Thursday, September 2, 2004

Airport's noise will dip,
then escalate, officials say

By James Pilcher
Enquirer staff writer

ERLANGER - Noise levels around the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will dip next year when cargo carrier DHL closes its hub. But the noise will return to current levels in 2010, airport officials said Wednesday.

The findings are part of an ongoing $1.2 million study to mitigate noise levels. Preliminary noise "boundaries" were presented at a meeting of the committee advising the airport on that study.

"What they hear now is what they will hear then. ... We're only trying to be realistic," airport noise abatement manager Barb Schempf said.

Wednesday's meeting was the first for the committee since DHL's June announcement that it was closing its hub here next fall and consolidating all of its U.S. operations in Wilmington, about 50 miles northeast of Cincinnati.

Previously, the study had considered what would happen if DHL consolidated here - possibly tripling the number of nighttime flights.

Schempf told the committee that in the days immediately after DHL closes its hub, nighttime flights would drop significantly. But she added that the airport is a prime location for another cargo carrier - and that airport officials will actively court other entries.

"Based on that best guess, we need to plan for that," Schempf said, pointing out that the analysis on future noise levels showed that flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. will be only slightly lower than they are now.

Schempf and local Federal Aviation Administration tower chief Darryl Collins also said the tests that the FAA has been conducting for more efficient nighttime use of the airport will continue.

They said several of the different options being tested, including starting nighttime operations an hour later and using different departure patterns, have worked to make the airport more efficient, but that more data on noise impacts needs to be gathered.


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