Posts Tagged ‘noise’

Willkommen auf INCE-bruck!

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Sunday, September15, 2013

Innsbruck Aldstadt (Old Town)

Innsbruck Aldstadt (Old Town)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The understanding of Innsbruck that many Americans of my generation have begins and ends with the 1976 Winter Olympics:  Franz Klammer, Jim McKay, and Dorothy Hammil (yup, I had her famous wedge haircut).

Dorothy Hammil, 1976

Dorothy Hammil, 1976

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn’t think much of it again until I was invited to speak at the 2013 Internoise Conference.  So here I am, getting ready to attend the “Opening Ceremonies”, after spending a day as tourist.  I’d recommend:

  • Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum (Tyrolean Regional Heritage Museum): features a collection of folk art and displays of Austrian living in the 15th-18th century.  I was most intrigued by a current exhibition entitled “Dreck” (Dirt), which focused on cleanliness and hygiene as a social ideal (indeed, teutonic fastidiousness with hygiene was something I noticed upon my first visit to Austria, when most toilets were still of the “shelf toilet” variety).
  • Aldstadt:  the Old Town, with pretty pastel buildings, Alps in the background, and lots of touristy shops, in case you’re in need of some new leiderhosen.
  • Theresienkirche: at the top of a mountain, in the “Hunger District”.  The church has several frescoes by Max Weiler, including this one depicting Tyroleans at the crucifixion:

Herz-Jesu-Sonne, 1947  Source: Die Hungerburger Theresienkirche

Herz-Jesu-Sonne, 1947
Source: Die Hungerburger Theresienkirche

 

 

 

More later.  When the action starts.

A “perfect storm” – Recent actions by all three branches of the federal government address more types of aircraft noise, and acknowledge that adverse effects extend beyond traditional noise contours.

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

by Ted Baldwin

Serious federal attention to aircraft noise began around 1960, largely in response to community concerns (okay, complaints) related to the introduction of early air carrier jets (“airliners”), in particular the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.

For the past half century, the federal government has largely focused its attention on aircraft noise associated with succeeding generations of airline jets at commercial service airports.  General aviation (g.a.) airports, g.a. jets, propeller aircraft, and helicopters have been a secondary focus of attention to all branches of the federal government, as illustrated by the following examples:

  • Legislative branch:  Congress has focused on laws phasing out older noisier aircraft over 75,000 pounds, which largely represent air carrier jets.
  • Executive branch:  The FAA’s development of the Integrated Noise Model (INM) has largely focused on modeling air carrier jets, as exemplified by the database’s most extensive coverage for that category of aircraft, with increasing dependence on substitute modeling surrogates as aircraft weight decreases.
  • Judicial branch:  Legal decisions have largely accepted arguments that significant noise exposure and associated liability extend only to the 65 decibel (dB) Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) contour, on which g.a. aircraft and helicopters have relatively little effect;  typically the 65 DNL contour from these aircraft alone encompass little – if any – off-airport land.

To build on the “ocean” metaphor in the title of this posting, the airline jet noise “tide” is ebbing, largely as the result of federal legislation and FAA regulations that force the retirement of 14 C.F. R. Part 36 Stage 1 and 2 jets over 75,000 pounds, and require applications for new “type certification” to meet Stage 4 requirements.  Local noise abatement and land use compatibility programs have complemented these federal actions (and frequently benefited from federal funding and implementation support).

One potential federal response might be to declare “mission accomplished” on the noise front, and turn the focus to areas where the tide is rising – both literally and figuratively; e.g., emissions-related contributions to climate change, which appear to be associated with storms that threaten coastal airports and result in operational delays at airports at all elevations.

However, recent actions show that the federal government is taking a different approach, and turning its focus to previously neglected – or at least lower-profile – noise issues associated with g.a. airports, g.a., jets, and even helicopters.  Again, this “changing tide” is reflected across the board at the federal level:

  • Legislative branch:  In the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012,” Congress prohibited, after December 31, 2015, regular operation in the contiguous 48 states of civil aircraft weighing 75,000 pounds or less that do not meet Stage 3 noise levels.  See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-02/pdf/2013-15843.pdf.)
  • Executive branch:  As summarized in its “Aviation Noise Impacts Research Roadmap,” the FAA is supporting a number of initiatives recognizing a broader range of noise issues, such as the accuracy of the INM for modeling g.a. aircraft and enhanced modeling of taxiway noise.
  • Executive Branch:  In a more applied case, the FAA adopted a final rule on July 6, 2012 that requires helicopter pilots to use the North Shore Helicopter Route when operating along the north shore of Long Island, New York.  The purpose of the rule is to “protect and enhance public welfare by maximizing utilization of the existing route flown by helicopter traffic one mile off the north shore of Long Island and thereby reducing helicopter overflights and attendant noise disturbance over nearby communities.”  (see http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/media/NYNShoreHelicopterFinalRule.pdf)
  • Judicial branch:  In a recent opinion that denied a petition by the Helicopter Association International (HAI) for judicial review of the preceding mandatory helicopter route, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit supported the other executive branches in their focus on lower levels of noise exposure related to operations by non-airline aircraft.  (see http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/1C20D137DFF53DAD85257BA600539826/$file/12-1335-1446255.pdf)

