Saturday, May 13, 2006
The blast from the Learjet 20 Series engine can rattle windows and wake the soundest of sleepers.
But the largest user of the aircraft at Don Scott Field says it will end nighttime flights there immediately.
The news came at a Thursday night meeting of the Airport Advisory Committee, a group of residents, officials and aviation experts, to address noise concerns at the Ohio State University-owned airport.
MedFlight offered to re-route the older, noisier jets to Port Columbus.
The concession involves only about two takeoffs or landings a month, said Todd Bailey, Med-Flight spokesman.
"But they definitely trigger a high number of complaints," said Cathy Ferrari, Don Scott spokeswoman.
For more than two years, residents near flight paths have complained about noise, especially when it wakes them at night.
When Ohio State announced plans to double the length of its north runway, residents feared more jets would use the airport and worsen the noise problem.
The Federal Aviation Administration must approve airport expansion plans. The agency measures problem noise as that which averages more than 65 decibels during a 24-hour period. But residents say that a single blast from a jet engine can have lingering effects.
"It¯s horrendous. It vibrates the house," said Riverlea Mayor Mary Jo Cusack, who is a sound sleeper. "This will be a big help. I appreciate the fact that OSU worked out that concession."
MedFlight operates a helicopter, ambulance and two turbo-prop airplanes from its headquarters just north of the airport.
They typically transport critically ill patients using propeller planes within a 700-mile radius.
MedFlight charters the older jets when patients are more critically ill or need to travel greater distances, sometimes overseas, said Bailey, Med-Flight¯s spokesman.
MedFlight will continue to fly jets to and from Don Scott during the day. There were about 40 day flights in the last six months.
Bailey said eliminating night flights will mean sending an ambulance to Port Columbus to pick up patients there, but he called the extra effort "our contribution to doing the right thing for the community."
Worthington officials and a citizens group have compiled about 23,000 complaints in two years, said Scott Whitlock, an advisory committee member.
"This single change would reduce the noise complaints by 2 to 3 percent," he said.
Commission members also discussed performing a more rigorous study to determine the full extent of noise problems.
A study completed last year by OSU¯s consultant, DLZ, was criticized by the community and aviation experts as being flawed and incomplete.
William "Bud" Baeslack, OSU¯s dean of engineering, told the group Thursday night that the decision to conduct the more detailed study, which could cost up to $250,000, much of it paid by the FAA, would be made by higher-ranking university officials and ultimately would require approval by the OSU Board of Trustees.
"I think they¯re trying to be a good neighbor," said Bill Schuck, president of the Northwest Civic Association. "Instead of saying ¯that¯s tough,¯ they¯re taking concrete steps to address the aircraft noise complaints."
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