Archive for the ‘Mary Ellen’s Meanderings’ Category

BTS Releases National Transportation Noise Map

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Source: https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/press_releases/bts015_17

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) initial National Transportation Noise Map was released earlier this week.  It shows that more than 97 percent of the U.S. population has the potential to be exposed to noise from aviation and Interstate highways at levels above below 50 decibels (roughly comparable to the noise level of a humming refrigerator).  A much smaller segment of the U.S. resident population has the potential to be exposed to higher levels of aviation and Interstate highway noise. Less than one-tenth of a percent of the population could potentially experience noise levels of 80 decibels or more, equivalent to the noise level of a garbage disposal.

The purpose of the noise map is to facilitate the tracking of trends in transportation-related noise, by mode, and collectively for multiple transportation modes. The data allow viewing the national picture of potential exposure to aviation and highway noise. The data also allow viewing of the potential exposure at the state or county level.

The National Transportation Noise Map will be an addition to the National Transportation Atlas Database (NTAD), a set of nationwide geographic databases of transportation facilities, networks, and associated infrastructure available from the BTS Geospatial Data Catalog. The layers will be updated on an annual basis, and future versions of the National Transportation Noise Map are envisioned to include additional transportation noise sources, such as rail and maritime.

The BTS map contains aircraft and road noise inventory data provided as web map services (WMS) for use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), computer programs that can store, analyze, and present spatial or geographic data.

The mapping was developed by the DOT’s Volpe Center, using data sources from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to create a comprehensive map of noise levels. The FAA’s Aviation Environmental Design Tool was used to model the average number of daily flight operations from airports across the country, excluding airports with exclusively military operations. To determine daily road noise data, algorithms from the FHWA’s Traffic Noise Model were used in conjunction with data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System to obtain the average daily noise levels for automobiles, medium trucks, and heavy trucks. The acoustics modeling used in developing these noise layers uses conservative, simplified methods, and only considers transportation noise (no other ambient noise sources). Documentation on the modeling assumptions is available at https://maps.bts.dot.gov/noise/. The noise data in the layers should be used for the purpose of tracking trends, not for assessing impacts. This data release represents the first year of data that can be used to analyze future trends.

HMMH Signs White House Equal Pay Pledge

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

By Mary Ellen Eagan

Today the White House announced new signatories to the White House Equal Pay Pledge. HMMH is proud to be among the first 100 national signatories to the pledge.

“Inequality in the workforce doesn’t just adversely affect women; it affects our families and our broader economy. As President Obama says, ‘When women succeed, America succeeds.’ That’s why today’s announcement is a great step in the right direction and the Obama Administration applauds companies making this commitment to advance equal pay. However, the work doesn’t stop there. We must continue to ask what more we can all do to ensure that the 21st century workplace reflects the priorities and values of the 21st century worker.”

White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett

 

By signing the pledge, businesses agree to:

  • Play a critical role in closing the national pay gap
  • Conduct an annual company-wide gender pay analysis
  • Review hiring and promotion processes to reduce unconscious bias and barriers
  • Include equal pay efforts into other equity initiatives
  • Identify and promote best practices to ensure fundamental fairness for all workers

 

HMMH is also a signatory to the 100% Talent Compact, an initiative of the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, which served as a model for the national pledge. The most recent BWWC Report on pay gap showed that the gap for women in transportation is 75% in the Boston Area (i.e., on average, women make 75% of the salary of men).

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Boston Wage Gap (Source: City of Boston 2013)

And this doesn’t even begin to touch the work we must do to get more women in our industry at all (a subject for another day). And our firm. We’ve got a long way to go, baby.

 

Report from CAEP 10

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

by Mary Ellen Eagan

 

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This is my first time representing ACI as an observer to the ICAO CAEP meeting. And what a meeting I picked!

At the meeting yesterday, CAEP approved a recommendation that will be forwarded to the ICAO General Assembly in September to adopt the first-ever carbon standard for aviation.

