Posts Tagged ‘PBN’

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).

 

 

LTC Kurt Hellauer

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I thought I’d take a moment to recognize the deployment of Kurt Hellauer, LTC US Army.  Kurt joined us a little over a year ago, and has been an invaluable contributor to our recent (and ongoing) PBN NEPA projects, including the Midway Airspace Redesign Environmental Assessment, the Houston OAPM Environmental Assessment, and the North Texas OAPM Environmental Assessment.  He will be on active duty in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom beginning next week.

It is particularly poignant for Kurt and his family as they have finally moved to Boston just this week!  So it was with much happiness, some sorrow, and a great deal of pride that we simultaneously welcomed Kurt to the neighborhood and said goodbye for a time.  Please join me in wishing Kurt well on his journey and supporting Amie, Mary, and Erin as they also begin a new chapter of their lives in Massachusetts!

A toast to Erin, Kurt, and Amie Hellauer!

A toast to Erin, Kurt, and Amie Hellauer!

I was going to write something about the sacrifices that military families make.  And then I found this, which I think sums it up nicely:

“In our military families, we see the best our country has to offer. They demonstrate the virtues that have made America great for more than two centuries and the values that will preserve our greatness for centuries to come. With loved ones serving far from home, military spouses take on the work of two. Their children show courage and resilience as they move from base to base, school to school, home to home. And even through the strain of deployment, military families strengthen the fabric of each community they touch and enrich our national life as shining examples of patriotism.”   –  Barak Obama, 2012

Thank you for your service, Hellauer Family!

Sustainable Opulence

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Vegas, Baby.  Just returned from four days in Vegas, attending the ACI-NA Environmental Affairs Conference and the TRB Environmental Impacts of Aviation (AV030) Mid-year meeting. 

This year the Environmental Affairs Conference teamed with the Operations and Technical Affairs Conference.  There were several joint sessions, most notably on Integrating RNAV/RNP into the airport setting.  Other hot topics included:

  • Further discussion of FAA’s impending Program Guidance Letter on Residential Sound Insulation.  Latest word is that ACI-NA and other industry groups will have an opportunity to review the draft shortly.  Stand by.
  • Air toxics and other ongoing air quality studies in the Los Angeles area.
  • Strategies for noise stringency at upcoming CAEP meeting.
  • PBN implementation and integration with airports:  “NextGen begins and ends at airports”.

Our TRB meeting covered a lot of ground in a few hours, including:

I had been dreading holding two environmental meetings in Las Vegas, which I have long considered one of the least sustainable places on earth.  However, after listening to these two guys talk about water conservation initiatives in Las Vegas – not just including the Strip, but especially the Strip – I was quite impressed.  Following the meeting, several of us had dinner in the Aria Hotel, which has achieved USGBC LEED Gold Certification.   More on the City Center’s Environmental Commitment – including an on-site cogeneration plant, specially designed low flow shower heads, and CNG limos here.  My only wish is that it would be more visible to the tourist with an environmental conscience.  This is one of those cases where what happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas.

Keeping with its commitment to sustainability, CityCenter has commissioned the first stretch-limo fleet powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).

 

Got PBN?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Apologies for the somewhat belated post, but here’s a quick recap of the recent UC Davis Noise and Air Quality Symposium: Navigating NextGen, held March 4-6 in Palm Springs, CA.

The focus of much of the discussion at this year’s symposium was implementation of the FAA’s NextGen Program, the early phases of which are now being rolled out across the country.  This blog has discussed NextGen issues before, but I think this was the first conference I’ve attended that attendees were uniformly focused on finding ways to make implementation a success.

The symposium keynote was delivered by Dennis Roberts of the FAA’s ATO. Dennis is responsible for managing FAA’s Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (OAPM) “metroplex” projects, a systematic, integrated, and accelerated program to implement satellite based navigation in the aviation system.   HMMH is involved in several of the metroplex projects, including the Houston Metroplex, which is on the President’s Federal Infrastructure Dashboard, which was initiated to monitor the pace of DOT efforts to accelerate major infrastructure projects by improving permitting and environmental review processes, and to improve the accountability, transparency, and efficiency of Federal actions. 

Other sessions focused on providing an overview of NextGen technologies and Performance Based Navigation (PBN) terminology, as well as airport experiences implementing and collaborating with FAA on the implementation of procedures at their airports.  The takeaway message from the entire symposium is that there is an urgent need for airports to get involved with NextGen airspace planning – airports understand local issues and provide a critical link between communities and the FAA.  Many airports have also spent years developing noise abatement programs and must be at the table to ensure that airspace planners understand both the spirit and substance of noise abatement.  As active participants in several of these projects, we at HMMH believe that this collaborative approach will be critical to early success of NextGen.

Presentations for the symposium can be found here (click on the presenter’s name).  Next year’s symposium will be held in Orange County, CA.  Please let me know if you have suggestions for topics for discussion.

NEPA and NextGen: Airports can bridge the gap between industry and the public

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Discussion of NextGen and NEPA issues was a hot topic at the U.C. Davis Noise and Air Quality Symposium earlier this month – not only in “formal” sessions and presentations, but informally over dinners, cocktails, and networking sessions.  Jason Schwartz of the Port of Portland presented a great graphic which summarizes the central role of airports in this discussion:

Courtesy of Jason Schwartz, Port of Portland

Of critical importance – and a potential significant benefit from the perspective of FAA officials tasked with rolling out performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures as quickly as possible – will be the role airports can play in outreach.  I believe this will be the key to maximizing understanding and minimizing controversy (and thus avoiding costly and lengthy environmental processes).

As shown in Jason’s slide, airports are uniquely positioned to understand the technical issues and urgency of industry to implement the procedures as well as the concerns of the community and elected officials to preserve their quality of life.   Airports can bridge this gap by engaging both sides in a constructive discussion and evaluation of environmental impacts (and benefits!) resulting from implementation of PBN.  We have been involved in such discussions at Denver International Airport, which FAA hopes to use as a model for collaborative engagement for its integrated National Airspace and Procedures Plan (otherwise known as the “Metroplex Project”).

The FAA is taking a major step to loosen key bottlenecks in metroplexes, the busy metropolitan areas where multiple airports and competing airspace lead to less-than-efficient operations.  The FAA intends to design integrated airspace and new procedures to de-conflict arrivals and departures in an initiative that will reach 21 such areas by 2016.

Source: FAA 2010

The goal of the Metroplex Project is to implement more efficient operations in metroplex areas. Study teams with representatives of the FAA and the aviation community will provide an expeditious but comprehensive front-end strategic look at each metroplex.  They will analyze operational challenges, assess current and planned airspace and procedures efforts, and explore new opportunities for solutions that are tailored individually to each metroplex. Once a study team has come up with the right changes for its metroplex, a design and implementation team will develop the changes and put them in place.  The first two metroplex areas – North Texas and Washington D.C. – have been identified as prototypes for early analysis.  The FAA has completed the initial concept studies for each and soon will be entering the design phase similar to the recent effort at Denver.  The next five metroplexes identified for study are: Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, N.C., Northern California, and Southern California.

For a great summary on NextGen Implementation, read this report from FAA.

HMMH will be assisting the FAA to prepare NEPA documents for the upcoming metroplex studies.  I look forward to working with airports – the local experts – to identify important community and local government representatives and strategies for outreach.

As Chad Leqve of Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport pointed out on several occasions during the symposium, the rollout of PBN procedures presents a rare opportunity to achieve meaningful noise reduction over noise-sensitive communities.  We should not squander that opportunity.