It should be noted that the Long Island helicopter route rule addressed in the preceding two bullets was initiated by two federal legislators representing Long Island residents – Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Tim Bishop – who conducted a meeting in October 2007 with the FAA, local helicopter operators, and airport proprietors to specifically address noise complaints stemming from helicopter operations along the north shore of Long Island.  While only the executive and judicial branches took formal action, the process involved significant input by these legislators as well.

The mandatory helicopter route is particularly significant because it represents divergence from several prior federal positions related to the longstanding “line in the sand” that the federal government has drawn at the 65 decibel (dB) Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) contour: 

  • First, it reflects major divergence from the prior federal position that reduction of sensitive land uses exposed to noise above 65 dB DNL was a de facto prerequisite for approval and support of noise abatement or compatible land use actions.  In its brief responding to the HAI petition, the FAA acknowledged that the route would not produce any benefit at or above this level of exposure, and noted that it “has authority to act without first demonstrating that a specific noise level has been exceeded.”  Furthermore, the FAA brief cited the “Long Island North Shore Helicopter Route Environmental Study,” which it had tasked the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to conduct.  That study concluded that prior to the adoption of the mandatory route, no residential population along the route was exposed to noise above 45 dB DNL, even on busy holiday weekends (e.g., around Memorial Day and July 4th, 2011).
  • Second, it reflected the first time – of which this author is aware – that the FAA relied on complaints as a fully sufficient basis for adoption of a formal noise abatement procedure.  In perhaps its most blunt statement regarding complaints, the FAA brief responding to the HAI petition stated “[w]hen people take the time to complain about helicopter noise to the FAA and their elected officials, there is a noise problem.”

The FAA’s justification for and defense of adopting a mandatory noise abatement rule based on noise complaints and with open acknowledgement that the benefit outside the 65 dB DNL contour by a 20dB margin is an extraordinary divergence from decades of FAA policy and decisions regarding noise compatibility actions.  As just one example, readers may recall that in its determination that the Naples (FL) Airport Authority (NAA) adoption of a ban on Stage 2 operations “was unreasonable and unjustly discriminatory” and therefore in violation of federal law, in part because the “NAA’s use of complaints … does not support a finding that the Stage 2 ban is reasonable.”  (”Director’s Determination,” FAA Docket No. 16-01-15, March 10, 2003.)

These recent actions by all three branches of the federal government clearly acknowledge that aircraft noise impacts worthy of addressing in the most formal manner need not be justified by federal land use compatibility guidelines, are not limited to particularly noisy aircraft, and do not even require quantification in decibel-based terms.

While the applicability of these actions as precedents in addressing other noise concerns across the U.S. will undoubtedly be the topic of vigorous debate for some time, airport noise stakeholders – including aircraft operators, pilots, airport proprietors, state and local government land use jurisdictions, airport neighbors, and others – should follow the federal lead in taking a fresh look at creative bases for demonstrating benefits and considering – or reconsidering – the full spectrum of noise abatement and compatible land use measures that might be applied to aircraft noise sources of local concern. 

Report from ACI-NA Environmental Affairs Conference

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

ACI-NA’s Annual Environmental Affairs Conference was held this week in Halifax, NS.  The agenda was robust and featured several innovations, including the use of TurningPoint polling technology and providing the ability for several travel-challenged speakers to participate remotely via webinar.   I had the privilege of participating directly in three sessions:

  • Is Perception Reality?  Human Health Studies & Risk Management – A Hypothetical Airport Case Study:  In this session, we conducted a “table-top” exercise of how airports respond to concerns about potential for health issues resulting from airport (noise, emissions, etc).  This interactive panel role-played an airport staff meeting – including a surprise visit by the concerned citizen, Mr. Bob Jones from Erewhon, YZ.
  • Technology Tools for Environmental Management:  this session provided an overview of GIS and other tools that are being to deployed to cost-effectively manage airport environmental issues.  My presentation, “There’s an app for that! Tools and technology for addressing aircraft noise issues” provided an overview of recent advances in noise monitoring.
  • Noise and NextGen:  I provided an update on the work of the RTCA’s CATEX 2 Working Group, which has finalized its recommendation to the NextGen Advisory Committee (it will be presented at the NAC on June 4).
Decibel 10th iphone app

Decibel 10th iphone app

Looking forward to the next Environmental Affairs Seminar in San Jose, CA at the ACI-NA Annual Conference.

