I am a local recreational pilot and believe the East Hampton Airport should remain open and fully operational.
I would like to bring up a few points. While no solution is going to be perfect, there are existing tools and regulations readily available to reduce this problem.
A) By working with the Federal Aviation Administration, we can upgrade our surrounding airspace to Class E or upgrade our terminal area, including Gabreski and Montauk, to an enhanced Class D or Class C, and enforce higher required weather minimums, higher minimum altitudes and require all operating aircraft departing, arriving or taxiing to obtain a clearance. This upgrade would also enable our community to control the airspace as companies roll out vertical takeoff and landing craft and drone delivery services.
B) The town can enforce the current noise abatement procedures and curfews.
C) The town can expand the control tower operations from May 1 to October 31.
Let’s try the above recommendations for a period of time and then see if there should be additional steps or modifications.
As for air pollution, at the last meeting, the town’s expert stated that over 90 percent of the air pollution in the town is from vehicular traffic. Less than 6 percent is from aircraft. With the introduction of unleaded fuel, which was recently approved by the FAA, the emissions from aircraft will drop even further.
If we truly want to reduce air pollution, there should be greater efforts to reduce vehicular traffic in the town, as well as curtail the boats, yachts and super-yachts clogging our waterways and harbors, which are emitting pollutants into the water and air.
In short, it’s disingenuous and misguided to target aviation as posing a substantial and inordinate threat to the town’s air quality and environment, when its a de minimus contributor.
A few ideas to improve the airport for the community:
Solar arrays should be installed at the airport and on the hangars, to produce low-cost electricity for the town and reduce the carbon footprint of the airport to possibly net zero.
We should build an educational center and offer an aviation curriculum for high schoolers.
A restaurant and aviation museum should be added to the terminal building, as well as an aviation-themed playground for our local children and families.
In conclusion, I simply ask why has the town not encouraged all parties to sit down and try to collaborate on a mutually agreeable solution. Maybe the use of third-party mediation should be considered to assist in crafting a solution.
This is an issue that deserves thorough input and review, not extreme and punitive decisions. The time is now for all of us to work together as a community.
One fine body…