Posts Tagged ‘Noise Research Roadmap’

Report from ACI-NA Annual Conference and Pre-conference Workshops

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’m still collecting my thoughts from nearly a week in Pittsburgh at ACI-NA’s 19th Annual Conference and Exhibit.  Here are the highlights:


I attended the GRI Workshop on Friday, September 24th (that would be the workshop that preceded the pre-conference seminar).  For those of you unfamiliar with the Global Reporting Initiative, it is an international framework for reporting on sustainability initiatives.  Four North American airports (Denver International, Portland International, San Diego International, and Toronto Pearson International) have participated over the last two years in the development of a Draft Airport Operator Sector Supplement (AOSS).  As the name implies, the AOSS is meant to provide additional airport-specific sustainability information that is not already provided through the G3 Sustainability Guidelines, which is the cornerstone of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework.  One obvious example is aircraft noise.  Here is a description of the proposed new performance indicator for airports to report on noise exposure:

  • 2.1 Identify the index most widely used in your country or at your airport to calculate the number and percentage change of people residing in areas affected by noise. Where no indicator exists, report using the Day Night Level (DNL), showing the number of people exposed to (55 and) 65 DNL. Where the metric covers a 24 hour period, information on noise during the night-time period can be expressed using a default Leq metric for an 8 hour period. The reporter must define the 8 hour period although flexibility is provided to set the start time to reflect cultural differences (for example, some reporters may regard night as being 22.00 to 06.00, while others may think 23.00 to 07.00 is more appropriate to local circumstances). 
  • 2.2 Specify the metric and the time period adopted and the thresholds applied for calculating exposure. To aid comparability between airports, the reporting threshold chosen should reflect the onset of significant annoyance.
  •  2.3 Report the number and percentage change of people residing in areas affected by noise. If metrics exist to calculate the number and percentage change of people residing in areas affected by noise for both day and night periods, please report information for both.

I’m still trying to interpret this recommendation, but my guess is that U.S. airports will be fine to simply report on the number of people exposed to DNL 65 dB and higher.  What’s not clear is whether airports should also report on the number of people exposed to DNL 55 dB and higher (not a common practice for most US airports).  This is an even more complicated question when you consider the statement that “the reporting threshold chosen should reflect the onset of significant annoyance” in the context of current ISO and other efforts to update the Schultz Curve.

Environmental Affairs Seminar

The Environmental Affairs Seminar was a two-day whirlwind of updates on a range of environmental issues facing airports:

Presentations from the seminar will be posted on the ACI-NA website shortly.

Then the conference began.

The annual conference is generally pretty light on substance (a good thing, after three days of intense meetings), but I did enjoy two sessions in particular:

Nick Bilton, Source: ACI-NA

Nick Bilton, Source: ACI-NA

  • Nick Bilton, lead technology writer for the New York Times Bits Blog gave an engaging keynote address on the use of technology and communication, with a particular emphasis on social networking.  I learned about foursquare, and though I don’t have enough of a social life to take advantage, I can see that it offers potential for airports.  He also showed an amazing video on instantaneous information flow, as illustrated by the death of Michael Jackson.
  • Deb Meehan of SH&E also gave an entertaining update on state of the airline industry.  She emphasized her belief that airline profits in the last 18 months have come at the expense of the traveling public – especially in terms of comfort – and that we should look for airlines to start competing on service.

 Looking forward to next year in San Diego!

Report from UC Davis

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I attended the UC Davis ‘Eco-Aerovision’ Symposium in San Diego this week.  The symposium was created 25 years ago to provide a forum for California airport noise officers to share ideas, challenges, and war stories.  Over the years, the symposium has gone through significant transformation, and is now an annual international gathering of airport staff, community members, operators, land use planners, regulators, manufacturers, and academics to collaborate on a range of environmental topics that stymie airports, including noise, air quality, and climate.

Navigating Sustainability

Navigating Sustainability

I would say that there were two general themes that were reinforced throughout the conference:

  • First, we have been at this (noise challenge) for a long time, and it’s probably fair to say that there’s not much “low hanging fruit” left.  This suggests that the challenges that remain are difficult, and will continue to get even more so.  Several sessions supported this theme, including a discussion of Noise Beyond DNL 65, facilitated by Jessica Steinhilber of ACI-NA and Dan Frazee of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
  • Second, that addressing noise issues at airport is a very long term prospect.  Two good examples were provided by Flavio Leo of Massport and Mary McCarthy, who talked about the 32-year history of building a new runway at Boston-Logan International Airport, and 14 recent legal challenges to the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace Redesign.  Ultimately, it seems, runways will be built and airspace will be re-designed to suit more efficient air travel (the FAA’s 20-0 track record on significant NEPA challenges was touted by Ted Boling of CEQ during his keynote address).  Our challenge it seems, is to make the process be as transparent, honest, and fair to airport neighbors as possible.

To that end, the FAA’s Office of Aviation Policy, Planning & Environment conducted its final workshop supporting development of a Noise Research Roadmap.  Like the symposium, this day-long session was an honest and far-ranging discussion of research needs to advance our understanding of noise issues and to identify “actionable hypotheses” and research projects that could be conducted to accomplish those goals.

Finally, at the risk of narcissism, I was humbled (and COMPLETELY STUNNED) to receive the 2010 Walt Gillfillan Award for “exemplary work addressing the challenges of reducing the environmental impacts of aviation”.  Many thanks to those who found me deserving of the nomination.