First World Problems

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 1:30 PM

“Bring a book.”  That was the sage advice given to me by Chris Oswald at ACI-NA last Friday when I told him I was flying from BOS to DCA (via LGA!) on Monday, and back again on Tuesday – just as sequester furloughs are beginning to impact FAA Air Traffic Control (ironically, the trip was to attend a meeting at RTCA on accelerating implementation of NextGen performance based navigation procedures at airports).

So here I sit, at the end of Taxiway A, waiting for clearance from FAA, for what the pilot warned me (last passenger on the plane) would be a three hour delay.

dcaTaxiway

Taxiway A, DCA, April 23, 3013, 1:32PM

So far, the rest of my trip has looked like this:

  • Monday, April 22, DL 5873 (BOS-LGA), scheduled departure: 8:00 am; actual departure: 9:30 am. 
  • Monday, April 22, DL 5911 (LGA-DCA), scheduled departure 10:59 am.  CANCELED.  Rebooked on DL 5907, which was originally scheduled for 9 am, ended up leaving at 12:30 pm.
  • Tuesday, April 23, DL 5916, scheduled departure 2 pm; CANCELED.  Rebooked on DL 5914 (1pm departure), which was assigned a 3-hour delay.  Flight re-numbered to DL 5912 (previously scheduled for 11:59 am and CANCELED).  Scheduled wheels up 2:40 pm.

I know this is only the first and most obvious impact of the sequester on the average voter.  It makes me wonder what less visible – but certainly not less important – government services are being curtailed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 3:32 PM

I thought I’d be able to wrap it up after that, but fate had other plans.  Since I last checked in, DL 5914/5912 was CANCELED, I was rebooked on DL 5918 (3 pm LGA Shuttle); by the time I arrived at the gate, it had been delayed until 5 pm.  Now rebooked on DL 2045 (through DTW), scheduled for 5 pm, but delayed to 5:40 pm (so far).  Meanwhile, DL 5918 (the delayed 3 pm is back on at 4:30 pm – we’ll see!).

Hopefully, routing around NYC will be the end of this, even if it means getting home at midnight.  I keep reminding myself that I should not be frustrated, but instead thankful for many things:  I’m not rushing back for anything urgent, I’m not traveling with kids, did not check my bags, and have several credit cards in my wallet.

How did cities used to sound?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

by Nick Miller

This is a question that many of us may have wondered about, but we at HMMH together with Professor Karin Bijsterveld of the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, her students, associates and staff of the Amsterdam Museum have provided an answer.  Several years ago I became aware of Karin’s research on urban soundscapes via the internet.  I emailed her suggesting that there might be some synergies between her work on soundscapes and our work creating virtual realities with our Soundscape Builder™.  She initially responded that she didn’t think so, but over the next year, she came up with some possibilities – including demonstrating how cities used to sound.  Eventually I traveled to Maastricht, demonstrated how our Soundscape Builder™ worked, and we both thought we could develop a useful collaboration.

Over the course of the following five years, Karin put together a proposal and was funded to conduct research on sounds significant in earlier eras in Amsterdam, and to assemble an exhibit for the Amsterdam Museum.  Using sounds researched by Karin, Annelies Jacobs, Alexandra Supper and recorded by Arnoud Traa , HMMH mixed, balanced, and conditioned the sounds so that they would be realistic if heard in Dam Square in Amsterdam.

Soundscape Builder for Dam Square 1895

Soundscape Builder for Dam Square 1935

 

The Sound of Amsterdam exhibit is presented with a touch-screen and headphones.  The headphones provide the realism of binaural recordings, as does the Soundscape Builder™ referenced above.  Visitors can choose the year (1895, 1935 or 2012) and the sounds they want to hear.  The 1895 and 1935 screens provide eleven possible sources and single ones or any combination may be selected; both English and Dutch versions are provided.

The exhibit has had considerable attention with writer Warna Oosterbaan producing an article published in the NRC, a high quality Dutch national newspaper, and Arnoud Traa was interviewed on Radio 1, the most important news radio broadcaster in the Netherlands.

For me, the experience has been delightful, working with new friends, separated by thousands of miles and five time zones, but easily sending files and comments back and forth.  The grand opening to the public is 28 March 2013.

So how did Amsterdam used to sound?  Before predominance of the internal combustion engine – 1895 – the most notable difference for me was the absence of low frequency noise.  But add unmuffled cars and trucks (1935), with back firing and horns, and we become surrounded by a continuous rumbling din.