As discussed in the the New York Times, the standard will require a 4 percent reduction in fuel consumption of new aircraft starting in 2028 compared with 2015 deliveries.  It also sets new limits for airplanes in production that are delivered after 2023. Depending on the size of the aircraft, actual reductions would be from zero to 11 percent, with a bigger emphasis on larger commercial airplanes.

The White House Fact Sheet emphasizes the significance of the agreement, as aviation is the first global industry to adopt a climate standard since the Paris Climate Agreement in December.

The standard is expected to be formally adopted by the civil aviation council of 36 member states in June this year, and then endorsed by the council’s assembly in October.

In addition, CAEP also forwarded a recommendation for a new Non-Volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) standard, and approved a Circular on best practices for Airport Community Engagement.

For 53 Years I’ve put up with it now, I must stop Christmas from coming, but how?

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

By Mary Ellen Eagan

Several years ago, I invited my husband, David, to opine on the deeper meaning of Rudolph. This was during a time when he’d been spending a LOT of time with our then 7-year old, watching nearly nightly. The post was well received, and I’ve been asking him since to write another. And since he is the Grinch in our family, it seems only fitting that he should respond with this.

 

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Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) as 53 when he wrote “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, and he had a car with the personalized license plate: GRINCH. It’s not a stretch to think Ted Geisel saw a bit of himself in the Grinch. So if you occasionally get annoyed at Christmas, you’re in good company. If you don’t occasionally get annoyed at the shallowness, materialism, and consumerism of Christmas, you probably live on a mountain even farther from the rest of us than Mt. Crumpit is from Whoville.

Being an occasional Grinch does not mean you are an evil person; you aren’t even a bad person. Up there on your mountain of superior aloofness, staring down, hating all the Whos, you’re more of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch Zarathustra than Dicken’s greedy Scrooge. The Grinch, after all, has no interest in wrecking the Whos’ Christmas for personal gain; he takes all their goodies just to teach them a lesson. He’s the definition of a killjoy, with his heart two sizes too small. He’s a brother to Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and self-righteous atheist prigs who don’t want to let anyone have any fun or joy that they either can’t or won’t let themselves enjoy. Sam and Richard want to teach us a lesson, too, with no personal gain that I can see (unless, of course, you buy their books).

But sometimes the teacher is the one who gets schooled. The Grinch isn’t completely lost in his own superiority; when he finally does stop to listen to the Whos, he can actually still hear them. It takes him a while – ‘til his puzzler was sore – to work out Who is right and who is wrong (not bad, not evil, just wrong), but he’s not so lost that he can’t change his path. And he’s not so foolish that he doesn’t recognize that he needs to change, even though 53 years of hating Christmas may have left him set in some of his ways. Don’t expect to see the Grinch hanging around Cindy Lou Who’s house like the reformed Scrooge haunting the Cratchit’s. But I think you’ll see him and Max out on the sled a bit more.

The Grinch was right all along about our Christmas. Our Christmas is shallow, consumerist, and materialist. But he was wrong about the Whos’. Their Christmas is none of that; their Christmas means a little bit more. On this, my 53rd Christmas, I wish you the blessings of family, friends, and the Christmas of the Whos.

 

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Figure 1: Why, Santy Claus? Why are you taking our Christmas tree? (Greta at 2)

 

 

HMMH Fall Tour 2015: On the Road Again

Friday, November 13th, 2015

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’ve been on the road this fall at conferences – a whole lot of air miles, too many hotels, chicken lunches, and name tags (someday these will be designed for wearing on something other than a suit jacket lapel), but lots of great discussions, more than a few cocktails with good friends, and many laughs along the way. Some common themes emerged; here’s a recap of my highlights/takeaways:

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Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) Global Sustainability Aviation Summit (Geneva)

At ATAG, ACI and Canso jointly released a document entitled Managing the Impacts of Aviation Noise, which provides a concise summary of airport noise issues, strategies for mitigation, and an extensive series of case studies. On community engagement, the report recommends following guidance issued in Eurocontrol’s Collaborative Environmental Management (CEM). One key difference between the European approach and ours is that the airport is at the center of the discussion. I am pleased to have contributed to the document.

