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18 4.1 Reasons for and Benefits of Acquiring a NOMS In the course of the literature review for this research, the research team discovered that reasons for an airport to install a noise monitoring system include the following: â¢ Assess noise control for alternative flight procedures; â¢ Assist in the investigation of public inquiries and complaints; â¢ Validate noise modeling efforts; â¢ Educate pilots, airlines, and the public about airport noise; and â¢ Manage public expectations and replace perceptions with facts. Additionally, FAA guidelines indicate that continuous airport noise monitoring systems can enhance the effectiveness of airport NCPs by providing single event and cumulative noise levels at monitoring sites, differentiating between ambient and aircraft contributions to noise exposure levels, and providing the ability to develop a statistical database of noise levels for each aircraft type category. Furthermore, âairport noise monitoring systems provide an important tool for assessing noise levels around airports and provide concrete evidence that airport pro- prietors, state governments and the Federal Government are serious about controlling aviation noise impact on communities surrounding airportsâ (Newman 1980). A NOMS is not only a technological tool that provides benefits to airports, it is also an invest- ment that provides information and requires airport resources. The types of benefits gained by an airport and the magnitude of resources utilized by airports to operate a NOMS are largely dependent on the airportâs objectives relative to monitoring aircraft operations and aircraft noise. When an airport objective is to have readily available information about aircraft opera- tions including the location of aircraft in flight, then a flight tracking system would meet that objective. Additionally, when the objective is to have readily available aircraft noise information at specific sites around the airport, then a flight tracking system with noise monitors would meet that objective. Additional airport objectives and whether a technological tool would meet those objectives can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Airports may acquire a flight tracking system (a partial NOMS) or a full NOMS as a reactive or a proactive strategy for managing aircraft noise. A reactive strategy involves responding to aircraft noise issues as they arise and allocating resources to handle the issues as needed. When the noise issues become noise problems that the airport can no longer address successfully without readily available and detailed flight information, the airport would benefit from acquiring a flight tracking system or partial NOMS. When the noise problem includes tempo- rary or permanent and continuous measurement of aircraft noise, then the airport would benefit from a full NOMS. A proactive strategy involves allocating airport resources to prepare the airport and staff to handle potential noise issues before they become apparent. C H A P T E R 4 Benefits and Disbenefits of Operating a NOMS
Benefits and Disbenefits of Operating a NOMS 19Â Â The airport may acquire a flight tracking system or a full NOMS depending on the potential for noise issues in the foreseeable future (e.g., prior to a runway opening or residential develop- ments encroaching on airport property or flight paths). Aircraft noise issues generally begin with airport staff receiving complaints or inquiries from the public about aircraft operations. The process for handling aircraft noise complaints and inquiries includes investigating the aircraft operations in question and responding to the complainant. To successfully complete this process, airport staff needs a certain level of infor- mation about aircraft operations, such as the time and the proximity of the aircraft relative to the complainant. With this information about aircraft operations, airport staff can respond to the complainant with factual operational details including typical flight patterns, typical airspace and runway use, aircraft altitude, airport origin/destination, type of aircraft, whether the operation complied with noise abatement procedure, and at times, the purpose of certain flights (e.g., medical, law enforcement, air show, or crop dusting), and reasons for flight anomalies. Aircraft flight tracking systems can readily provide airports with aircraft information so they donât need to contact third parties such as FAA air traffic control. Without this information, airport staff can only respond to the complainant in general terms that may not address the complainantâs concerns or claims about specific aircraft operations. Airports have the option to develop preferred or desired air traffic routes, runway use, taxiway use, or other noise abatement procedures in order to minimize the noise impact on nearby communities as much as possible. Aircraft flight tracking systems can provide