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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



ISSUES/LEARN


    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.

    Improvements in airport safety and efficiency have not been publicly demonstrated in
    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
    tower will:
    (i) not reduce aircraft noise burdens on East End residents;
    (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.