Posts Tagged ‘ACRP’

I’m All for Alternative Energy, But Will it Impact My Airport?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

by Steve Barrett

HMMH provides answers in ACRP Report.

Growing demand for electricity and the transition to new technologies is pushing energy projects in new geographical areas.  Proposals for wind farms and solar plants are getting the attention of  aviation professionals who see projects proposed near their airports and are concerned that the projects will impact pilot safety and airport operations.  To gather more information on the pertinent issues, the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) funded a Synthesis Report, and I was selected as the Principal Investigator for the study.  The Report, Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation, was released by the ACRP on October 15.

The study looks into the potential impacts of wind farms, solar panels and concentrated solar power plants, and traditional natural gas plants on airports and aviation.  Types of impacts evaluated include solar glare, radar interference, thermal plumes from emission stacks, and penetration of structures into airspace.  The report reviews specific project proposals including the proposed Shepherd Flats Wind Farm in Oregon’s Columbia River Valley and the Blythe Concentrated Solar Plant in the desert of Southeastern California. 

The Synthesis Report, combined with the Solar Guide prepared by HMMH and released by the FAA in November 2010, provides a substantial amount of information on the subject of alternative energy and airports.  ACRP has announced a follow-up Project to develop a Guidebook for energy and aviation professionals that will contain more detailed information including new analyses of specific projects.  HMMH, as a leader in the field of alternative energy and airports, will continue to track these developments closely.

Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation

Environmental Smackdown – Aviation v. High Speed Rail

Monday, February 14th, 2011

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’m inspired by a few recent events to pontificate on this subject; those events are:  (1) Joe Biden’s recent remarks on high speed rail (HSR) in the US, (2) Greg Principato’s response, and (3) a recent session at the TRB Annual Meeting: “Environmental Tradeoffs of Aviation and High Speed Rail”.

First, let me be clear:  I do not think that one mode of transportation is “better” than another.  In fact, I’m quite sure that we have a need for both and our focus should be on complementarity, not competition.  That said, high speed rail advocates in the U.S. are making statements that unequivocally claim that high speed rail is “better for the environment”.  But let’s check the facts, as far as I’ve gathered them (admittedly, a somewhat cursory review):

  • Capacity:  Matt Coogan and others have prepared a comprehensive case study of the impact of high speed rail on aviation capacity in ACRP 31:  Innovative Approaches to Addressing Aviation Capacity Issues in Coastal Mega-regions.  They conclude that while introduction of Acela Amtrak service between Boston and New York has reduced passenger traffic by about 1/3, the number of flights between the two cities has dropped by only about six percent – shuttle operators have just adapted by substituting smaller aircraft on those routes to meet the schedule demand.
  • Noise:  Noise assessments for aviation and high speed rail both rely on Day Night Average Sound Level, but the similarities end there.  The FRA’s HSR Guidance Manual determines impact on noise sensitive communities by comparing project levels to existing noise levels to determine two categories of impact (moderate and severe), while the FAA’s Order 1050.1E determines impact by identifying noise-sensitive land uses that are projected to experience an increase in noise of 1.5 dB or more in those areas already exceeding DNL 65.  To make matters even more complicated, people appear to respond differently to aircraft noise than rail noise (they are more annoyed by it); on the other hand, if the rail vehicle in question is moving fast enough to cause startle (i.e., HSR), it’s not clear whether annoyance reaction is more like aircraft than rail.  Ruth Mazer and I gave a presentation at TRB comparing aviation and HSR in the Boston-New York Acela corridor, using both the FRA methodology and the FAA’s Integrated Noise Model.  We estimated that the number of people exposed to Sound Exposure Levels (SELs) from aircraft flying BOS-NYC high enough to cause speech disturbance (85 dB) ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 (depending on runway, flight path, aircraft type, and airport); whereas the number of people exposed to the same level on the BOS-NYC route is 12,000.  On the other hand, there are close to 30 shuttle flights per day in each direction and only 10 trainsets.  Is it better to expose the same 1,000 people to excessive noise 60 times per day or twelve times as many people only 20 times per day? 
Source: EU Position Paper On Dose Response Relationships Between Transportation Noise And Annoyance, 2002