the necessary monitoring of noise abatement procedures to meet the desired compliance. A benefit of acquiring a flight tracking system or a NOMS is to meet the airportâs noise-related objectives. Responses to the Airport Questionnaires developed for this research indicated reasons for acquiring these systems and benefits gained from doing so. The text boxes that follow list the reasons for and benefits of acquiring and operating a NOMS, respectively. Reasons for Acquiring a NOMS â¢ Proactive strategy â¢ PartÂ 150 NCP â¢ Public request/pressure â¢ Land use compatibility plan â¢ Legal requirement/agreement â¢ NEPA mitigation requirement â¢ State reporting compliance â¢ NOMS replacement â¢ Litigation â¢ Sponsor interest â¢ Secondary enforcement of noise curfews â¢ Community interest â¢ To address community concern Benefits of Operating a NOMS â¢ Improved complaint investigation and reporting â¢ Improved community engagement â¢ Improved transparency â¢ Document compliance with legal obligations â¢ Efficient use of staff time â¢ Increased credibility â¢ Increased trust â¢ Noise abatement procedure monitoring and continuous improvement â¢ Improved community education (continued on next page)
20 Primer and Framework for Considering an Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System Once the flight tracking system or NOMS becomes operational, detailed information becomes available to airport staff to address noise issues. Airport staff can use the information provided by these systems to more effectively handle complaints and inquiries and improve commu- nity engagement. This change in community engagement generally improves the relationship between the airport and its community by developing transparency, gaining trust, and educating stakeholders. General strategies for successful community engagement include these (Woodward etÂ al. 2009): â¢ Have a community/service-oriented commitment; â¢ Develop progressive communication strategies; â¢ Establish continuous proactive engagement; â¢ Acquire good listening skills; â¢ Develop quality, rather than quantity, information; â¢ Build lasting relationships and establish trust; â¢ Manage community expectations through transparency; â¢ Address emotional feelings and do hard things; and â¢ Decide when help is needed. The text box that follows lists the changes that can occur in an airport-community relation- ship after acquiring and using a NOMS, based on responses to the Airport Questionnaire. Benefits of Operating a NOMS (Continued) â¢ Consistent message â¢ Contour and noise event validation â¢ Accounting/landing fee disputes â¢ Noise modeling data â¢ New procedure (Metroplex) development to protect noise- sensitive areas â¢ Noise reduction program tracking â¢ Noise mitigation tool â¢ Established accountability to the community â¢ Safety/incursions tool â¢ Elected official engagement â¢ Identify noise impact and trends â¢ Geofence monitoring Changes to the Airport-Community Relationship After Acquiring and Using a NOMS â¢ Improved due to data/information sharing â¢ Improved in terms of transparency â¢ Gained trust â¢ Community empowerment due to self-investigation tools â¢ Relationship improved through monthly roundtable meetings â¢ Reestablished trust â¢ Fostered engagement â¢ Educated the public â¢ Relationship improved â¢ Replaced perceptions with facts â¢ From contentious to trusting â¢ Community feels like airport is more responsive â¢ Implemented a proactive and engaged approach with community â¢ Built relationships with community leaders
Benefits and Disbenefits of Operating a NOMS 21Â Â 4.2 Disbenefits of Acquiring a NOMS As described in the previous section, flight tracking systems and NOMSs are investments that require airport resources. The costs associated with the procurement of these systems and the allocation of staff are the most common disbenefits reported by airports. Additionally, the processes to develop system specifications, prepare the request for proposals (RFPs), secure funds, perform system installation, perform acceptance testing, and train staff are considered to be time-consuming. The text box that follows lists the disbenefits that come with the acqui- sition of a NOMS, based on responses to the Airport Questionnaire. Disbenefits of Operating a NOMS â¢ Cost/expensive â¢ None (airport reported that there were no disbenefits) â¢ Public expectation that the airport can fix air traffic issues â¢ Public always wants more data â¢ Public expectation that airport staff address repetitive complaints â¢ System data verification/validation â¢ Responding to noise complaints â¢ Improvements in technology have resulted in higher complaint counts â¢ Public distrust of data â¢ Plan/coordinate upgrades â¢ Expense to maintain system â¢ Required technical support â¢ Flight data integration â¢ Expect 100% accuracy â¢ Increased demand for permanent noise monitors â¢ Delays to upgrade â¢ Inaccurate data â¢ System hackers â¢ 24-hour delay on data