Response to July 26, 2005 Dispatch Editorial.

On July 26, the Columbus Dispatch published an editorial titled Neighborly Gesture: OSU's Airport plans put complaint monitoring, noise reduction first on the to-do list. The Dispatch was supportive of the airport's current plans. The following is a review of that editorial.

"The proposal to install the necessary radar for a noise-tracking and complaint-response system ... is sound"

Radar is not necessary to determine if aircraft are coming or going. Radar is not necessary to track complaints. Radar is not necessary to respond to complaints.

The lack of radar does not excuse the fact that since 1999 there is evidence of only five substantive, non-form letter responses to complaints.

As part of their current studies, the airport has obtained flight track data for Don Scott operations for 50 weeks of 2004. OSU now has all of the data necessary to make a complete and full analysis of 2004 complaints, to find the main causes of noise, and to implement solutions to the problems.

The fact is, there are simple, cost effective systems that could be put into place relatively quickly. Instead, OSU is putting in place an expensive system that may take some time to install and start working.

"Uptick in complaints about noise parallel public discussion of OSU's plan to lengthen a runway and build hangars for small jets... Public awareness of development plans [may have] produced a greater sensitivity to the planes..."

Area residents have complained for years about aircraft noise and operations. A 1966 OSU Master's Thesis cites complaints about the airport 40 years ago! The thesis recommends specific steps to reduce the problems in the future. Few if any of these were implemented.

Even before the current expansion plans were well known, citizens left complaints, only to have them ignored.

OSU Aircraft noise has been a problem in communities surrounding the airport for years. WOOSE has been told by many individuals that they have tried to use the formal complaint channels -- every one of them tells us they never received a response. The fact that third-parties had to step in to implement a proper noise-complaint system only underscores the underlying problems.

"But the total flights at Don Scott have dipped dramatically since 1976..."

OSU records indicate 1976 was the busiest year on record with 205,704 operations reported. That year OSU reports a total of 200 based aircrafts, none of which were jets. It is important to note that this number includes activity by the Ohio National Guard who operated at the airport until the early 1990's.

The fleet mix of OSU Airport has significantly changed since 1976. In 2003, 230 aircraft were based there of which 19 were jets. OSU reported 104,742 total operations for 2004 of which 8,177 were jets. The number of jets based at and using the airport has significantly increased since 1976. And of the 6,451 complaints submitted to WOOSE over 62% are concerning jets.

"Technological advances and other strategies can lower noise levels."

Older aircraft are less expensive to purchase, yet often noisier to operate than newer aircraft. Because of the great capital expense in obtaining an aircraft, they are used for a very long time.

Changes in aircraft design and approach patterns continue to be tested and are years if not decades away from common practice. WOOSE members attended The OSU College of Engineering's Distinguished Lecture Series, Toward a Silent Aircraft which discussed aircraft design as well as approach strategies that can reduce noise.

The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 called for phasing out of Stage 1 and Stage 2 aircraft -- those considered the loudest. However this phase out did not apply to smaller aircraft weighing less than 75,000 lbs.

These Stage 1 and 2 aircraft can and do use the OSU Airport. WOOSE and the airport are both members of Sound Initiative, a coalition for quieter skies, seeking to phase out these loud aircraft. If OSU is serious about their commitment to ban Stage 1 and 2 aircraft, there are steps they can take now. If the airport instituted lease restrictions to prevent such aircraft from being based at Don Scott and imposed steep landing fees for such aircraft, the numbers of these flights would likely drop dramatically.

The statement that "Technological advances and other strategies can lower noise levels" is meaningless without specific information, details and a plan.

"[Baeslack] urged the creation of an Airport Environment Citizen Advisory Group."

OSU has proposed several community groups throughout the expansion process. Many of these groups were never formed or met. During the project kick-off meetings, OSU said they would continue the "Airport Advisory Committee" (AAC), "Citizens Advisory Committee" (CAC), "Technical Advisory Committee" (TAC), and the "Political Advisory Committee" (PAC), "as they had always done in the past."

