Chandler is turning to residents and pilots to help better track noise at its airport and reduce complaints about noisy aircraft.
The city is considering higher altitudes for aircraft and voluntary time restrictions on some kinds of flights. Also, Chandler is weighing the benefit of a flight tracking system that would let the public go online to get elevation, aircraft and other information about flights.
The noise study is the first the city’s done since 1999, and much has changed around the Chandler Municipal Airport since then, said Chelle Daily, chairwoman of the Chandler Airport Commission.
“There used to be more cows than people out here,” she said. “Now all the cows have gone away and homes have been built.”
The study so far recommends raising the altitudes for various operations. Helicopter training altitudes would rise 100 feet, to 1,900 feet above sea level. Airplane training would rise 50 feet, to 2,250 feet.
Helicopter arrivals and departures would rise 200 feet to 2,000 feet, and airplane arrival and departures would go up 100 feet, to 2,300 feet.
By comparison, the airport’s elevation is 1,243 feet above sea level. Pilots suggested the change even though that requires them using more fuel, airport manager Greg Chenoweth said. That’s a sign pilots are willing to help reduce noise, he said.
“It’s not going to be a huge reduction, but any little bit we can reduce it by, that’s a huge benefit,” Chenoweth said.
Another proposed change would limit repetitive flight training between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekends. Federal law only allows voluntary restrictions, Chenoweth said.
The training at late hours was one of neighbors’ top concerns, he said.
Noise complaints had risen, from 5 to 10 a month a decade ago to 20 or more a month about two years ago, Chenoweth said. They’ve gone back to the lower numbers, he said, largely because the recession has reduced the number of flights.
The study allows Chandler to request federal funding for noise reduction measures, and one method could include a flight track monitoring system. That system would help residents know if aircraft violate altitude rules — which could prove helpful because it’s difficult for many people to accurately guess how high an aircraft is.
Daily recalled how she was in the air traffic control tower once when a massive military plane appeared to be just above the ground, while some tiny aircraft seemed much higher. But the equipment told a different story.
“That military plane was far above the little planes,” she said. “It’s really perspective. Your eyes can really play tricks on you.”
A federal grant would cover nearly all the tracking system’s cost. Residents could go online to get detailed information within minutes of a plane’s flight. Chenoweth said residents have mixed feelings about whether the system would cut noise, and more study is needed before the city proposes buying it.
Daily said the system would likely show very few aircraft fly outside the patterns or altitudes they’re required to follow. Daily, who lives just south of the airport, said most residents aren’t bothered by the airport. The airport and its pilots have done nearly everything they can to reduce noise, Daily said, so the study’s biggest benefit may come in tracking noise complaints.
“There really is not that much that we can do to change the noise,” she said.
The city will finish the study this summer and submit it to the Federal Aviation Administration for a review that takes 180 days. Chandler will present the study’s current recommendations from 6 to 8 p.m. May 6 at the City Council Chambers, 22 S. Delaware St.
Residents can view the study at www. wilbursmith.com/chandlerpart150 or call (480) 782-3540 for more information.