Letters to the Editor: Airport 11.16.17

Our readers' comments

Recommended

Wainscott

November 13, 2017

Dear David, 

I would like to comment on recent letters to the editor in The Star in reference to the airport that contain mostly unfounded, inaccurate, and misleading statements.

The East Hampton Aviation Association has never advocated expansion of the airport or ever denied that there are serious concerns resulting from airport operations. 

East Hampton Aviation Association has never promoted extending runways and in fact supported the proposal to shorten the secondary runway to a length 500 feet shorter than its current length of 2,500 feet.

East Hampton Aviation Association supported the construction of a summertime-only control tower as an effort to promote safer operations during peak activity, and it has not been shown to be responsible for any increase in traffic.

Runway 4/22 was closed in 2007 (not 1996) over liability concerns due to its deteriorated condition, possibly causing engine damage from ingested debris. The Federal Aviation Administration instructed the town at the time to come up with a repair plan to reopen the runway as soon as possible. To date no such plan has ever been established. 

East Hampton Aviation Association supports the reopening of Runway 4/22 as the logical and recommended choice for a secondary runway based on considerable study by the town during the airport master plan process which took 10 years and over one million dollars, paid for out of the airport budget, and consisted of studies by engineering consultants, advice from legal counsel, numerous public meetings, and a very extensive environmental impact study. It was unanimously approved by the town board in 2010 and is the only approved airport master plan recognized by the F.A.A.

East Hampton Aviation Association has never “demanded” anything, but has been involved at the invitation of the town board in the study and collection of information through its participation with the airport operations advisory committee, budget and finance advisory committee and currently the airport management advisory committee, and makes its recommendations only after considerable review and discussion of the pertinent topics.

The issue of leaded aviation fuel has been promoted by airport opponents as the major contributor to groundwater contamination when no such indications have been observed by current testing procedures or standards. The town board has recently expressed concern and will be initiating lead-specific testing as well as testing for P.F.C.s as soon as possible to determine if and where possible contamination exists.

It should be noted that 97 percent of fuel sold at East Hampton Airport is lead-free jet fuel and the fuel industry has been working for many years to formulate an approved lead-free fuel for general aviation aircraft. Fuel for aircraft must meet stringent testing standards before it can be approved for use in certificated aircraft such as the type flown by local pilots using East Hampton Airport.

East Hampton Aviation Association has always supported reasonable traffic restrictions, such as the nighttime curfews imposed by the town. However, the town board chose to ignore our recommendation to follow the procedures required by the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1991 and subsequently wasted over $2 million and two years of valuable time following poor advice, and as a result the noise-affected community was denied the relief it was promised and was expecting.

The East Hampton Aviation Association advised the town board in March of 2014 to go directly to the F.A.A. to establish a dialogue as to what options for restrictions were available, but was advised by others to ignore and defy the Airport Noise and Capacity Act by imposing restrictions without F.A.A./Department of Transportation approval, the result of which was the Second Circuit Court decision rescinding the curfews.

East Hampton Aviation Association has never been involved in any legal action against the town and is not a participant in the current lawsuits against the town by commercial operators.

Cordially, 

GENE OSHRIN 

East Hampton Aviation Association

We Were Aghast

Wainscott

November 9, 2017

Dear David:

I am compelled to respond to the Nov. 9 letter to The East Hampton Star concerning the East Hampton Airport management advisory committee meeting regarding opening runway 4/22 at East Hampton Airport captioned “Misconceptions.”

Addressing them seriatim: Wainscott and East Hampton residents feeling that their interests are not considered.

This is entirely understandable when the opening remark is that the reinstatement of the runway is for the “convenience of the pilots.” The closing remark is that property owners cannot sue as their deeds contain airport easements. Never during the more than one-hour presentation by Ron Price about wind analysis at the airport was there any mention of the fact that this runway, 4/22, is directly over residences when the present runway is over the sand pit. Nor was there any mention of the noise, pollution, or lead fuel emission from anyone on the committee. All these concerns were brought up by the audience. 

It’s amazing that the chairperson of the advisory committee’s letter to The Star thought that it was generous to allow the audience to speak for more than three minutes — we the audience, who are the ones directly impacted by the airport. Noteworthy is the fact that not one member of this committee resides in Wainscott.

As a member of the audience I did not believe a vote was on the agenda. Nor do I believe did other members of the audience. What we were aghast about was the lack of any comment from the committee or Ron Price, the presenter of the airport wind analysis study (which study was paid for by the Town of East Hampton), about the impact on the residents. Additionally, and of great significance, is the fact that neither Ron Price nor any member of the committee mentioned that these secondary runways are not really necessary. What seems to be overlooked is that the study clearly states that the airport could operate without any secondary runway, that is, keep secondary runway 4/22 closed and close exiting secondary runway 16/34. 

The report states: “Is a crosswind runway necessary? Is the lfife cycle benefit cost to improve and maintain either runway 4/22 or 16/34 justified?” This study leads one to believe that runway 4/22 should remain abandoned and the other crosswind runway 16/34 eliminated. There is no requirement to have either one of these secondary runways.

Which leads me to my final comment. Why is the issue of opening secondary runway 4/22 being considered? Why is it on any agenda? Why is town money being spent for a wind study to open secondary runway 4/22 that the Federal Aviation Administration deems abandoned? Why is the town considering keeping secondary runway 16/34 open? Why is the town going to spend millions of dollars to improve secondary runway 16/34? 

It appears that the misconception is that the wrong issue is being considered. Removing both secondary runways should be the topic for consideration.

Regards,

LARAINE BELLINI HAYES

Deemed Abandoned

Wainscott

November 13, 2017

Dear David,

Attending the meeting of the airport management advisory committee on Oct. 27, concerning a Federal Aviation Administration abandoned runway was to hopefully allow the committee to understand the concerns about the safety and health of residents of Wainscott, none of whom are represented on the committee. When I read the statement that the consideration was for the “convenience of the pilots” to reopen an abandoned runway that has been closed for over 10 years, I was startled. 

Not a word about the safety of families who would be placed in harm’s way by the low flying off the abandoned runway, often not more than 30 to 50 feet above the treetops. The F.A.A deemed it “dangerous at its intersections with other runways and was unnecessary.” What part of that do they not understand? They were asked the number of accidents since the closure. It had to be asked several times and finally a quiet “none.”

It centered around the crosswind coverage of the other secondary runway 16/34, which according to a “historical wind study” compiled by the leading authority on flight, none other than the F.A.A., said that it is safer.

It seems the pilot on the committee discounted this study and the recent study from Gabreski. I question his professional scientific qualifications. In another publication, he states that the runway would be used only by small planes — landing and not taking off? A while back, he mentioned an extremely low number of operations exiting over homes to the southwest. Of course, he never saw and is apparently unaware of the almost 200 or more homes to the east that were in danger from the low altitude just over the treetops. I guess he is oblivious when he practices touch-and-go at low altitudes over the same route time and time again.

What he fails to mention, for obvious reasons, is that, if opened, anyone except jet planes could use this runway for takeoffs as well as landings. He and no one else can prevent this. It will be open 24 hours a day and in past years they came and went just over the treetops. Increase the flights over homes and families while the town has tried to do the opposite!

Since it is documented that most plane crashes involve small planes, it seems that the safety of residents are relegated to the question of why isn’t their safety paramount vs. the “convenience of the pilots?” Certainly no one wants to see anyone get hurt or killed. Flying is a risk and discounting this is off the charts.

So a handful of pilots who are not even town residents have seen fit to cost the town money for a wind study and to spend millions for their “convenience” for a runway that the F.A.A. deemed abandoned. Of course, they also failed to mention that the F.A.A. doesn’t require that airports have secondary runways. Is that why the wind consultant, in his other considerations, asks, “Is a crosswind runway necessary?” So why don’t the pilots even mention one word of concern about safety of those on the ground? Self-centered and arrogant! Add the contaminated drinking water!

Yours truly,

ARTHUR J. FRENCH