Archive for March, 2014

HMMH Throwback Thursday (TBT): Field Trips in the Pre-internet Age

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

by Mary Ellen Eagan

My first data collection (“field”) trip was in the spring of 1985.  We were supporting litigation (at an unnamed airport), and needed to know how flight schedules had changed over time (in order to prepare comparison DNL contours).  I was given the daunting task of going to Eastern Airlines Headquarters in Miami (at the time, Eastern was the only known source of historic flight schedule information) to copy pages from the Official Airline Guide (OAG), which looked something like this. 

Official Airline Guide

Official Airline Guide

 

The data needed to be re-typed (into Lotus spreadsheets), sorted, etc. – just to determine average daily flights on any given route.

 

OAG flight schedules

OAG flight schedules

 

That’s how the glamor began.

From Miami, I flew to Portland, Maine for my first trip involving instruments (alas, I’ve been unable to locate a photograph of a Digital Acoustics 607 noise monitor).  Nick Miller and I were measuring noise levels near Naval Air Station Brunswick, home of Pat Wing 5 and the P-3 Orion Naval Patrol. 

 

NAS Brunswick, Maine

NAS Brunswick, Maine

 

What I remember most about that trip – and tell my girls every time we drive past the old base (the base is gone – it’s now Brunswick Executive Airport, but the Fat Boy Drive-in is still going strong!) is that I was so engrossed in managing the noise monitor that I actually screamed the first time an aircraft flew overhead.  In my defense, that plane (a P-3) was on short final and probably at 100’ altitude (I know, because I got to figure that out later) and very quiet.  It was my first experience with ‘startle’.  What I also remember is Nick’s equanimity in the situation, while inside he must have been wondering just how long my career at HMMH would last.

There are so many differences between then and now, but the thing I miss most is the opportunity to get to know colleagues on a personal level.  In those pre-Internet days, once the sun went down, we were done working for the day – no email, no work in the hotel room, no cell phones even to call home.  It left lots of time for exploring neighborhoods, which could sometime be a challenge near remote Naval Air Stations – but who doesn’t like a challenge?  For example, in the photo below, Bob Miller is seen defending me from an unseen rattlesnake near Midland (TX).  We may be way more efficient these days, but are we still having fun?

 

snake hunting near Midland, TX, 1986

snake hunting near Midland, TX, 1986

 

 

BRIGHT IDEAS! – How airports can obtain a rebate from the Federal Government for new construction or renovations – an EXCERPT FROM THE AAAE ENERGY FORUM, March 7, 2014

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

by Steve Barrett

I was at the AAAE Energy Forum in San Diego a few weeks back.  The forum is a lesser known gathering of the AAAE community every two years where participants focus exclusively on energy issues.  I was fortunate enough to moderate a roundtable segment of the program where funding of energy efficiency technologies was discussed.  Topics included experience with Energy Services Companies (ESCOs), utility rebates, tax credits, and potential funding from the FAA.  

One of the real gems from the conference was a discussion of the 179d Tax Deduction Program, which allows designers to file energy efficiency projects for as much as a 20% tax deduction.  Now your first reaction is likely that airports, as government entities, cannot take a tax deduction because they don’t pay taxes.  And you would be correct.  However, the Internal Revenue Service allows government entities, including airports, to formally assign the tax benefit to a private entity involved in the project construction that can take advantage of and monetize the tax deduction.  

So what type of work is eligible for a tax deduction? 

Answer: any new construction or major renovation completed within the past three years that included energy code improvements that are above the ASHRAE 90.1-2001 Standard.  A simple example is changing out all your traditional lighting in a parking garage with LEDs.  20% of the cost of that project can be returned to the airport and project consultant through the 179d Program.  A real world example is occurring at Miami-Dade International Airport which installed a new central power plant and will be receiving a $1.4m credit for the work.  If you are interested in learning more, please send me an email.

Throwback Thursday (TBT): My First Noise Contours

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

by Mary Ellen Eagan

At the risk of mixing social media platforms (and incurring an eye roll from my teenage daughter), I’d like to announce a new blog series at HMMH:  Throwback Thursdays.

This idea was sparked as a result of the recent renovation of our Burlington headquarters, and the desire to preserve this collage that was prepared for the occasion of HMMH’s 10th Anniversary in 1991: 

HMMH-the early years1981-91

HMMH-the early years 1981-91

Our team has invested significant time scanning each of the photos in the collage, and my hope is that we can find something interesting to say about most of them (well, there are some NSFW things that won’t be shared).

My First Noise Contours

I thought I’d start off with a photo of my first noise contours.  As the date indicates, it was November 1984 (yes, I am that old); I was fresh from Cornell and a summer Internship with the Massport Planning Department; still wearing Birkenstocks and going to Grateful Dead shows (yes, I am that old).  Back in the day, this is what noise contour development looked like:

  • Operational Inputs were developed by typing ATC flight progress strips (see below) into a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet on the company’s only computer – a Xerox (which looked something like this): 

 fl-strips-computer

 

  • Flight tracks were developed in one of two ways:  (a) interviewing the Control Tower manager, who would describe nominal controller instructions to pilots (e.g., Climb to 1000’, then turn on course”), or (2) someone (guess who?) would sit in front of a radar scope marking radar return dots on a piece of acetate – literally, dot-to-dot flight tracks.  These days, I just smile at folks who get worked up for only getting a 99% radar track sample to analyze.
FAA Radar scope, circa 1980s

FAA Radar scope, circa 1980s

 

  • Then the real fun began!  We typed the INM “input deck” (I’m a version 2.7 girl – we old-timers mark our age by first model used) into the computer (my colleagues will tell you about their experiences with punch cards, and submitted it to Control Data Corporation (CDC) over a dial-up modem for processing.  Each run cost several hundred dollars – we did a lot of QC before submitting!   Assuming all went well, we then got to DRIVE to Waltham (20 minutes without traffic) to talk to Manny and get the output – a green and white computer printout and (hopefully) a large plot with contours!
MEE’s First Contours:  Groton-New London, November 1984

MEE’s First Contours: Groton-New London, November 1984

Next up:  Zipatone and Field trips of the 1980s!

 

ACRP Report Released on Defining and Measuring Aircraft Delay and Airport Capacity Thresholds

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

ACRP104coverLast week, the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) released Report 104: Defining and Measuring Aircraft Delay and Airport Capacity Thresholds. The ACRP report offers guidance to help airports understand, select, calculate, and report measures of delay and capacity. The report describes common metrics, identifies data sources, recommends metrics based on an airport’s needs, and suggests ways to potentially improve metrics.

Guidance and recommendations are provided regarding the relevance of particular delay and capacity measures by airport type, airport characteristics, and project lifecycle phase. The report suggests the most appropriate measurement tools at various points in the project development cycle, for specific items in each element, and for different types of airports. The report does recognize that it is not practical to have one threshold that can be applied to all airports.

The report includes additional metrics that would be helpful in the future, one of which is better communication of delays to the general public. The report summarizes that these communications should be easily understandable, able to be used as a common measure at any airport, and applied consistently across all airports. It was also noted that using a more positive metric, such as level of service, rather than using a term such as delay, which has a negative connotation, would better serve the public and the industry overall.

The research, led by TransSolutions of Fort Worth, TX, was conducted under ACRP Project 03-20. The other team members and primary authors of the report included Futterman Consulting of St. Petersburg, FL, Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. of Herndon, VA, and Jasenka Rakas of Berkeley, CA.

Click here to view the report.