Sunday, February 8, 2004

Lunken under scrutiny


Meeting to hear progress of
noise study, master plan

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

EAST END - Another showdown over noise and runway expansion at Lunken Airport is expected Monday when some Cincinnati City Council members discuss studies that will help shape the airport's future.

Dozens of neighbors opposed to expansion and others pushing for it are expected to pack the 3 p.m. community information session at Executive Jet Management, 4556 Airport Rd.

That's where City Council's Community Development, Education and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will receive an update from airport and city staff members.

There is a long-running controversy over noise from planes taking off and landing at Lunken amid a push to expand the 75-year-old airport.

BETTER NOISE MONITORING AT LUNKEN

The city's aviation division has spent than $350,000 in an Airscene Aircraft Tracking and Noise Monitoring System at Lunken Airport.

An expansion of the system's noise monitoring antennas should be complete in April.

"Airscene" is an automated aircraft identification, auditing and data acquisition system. It allows airport staff to more expeditiously and accurately respond to and investigate aircraft noise complaints, says Dan Dickten, the airport's general manager.

A basic single antenna Airscene System installed in 2001 identifies aircraft landing and taking off from the airport.

Multiple antennas are being added to surrounding neighborhoods to expand the system's capabilities to identify aircraft within a five to six mile radius of the airport.

Antennas will be installed on existing towers in Anderson Township, Indian Hill, Norwood and Northern Kentucky to acquire aircraft data in a full 360 degree range.

Five additional noise monitors permanently will be installed at strategic neighborhood locations, including one on the airport, to monitor aircraft noise on a 24-hour basis. This allows the airport staff to better research noise complaints by comparing actual noise data with aircraft location and identification information, Dickten says.

Two studies are under way: a noise study expected to conclude soon and a master plan update that should wrap up this summer.

Friends of Lunken, a group of airport users, neighbors and others who support the airport, say decisions need to be made.

Committee chairman David Crowley said, "Where council has been at fault in the past, particularly on the airport oversight advisory board, is they would meet and try to negotiate things and council didn't pay attention to them."

Pressure for Lunken's expansion increased recently when Procter & Gamble announced it wanted to store at Lunken a new corporate jet that needs a longer and better runway and more hangar space.

Last year, City Council put a moratorium on any discussion about passenger service at Lunken until the city completes the airport master plan update, necessary to change Lunken's Federal Aviation Administration certification. Both the update and the noise study will go to City Council for approval and then on to the FAA for review.

P&G, however, may not be willing to wait that long.

"We believe that housing P&G airplane operations at Lunken is in P&G's, and the city's, best interest," Louise Hughes, P&G's director of Ohio government relations, recently wrote to Mayor Charlie Luken.

City officials stress that any changes to the airport will be publicly made before Cincinnati City Council - and then again to the FAA.

"We are committed to an open, transparent process that will involve public input," said Eileen Enabnit, director of the city's department of transportation and engineering.

"The way that we have approached the master planning process and noise study has exceeded the FAA requirements for public input."

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.




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