The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 27, 2004


Selectmen support noise-reduction measures at Hanscom

At their February 10 meeting, the Selectmen thanked Steve Lerner for representing Carlisle at meetings of the Hanscom Area Towns Subcommittee (HATS), dealing with the commercial use of Hanscom Airport.

Lerner presented the rationale for the latest version of "Hanscom at the Crossroads," a position paper prepared by a group of state and federal legislators as well as Boards of Selectmen from HATS towns, seeking to limit noise and air traffic growth at Hanscom Airport. The paper asks that "in the absence of a long-range, regional, smart growth strategy, a moratoriumbe placed on any additional commercial aviation, changes of use, and new infrastructure development at Hanscom." (The proposed moratorium "would not apply to Hanscom Air Force Base or any military uses of the airport.")

Massport, said Lerner, "says that they cannot control the number of aircraft using the field any more than they can control the number of autos using the roads." FedEx is backing off from using Hanscom as a cargo base, but has made it clear that "citizen objections to their use of airfields will not influence their business decisions."

There was discussion and support for a noise-control policy used at a number of airports, including London's Heathrow, called "continuous descent approach," which, Lerner said, involves planes "gliding into airports naturally at higher elevations, taking into account three-dimensional vectors instead of two-dimensional ones. They are higher when they begin their final descent." Noise limits set for Hanscom in 1980 in the wake of the Vietnam conflict have not yet been reached, but Massport appears neither to have set nor agreed to any limits.

Corporate jets now account for 80% of the noise around Hanscom. So-called "time-shares," or short-run planes sharing longer flight time slots, fly in at all hours. According to Lerner, "The bigger part of the problem is night noise." In Massachusetts, Logan Airport is committed to entertaining the "continuous descent approach," but so far, Hanscom is not included in the state plans.

The opposing argument is centered on the necessity for "a great deal of work and sophisticated instrumentation to redefine airspace." Noting that Carlisle wants to be a responsible neighbor, "striking the right balance for Hanscom," the Selectmen charged Lerner with garnering the support of surrounding and contiguous towns for continuous descent approach, but took no other action.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito