QUIET SKIES COALITION PO Box 956 Wainscott, NY 11975
A seasonal control tower has been on the short list of improvements to help
manage air traffic at East Hampton Airport for some time, in hopes that it
might have noise mitigation impacts . But, it still remains a hope, as there
is no evidence to demonstrate that a seasonal control tower will lessen
noise at the airport.
East Hampton’s Town Supervisor has asserted that a seasonal control tower
will give East Hampton control of its airspace. An air traffic controller, certified
by the FAA and paid by the Town of East Hampton, will be able to manage
arriving and departing flights within a 5-mile radius of the airport. This may
help to direct traffic over less traveled areas, thereby sharing the noise burden
with communities that may not experience much noise now. But, this only
spreads the noise around it does not mitigate the effects of noise. There is no
data available to demonstrate that a seasonal control tower will mitigate noise.
QSC holds that It may prove to be that noise will actually increase, as a
control tower will enable flights to land in bad weather, where that was not
possible before. It may also lead to circling craft over areas previously less
affected by aircraft noise, as these craft wait for landing instructions
and opportunity. The only way to reduce noise is to limit access to
East Hampton airport, and a control tower does not limit access. It manages
access, and only during its hours of operation.
This is not a solution to the noise problem plaguing residents of the East End.
QSC’s position is while a controller will have the authority to distribute aircraft
over a larger area, he will be unable to mitigate noise impacts.
The only way to mitigate noise is to limit access to EH airport, by imposing
curfews, limiting numbers of flights, limiting days and times of operation
and prohibiting the noisiest aircraft from using the airport at all.
Five Year Report of the East Hampton Airport Noise Abatement Advisory Committee
(2004-2009), Executive Summary, pg 4
Proposed: A Permanent Control Tower
The Town of East Hampton currently is seeking FAA approval for a permanent seasonal
control tower at the East Hampton airport to replace the temporary facility installed during
the summer of 2012. The proposal was made public on April 2nd, 2013 by publication of
the “Seasonal Air Traffic Control Tower, Draft Environmental Assessment”, which can be
viewed at the town’s website (see link below) or at the East Hampton airport. A hearing
on the proposal will be held at the airport on May 1st from 7p.m. to 9 p.m.
The proposal is being advanced now despite promises made earlier that the current
temporary tower’s operations would be evaluated for its efficacy for two years or more
before the town would permanently commit to this very expensive program.
The seasonal control tower had been on the airport management’s short list of projects for
some time before it was established mid-summer 2012. In promoting that safety tool to the
community, the airport management and Town Board Airport Liaison Dominick Stanzione
had promised that it would provide some noise-limiting potential. That would have been an
important beneficial side effect.
At the outset however, on June 28th, 2012, it became clear that the noise-limiting promises
were false. On that date, the head air traffic controller announced at an airport seminar that
the sole purpose of the tower’s operation was “safety and efficiency” of the airport’s take-
off and landing operations—with no noise-limiting function. And the experience through the
summer and fall of 2012 was that the tower had no effect on reducing aircraft noise.
Meanwhile, Mr. Stanzione and the airport manager, Jim Brundige, did induce helicopter
operators to shift routes, reducing some East Hampton residents’ burdens at the expense
of residents in Southampton and on the North Fork.
Shifting helicopter routes is no solution and ignores jets, seaplanes and other fixed-wing
aircraft. The only way to mitigate noise is to limit access to East Hampton airport by
imposing curfews, limiting numbers of flights, limiting days and times of operation, and
prohibiting the noisiest craft from using the airport at all. The Town of East Hampton can
impose these noise limits as a matter of proprietary rights under controlling federal law,
except as restricted by the 20-year conditions (“grant assurances”) imposed by the FAA in
granting federal subsidies for capital investment at the airport. Because of the town’s past
acceptances of such subsidies, East Hampton presently is subject to such restrictions
which, however, will expire on 31 Dec 2014—in less than two years.
advance of the proposal for a permanent tower. In any event, it is the position of the Quiet
Skies Coalition that any such improvements in safety and efficiency will allow greater
amounts of traffic in and out of the airport--more helicopters and jets, seaplanes and other
fixed-wing craft. Obviously greater traffic will mean more and more noise, just the opposite
of what the airport management and Mr. Stanzione promised.
Also, the substantial capital investment and annual operating expense (the salaries of
controllers are paid for by the town, not by the FAA), will add to the expanded expenses,
funds that could otherwise help the airport to be self-sufficient without seeking FAA subsidy
money for capital expenditures.
The town presently is mounting an effort to regain some of its noise-limiting powers from
the FAA before 31 December 2014, and while QSC wishes them good luck; we are not
optimistic. Bottom line: the town must not seek any further FAA subsidy that would renew
the grant assurance limitations for another 20 years.
It is clear that spending large sums on a permanently operating but non-proven control
(ii) potentially lead to expanded airport capacity and more traffic and more noise; and
(iii) further complicate efforts to formulate a business plan for operating the airport
on a self-sustaining basis without FAA subsidy and local taxpayer burdens.
The May 1st hearing at the airport is the public’s opportunity to weigh in on this
latest airport expansion initiative. Your quality of life is at stake. Please attend the meeting
and make known your comments about this unnecessary and expensive permanent tower.