Source: EU Position Paper On Dose Response Relationships Between Transportation Noise And Annoyance, 2002: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/noise/pdf/noise_expert_network.pdf

  • Air Quality:  Mikhail Chester from UC Berkeley also gave a presentation at TRB entitled, “Life-Cycle Assessment of High Speed Rail:  Total Environmental Accounting”, in which he compared the total air quality outputs from automobiles, aviation, and HSR.  LCA includes not just the operation and maintenance of the vehicles, but the infrastructure development and energy production.  Two interesting figures are presented below, which demonstrate that although emissions per passenger kilometer traveled (PKT) is highly dependent on vehicle loading, HSR consistently produces less CO2 than aviation only when it is assumed that the HSR uses “clean” fuel, and is not a clear “winner” over aviation when comparing NOx.  More detail on Mikhail’s research is here.
Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Source: Mikhail Chester, 2011

Lifecycle NOx Emissions, Source: Mikhail Chester, 2011

 

Lifecycle NOx Emissions, Source: Mikhail Chester, 2011

Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Source: Mikhail Chester, 2011

I look forward to your responses, and to seeing some real data – especially noise – on this subject.

ANMS Conference Debrief

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

by Mike Carr

Eugene Reindel and I recently attended the 10th Annual Airport Noise Mitigation Symposium (ANMS), hosted by San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California. ANMS is the only U.S. conference pertaining directly to the issues relating to airport noise mitigation. The theme this year played off of the San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge; Building a Bridge to Compatibility.

This year’s conference was a great success and enjoyed by all (from what I heard). This is in no small part due to the great job of the Symposium’s planning committee which was co-chaired by Michael McCarron of San Francisco International Airport, and Carla Kell-Smith of C. Kell-Smith & Associates, Inc. The agenda had a great mix of presentation styles and topics from across the industry.  Mix that with a humorous, facetious, yet educational keynote address on the history of Sound Insulation from Carl Rosenberg of Acentech, a Napa/Sonoma Valley wine tour, and golf tourney overlooking the bay and you might just have a hit.

As for the actual session, topics ranged from FAA roundtable discussions, airport land acquisition, adding a green/sustainable focus to your program, and my personal favorite… Sound Insulation and Testing (although I’m biased). One topic of particular interest, which kept sneaking into sessions and conversations, was the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) update to the Guidelines for Sound Insulation of Residences Exposed to Aircraft Operations (Guidelines).

A session directly discussing the ACRP Update to the Guidelines document was presented by Michael Payne of The Jones Payne Group. Michael Payne, who is the Principal Investigator for the Update, offered the following perspective on the purpose and need for the Update:

While there is much useful information in the two previous versions, much of it needs to be updated to reflect current costs, codes and “Best Practices”.

The Approach for the update plans to:

Build upon the two previous versions by maintaining that which is useful and relevant while updating and expanding the Guidelines in key areas such as:

  • Energy performance and sustainability
  • Community Outreach
  • Improvements in Products
  • Current Code and other Regulatory Requirements
  • Bidding methodologies and project costs

Michael’s presentation sparked a decent amount of discussion among attendees; I look forward to seeing the updated Guidelines as they are issued. The final submittal is expected in Fall/Winter 2011, so look for it sometime after.

On a side note, special congratulations are also in order for Michael Payne, as he was this year’s recipient of the Randy Jones Award for Excellence in Airport Noise Mitigation.

HMMH has had the opportunity to be involved in the ANMS since nearly the beginning, providing sponsorship, chairing or moderating sessions, presenting paper, and participating as members of the planning committee. This was my first year of involvement, both in attending the conference and participating on the planning committee.  I’m looking forward to participating and seeing all of your shining faces at the 11th annual ANMS in the ‘Lou (NO NOT THE LOO! St Louis!). 