Without any discussion whatsoever, the airport and consultants unilaterally disallowed the CAC, PAC, and TAC.

The members of the current Advisory Advisory Committee were appointed by the Airport Director and has been termed, by some members of the committee and community, as a rubber stamp. The January 2004 Meeting Minutes show who was in attendance -- largely the FAA and airport representatives.

Without details and a mission, the proposed Airport Environment Citizen's Advisory Group offers nothing substantial. And reports from across the USA of like committees is not promising. The problem with these groups is that the results reached are only recommendations for voluntary noise abatement procedures and have no teeth. Pilots may continue to operate under current parameters if they so desire.

If the airport were to perform FAA approved Part 150 and Part 161 studies, mitigation procedures could be made mandatory. Thus far, the University has refused to perform a new Part 150 study.

"These prudent steps allow OSU to analyze complaints thoroughly and then address neighbor's concerns before going forward with any development."

This statement is incorrect. Dean Baeslack has proposed that the University move forward immediately with some hangar development. The bulk of the plan has been delayed for 2-3 years, but there is no evidence that the University will have their new noise complaint system running long enough to "address neighbor's concerns" before this second wave of development begins.

Meanwhile, the neighbor's concerns have been made perfectly clear to the University for some years now. They only now plan to take action. Among those concerns are:

"Meantime, the airport is going to press on with its plan to build several hangars for smaller aircraft that would meet a pent-up demand for this space."

OSU is "re-scoping" the Environmental Assessment to obtain FAA approval of T-hand Row hangar construction. Yet OSU has not publicly indicated what type of aircraft will be housed in these new hangars. Other local airports also have waiting lists, and it is likely many waiting for space at Don Scott are on the lists at other airports.

Moving forward with hanger construction is inconsistent with OSU's plan to "Aggressively address existing noise issues.." Hangars add aircraft and noise to the current problem and undermine OSU's stated rational "to enhance the environment surrounding the airport, improve airport responsiveness to the community, promote improved understanding by all of Airport noise-related issues and problem."

"Complaints that OSU has no business operating an airport for anything other than small, piston-engine planes has little merit."

The first recorded complaints WOOSE has about OSU airport operations are from the 1960's -- shortly after the airport opened for corporate operations.

OSU Airport directly competes with Bolton Field (Bolton Field Master Plan Chapter 2., 2.8 pg 22). OSU directly competes with Port Columbus for larger corporate jets.

There are serious public policy questions as to whether a land grant university should be competing with the area's other airports. OSU has yet to explain how becoming "Central Ohio's Corporate Gateway" is compatible with the University's academic, research, and service missions to the greater community.

"The airport was built in 1942, when few people lived nearby."

Dublin and Worthington were founded in the early 1800's. The Village of Riverlea was founded in 1939. Many people living in these communities now are living in the homes of their parents and their grandparents.

The airport opened in 1942. By the 1960's when the airport first opened to corporate traffic, the airport was already surrounded by residential development in long established communities.

The problems that would be associated with continued growth were brought to the attention of the University in the 1960's. Despite the warnings, they continued their aggressive expansion plans for corporate traffic up until the present.

"OSU should proceed with its plan to put in place the means to determine the best course of action for the airport."

The means to determine the best course of action for the airport include the surrounding communities. OSU should immediately begin listening and working with the surrounding communities and residents. OSU should:

The Dispatch

Despite specific requests for a face-to-face meeting, WOOSE was told by the Dispatch that a personal meeting with the editors was not possible because the Dispatch was too busy. WOOSE was afforded a single phone call from a single writer to a single member of WOOSE.

WOOSE has been told several representatives from OSU met with several members of the Dispatch for a face-to-face meeting.

The information contained within the editorial is incomplete and does not offer readers a full and balanced presentation of the OSU Airport expansion issue.

This page last modified on Thu Mar 27 2008 at 11:58 pm
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