Friday, April 20, 2012

OPINION: Airport plan won't raise sound level - Murfreesboro Municipal (KMBT), Tennessee

April 19, 2012
Written by Larry Williams

 MURFREESBORO — I am an aviation safety expert with many years experience conducting safety audits, airline certifications, administration of airmen flight checks, investigating aircraft accidents and ultimately providing the safest national airspace system in the world as an FAA Aviation Safety inspector for over 30 years.

I was recently appointed as the Aircraft Owner’s and Pilots Association (AOPA) Airport Safety Network volunteer for the Murfreesboro Airport. AOPA is the largest aviation association in the world (over 400,000 members) and advocates long-term health of general aviation by educating pilots, non-pilots and policy makers on behalf of our members. The Murfreesboro Airport Commission has recently recommended the city move forward with the extension of the present runway to 5,000 feet. The FAA required environmental assessment completed in Dec. 5, 2011, states in part, “…is not anticipated to create any adverse noise impacts. Therefore, no mitigation measures for noise impacts are required.”

The study forecast a total of 11 additional turbojet operations annually and “These aircraft, and others with similar noise characteristics, are not noisier than many propeller driven aircraft currently using the airport.” The experts advise that there will be no adverse noise impact.

Unfortunately, some misinformation has been publicized by local neighborhood groups opposing the planned extension such as a recent Bradford Place Community Association’s March newsletter states: “It is the opinion of the BPCA board that extending the runway to allow light jet and turbo fan aircraft to land at Murfreesboro Airport would have detrimental effects on the surrounding communities both fiscally and in our quality of life. We do not oppose improving the airport. What we oppose is extending the runway to allow larger planes, turbofan, and jets to land at Murfreesboro Municipal Airport. We further oppose any attempt to get an exemption that would allow larger planes, turbofan, and jets to land at Murfreesboro Municipal Airport. We have been advised that we could expect decreased property value if this is allowed. Research also shows that light jet traffic is up to 30 times louder than the current prop plane traffic at Murfreesboro Airport.”

Thirty times louder? This statement cannot be true as the loudest theoretically possible sound is 358 db. The typical piston aircraft averages about 65 db, so 30 times that would equal 1,950 db, which is over five times the loudest sound possible. To put this in perspective, a Space Shuttle launch registers 215 db, and a one-ton bomb creates a decibel count of 210 at 250 feet from the impact. Government data actually show that a typical single-engine piston aircraft such as a Cessna 182 registers 70.0 db on takeoff compared to a typical corporate jet such as a Cessna Citation 560, which registers 69.4 db. Cessna Citations and many other jets now operate at the Murfreesboro Airport, and corporate jets have been operating here since 1968. Jets don’t necessarily produce more noise. A Boeing 757 is quieter on takeoff (69.6 db) than many piston aircraft such as the Cessna 182.

The extension of the runway will not allow larger or noisier aircraft to land at Murfreesboro, as the runway is weight restricted to 35,000 pounds single wheel and 55,000 dual wheel. I urge the decision makers to review the environmental assessment and examine the true facts concerning the proposed runway extension and move forward with the recommendation of the Murfreesboro Airport Commission to extend the runway.
Larry Williams is a resident of Sanford Drive in Murfreesboro.

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