 

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ACI World Environment Standing Committee (Geneva)

Australia has seen good success in improving relations by having a very engaged and completely independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, who serves as a neutral party facilitating discussion of noise abatement alternatives, and educating the public using language that is not jargon. The Australians also provide guidance to airports (and others) on how to properly address complaints. And Canada recently released an Airspace Change Communications and Consultation Protocol for engaging communities and other stakeholders in discussion of proposed airspace changes. It, too, puts airports at the center of the discussion.

 

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ACI-NA Annual Conference and Environmental Affairs Seminar (Long Beach)

My presentation at ACI focused on the concept of social license to operate (SLO), which originated in the mining industry. The premise of SLO is straightforward: owners of businesses and other enterprises that generate negative externalities must secure permission from stakeholders in order to grow – sometimes even to operate. And that permission is earned (not simply granted), by engaging stakeholders in a relationship that evolves from acceptance to trust. As shown in the illustration below from Social License institute, deteriorating levels of trust can lead to active political engagement and protest, as we’ve recently seen with the No Fly movement.

 

EFCG CEO Conference (New York)

This annual gathering of almost 300 CEO’s of firms in the A&E industry provides great perspective on the state of the industry, trends in financial results and other industry benchmarks, and an opportunity for firm leaders to share experiences on all kinds of issues facing our industry, including talent shortages, ownership transition models, and implications of new business models, technologies, and regulations. My favorite moment of the conference was my realization – during a fancy dinner at the Harvard Club – that the nine other CEO’s I was dining with were more interested in talking about their pets than their businesses. CEOs are people, too.

 

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AAAE Basics of Airport Law Conference (Washington)

John Putnam (KKR) and I provided a session on emerging noise issues. Much of that discussion focused on PBN issues, the challenges posed by NEPA requirements in evaluating PBN procedures (not only at individual airports, but on a metroplex scale), and implications of FAA Reauthorization on airport noise issues.

 

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ACC Annual Conference (Newport Beach)

There was much discussion at the Annual Meeting on the need to engage politically in conversations about airport development. ACC President TJ Schultz’s knowledge and insight into FAA funding and other political realities provides ACC member firms (especially small ones like HMMH) with context for making strategic decisions. I am honored to have been elected incoming Secretary/Treasurer for 2016, and look forward to serving on the ACC Executive Board with Don Bergin and Roddy Boggus.

 

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ACI-NA Marketing and Communications Conference (Nashville)

ACI-NA’s Marketing and Communications conference held a session on airport noise. This is very exciting to me because the longer I’m in this business, the more I’m convinced that a good deal of airport noise issues can be addressed by better communication. I’ve come to this for several reasons: (1) first, we know that only about 30% of people’s annoyance to aircraft noise can be attributed to the noise level – that leaves a lot of opportunity for using “non-acoustic” measures to address noise issues; (2) after 30+ years in this industry, I am positive that people don’t suddenly start complaining about aircraft noise unless there has been some change in their environment or their life: a new runway, a new procedure, a new home, a new job (and increasingly, retirement). Working with stakeholders to understand the reasons for those changes often goes a long way toward resolving annoyance – sometimes it can be addressed, but even when it can’t, folks generally are satisfied that they have been listened to and validated.

Bottom line: sometimes the best consulting one can offer is to listen.

 

Looking forward to a brief respite (though I’m presenting remotely to the Aircraft Noise Non-Acoustic Group (ANNA) in The UK on Thanksgiving – hopefully not messing up the turkey too badly in the process). Then back on the road again in December to wrap up the year at ACC/BAG Global Business Summit (London) and ACI/ACC Planning and NEPA Workshop (Washington).