were not included in the study.
  3. Sensitive areas (schools, churches, libraries and hospitals) were not included.
  4. The communities of Rivelea, Worthington and Dublin were not included in the study.
  5. The noise monitoring involved 5 days in Feb. of 2004 at 11 arbitrarily chosen community locations: 4 at OSU airport, 2 in Linworth, 1 in Columbus, 6 in Worthington and 2 in Dublin. Riverlea was not monitored.
  6. The average number of daily aircraft monitored at each site was not reported.
  7. No night time touch and go activity was included- there is evidence this practice occurred at OSUA.

The Bottom Line: Five days of noise collection is not an adequate representative sample of DNL levels experienced by the community in order to test the validity of the noise model. Equipment malfunctions and budgetary concerns were more of a factor in the data collections rather than a sincere attempt to plan a well-designed community noise study.

Until the results can be more completely and accurately presented they simply can not and should not be used to draw any valid conclusions concerning the impact of aircraft noise on the community.

The city of Worthington and the Village of Riverlea has passed resolutions calling for a Part 150 Noise Study and a EIS. These studies would be conducted by independent companies not affiliated or contacted by OSU Airport, unlike the current studies.

What will happen to other OSU owned properties along the north runway and Sawmill Road

Columbus CEO: Indicates Dean Baeslack hasn't heard yet.

The Facts: The Don Scott Field Area District Plan Draft Plan of 1998 contains specific plans and uses for the University owned/controlled land surrounding the airport.

At the February meeting of the Northwest Plan Advisory Committee a university representative provided the "Plans for Landholdings Don Scott Field- existing conditions" a chapter of The College of Food and Agricultural Environmental Sciences Master Plan. Land use will transition from supporting the teaching and research in the Animal Sciences to supporting the teaching and research in Plant and Environmental Sciences. It was disclosed at that time, a recent market analysis found office and retail use for the Sawmill and Dublin-Granville Rd area is saturated and has recommended residential land development.

The Bottom Line: OSU has plans to develop the areas surrounding OSU Airport as a source of revenue. The expansion of OSU Airport is a central and critical part of the plan.

The Hubbub About Noise

Merriam-Webster defines hubbub as

1 : NOISE: loud, confused, or senseless shouting or outcry. UPROAR: a state of commotion, excitement, or violent disturbance.
2 : CONFUSION :the quality or state of being confused b : a confused mass. TURMOIL: a state or condition of extreme confusion, agitation, or commotion.

The concern of neighbors about the proposed expansion of OSU's Don Scott Airport is not loud, confused or senseless. Neighbors are not in a state of commotion, excitement or violent disturbance.

Neighbors are concerned about OSU Airport's proposal to transform Ohio State University Airport to Central Ohio's Corporate Jet Gateway surrounded by residential neighborhoods for the following reasons.

  1. Noise Metric and Impact of Aircraft Noise on Real Estate: OSU has chosen to report only DayNight Averaging. Other noise metrics such as Time Above and Single Events more accurately depict true impact and are more readily understood and accepted by the general public. Expected noise from future aircraft arriving and departing from OSU Airport will decrease the assessed value on billions of dollars of real estate in the range of $50-100 million. Annual loss in real estate taxes is projected to be in the range of $1 million or more. This information was not considered or included in the Environmental Assessment Aircraft Noise Complaints: OSUA does not currently operate an effective aircraft complaint system. Their phone based system allows callers to leave a voice mail. OSU reports they average 22 complaints per year. Complaints message with requests for follow up calls left on the OSU system are not returned. No community member has ever reported receiving a follow up call. The city of Worthington operated an online noise complaint system from 10/03-11/03 collecting more than 9,000 noise complaints. WOOSE has operated an online complaint line since 12/04 collecting more than 1,000 complaints in four months from residents of various communities surrounding OSUA.

    The Columbus Airport Aurthority operates an online and telephone noise complaint system which routinely checks radar records and follows up complaints within 48 hours. The current noise problem caused by OSU Airport have been known for years, yet no mitigation effort has been undertaken. OSU Airport does not adequately record, respond and address current noise complaints. OSU Airport, as a good neighbor, should immediately implement a noise complaint and response system before expansion plans continue.

