Airport tries to cut noise |

Airport tries to cut noise

Naomi Havlen

In an attempt to be a good neighbor, the Aspen airport is looking into voluntary restrictions to place on jets to cut down on noise.The “fly quiet program” is the airport’s method of reducing noise at the airport. It’s part of the airport’s master plan completed at the end of 2004. A committee of representatives from the airport, Pitkin County, corporate jet operators and community members from neighborhoods close to the airport are trying to identify how Sardy Field could get a little quieter.It’s going to be a voluntary program initially because federal rules limit what airports can do to reduce noise without doing lengthy – and expensive – noise studies, said Dave Ulane, the airport’s assistant director of aviation.The current plan looks primarily at corporate jets coming in and out of the airport because of their large numbers at the airport. Ulane said there are now eight commercial airline flights a day that use jet aircraft and about 100 to 150 private jets that fly in and out of Sardy Field.Barnard Dunkelberg & Co., an aviation consultant from Tulsa who assisted in the airport’s master plan process, is helping develop the fly quiet program. Noise is currently monitored from the airport a couple of times a year from key points in the county, including Woody Creek, Buttermilk mountain and the North 40 subdivision.Rick Dunkelberg of the consulting group told Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday at a work session that noise complaints near the airport are mostly the result of older, noisier jets. He said nationally 90 percent of planes are more modern, quieter jets, while the rest are older and louder.In Aspen, that percentage is closer to 95 percent new jets to 5 percent older jets. That’s partly because jet owners in Aspen have the money to buy the more modern jets but also because older airplanes get more expensive to maintain, Ulane said.Dunkelberg told commissioners the committee is considering restrictions on how long jets can let their engines idle at the airport between flights. They also may ask fractional owners of jets via newsletters to be conscientious about flying in quieter jets when coming to Aspen.The committee is also looking into physical barriers around the airport as a noise buffer.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is