Noise Outside DNL 65

Monday, October 5th, 2009

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Well, this is a blog post I’ve been thinking about for some time (probably since before I knew what a “blog” was – though I just learned that the term was coined in 1984 – ironically, the same year I started in this business), but is precipitated by the publication of ACRP Synthesis 16, Compilation of Noise Programs in Areas Outside the DNL 65, primary author, yours truly.

Findings

If you’ve been tracking my publications closely (or reading Airport Noise Report), you’ll already know the conclusions.  For those of you haven’t, I’ll summarize briefly.

The ACRP synthesis was based on an online survey of 43 airports, designed primarily to identify the airports’ reasons for addressing noise outside DNL 65, and the wide range of techniques used to address it.  The survey included five general questions regarding noise issues outside DNL 65.  I was not surprised by the results:

  • A majority of respondents (83%) indicated that noise issues outside DNL 65 were “important,” “very important” or “critical” to their airport.  The remaining 17% were evenly split, stating that noise issues outside the DNL 65 were “somewhat important” or “not at all important.”
  • How important are noise concerns outside DNL 65 for your airport?

    How important are noise concerns outside DNL 65 for your airport?

  • The most frequently listed method of minimizing noise outside the DNL 65 was operator education and outreach (74% of respondents), followed by noise abatement flight tracks (69%), preferential runway use programs (66%), noise abatement departure or arrival procedures (60%), and ground noise control (51%).
  • Eighty percent of respondents indicated that “community concerns” were the motivation for addressing noise outside the DNL 65; fifty-seven percent also indicated that “preventative planning” was a motivation.
  • Almost three-quarters of respondents (74%) indicated that more than 75% of their airport’s noise complaints came from people who live outside DNL 65.
  • The most common outreach tools to communicate with people exposed to noise outside DNL 65 are websites (74%), community meetings/forums (74%), online tracking (40%), and newsletters (40%).

The survey also found the following:

  • A majority of surveyed airports use noise abatement departure (63%) and arrival (51%) flight tracks and departure (54%) and arrival (40%) cockpit procedures to minimize noise over residential and other noise-sensitive neighborhoods.  However, among surveyed airports there is no consistency in methodology among airports for evaluating noise abatement outside DNL 65, and there is little guidance or support from the FAA on appropriate metrics or criteria for evaluating noise abatement procedures.
  • Most airports reported some procedures to minimize ground noise (69%); 25% of those airports reported that the procedures were developed primarily to address noise outside DNL 65, and an additional 38% reported that procedures were developed to address noise issues both inside and outside DNL 65.
  • More than half of the surveyed airports (57%) reported having land use compatibility measures that apply outside DNL 65.  The tools used by airports for land use compatibility planning include zoning, building permits that require sound insulation or residential and noise-sensitive non residential land uses, and disclosure to residents.
  • The majority of respondents (58%) do not provide sound insulation to homeowners living outside DNL 65.  However, 20% provide sound insulation for homes in contiguous neighborhoods (“block rounding”), and an additional 15% provide sound insulation for homes within the DNL 60 dB contour.
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents (74%) reported that they use both websites and face to face meetings to communicate with people exposed to noise outside DNL 65.
  • The responding airports communicate with pilots about noise outside DNL 65 in a number of ways.  The most common are: pilot briefings (40%) and Jeppesen inserts (40%), posters and handouts (37%), and FAA standards (17%); other methods include airfield signage, Airport Facility Directory Special Notices, videos distributed through flight schools, and phone calls.

What does it mean?

As I said above, none of these findings surprise me – and for those of you who work around airports, you’ll probably feel validated.  The real question is what does it mean for public policy?  I will be talking about results of this survey twice in the next couple of weeks: first at the AAAE Airport Noise Mitigation Symposiumin Boca Raton, FL on October 6th, and the following week (October 11) at the ACI-NA Environmental Affairs Committee Seminar in Austin, TX.  I look forward to engaging discussion with you, and will try to post the highlights here for those of you that can’t join us.