  2. Impact on Historic Sites: Section 106 of the National historic Preservation Act the FAA must take into account the registered historic sites when making a decision about OSUA proposed expansion. The current draft Environmental Assessment did not include Worthington's 29 properties on the Historic National Register and the Rush Creek Historic District with 57 homes and 4 pending consideration. Dublin has 48 historic sites while Columbus has 8 -- all located near OSU Airport.

    Schools and Education: Schools are considered noise-sensitive sites by the FAA. Research indicates aircraft noise can interfere with learning in reading, motivation, language and speech acquisition, and memory. The EA did not examine the cumulative impact of OSU Airport's full build plan. There are 28 schools located to the east and 27 to the west of OSU Airport. These schools were not included in the Environmental Assessment. The north runway flight track will place 70-80 percent of all jet traffic over Worthington Estates, Evening St, Colonial Hills, St. Michaels, Kilbourne Middle School, Mc Cord Middle School, Thomas Worthington and Linworth.

  3. Quality of Life Issues: Jet usage of the south runway has had a devastating effects on the quality of life for residents and businesses and on the enjoyment and touring of area historic centers and sites. See essay written by Riverlea Mayor Mary Jo Cusick page 75 of the WOOSE Report.

    Community disruptions by aircraft noise is a 24 hour concern for area residents and since Sept. 11, 2001 airport safety and security have become issues. The OSU Airport tower is closed between 11PM and 7AM yet aircraft continue to use the runways at OSU. Often times the aircraft using OSU airport after the tower closes are listed as unknown on radar records. Unknown and therefore unidentified aircraft type, tail number, and purpose for using OSU Airport. In December 2004 Congressional investigators found the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has focused on security efforts on commercial aviation and doesn't understand the riskes posed by small private planes, fails to issue meaningful threat information to general aviation airports and can't make sure charter airlines and flight schools comply with security regulations. Officials have indicated general aviation airports must all have security measures that are equivalent to TSA mandates at commercial airports. The Homeland Security Department and the FBI released a report in Feb. 2005 confirming what many have said that increased security in one sector of the US will prompt terrorist to target others under less scrutiny. So like it or not, those using general aviation airports may soon be joining the rest of us with "take-our-shoes-and-belt off security" when they want to take to the skies.

  4. Personal and Family Health Issues: Aircraft noise impacts the daily lives of area residents interrupting and sometimes stopping conversations and sleep. Aviation fuel has a high concentration of lead. It is not subject to any regulations that restricts leaded motor gasoline use and result in releases to the environment. Area residents concerns about fuel exhaust and fuel dumping have not been addressed in the EA.

The Bottom Line: Buyer Beware

Columbus CEO: The Bottom Line? Caveat emptor.

The Facts: The fact is the communities of Worthington and Dublin were established long before OSU opened Don Scott field. These communities grew over the past 60 years with some residential neighborhoods established before and after the installation of the current south, crosswind and north runways. In 1942 OSU Airport was surrounded by farm fields. Today OSU Airport is surrounded by residential development. Approximately 40,000 people live within 1 mile of OSU Airport.

Many people moved to our communities long before the current noise issues became a problem. And even someone that moves in today has reason to oppose an expansion that will bring even more noise.

The window of opportunity to expand OSU Airport closed years ago.

The Bottom Line: Area residents agree. Before anyone 'buys' OSU's Airport expansion they should beware and demand more and complete environmental information. The impacts on surrounding communities should be fully reviewed and explained before the project moves forward.

Airport Expansion Will Cost You Money

Expansion is Contrary to the Airport's Educational Mission

Airport Expansion is Unnecessary

OSU Is Not Completely Studying the Issue

Local governments, elected and appointed offices have called for OSU Airport to conduct an EIS and more study!

OSU has steadfastly refused.

Don't you wonder why?... Caveat emptor.

For a more thorough examination of the issues surrounding the OSU Airport proposal see the WOOSE Report on the Ohio State University Airport, Febuary 2005.

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