A sensible, low-cost way to drastically reduce noise at the Truckee Tahoe Airport is available within the next 12 months.
Why this matters: The Truckee community exists in one of our country’s most beautiful locations, and that beauty draws thousands of visitors every year. They come by car, by train, by bus, and by airplanes. Cars bring tailpipe pollution and traffic; and yes, airplanes bring noise. But however people get to Truckee, they come for the mountains and the Lake Tahoe experience, and frankly, there’s really no stopping this incoming tide. There is a silver lining – the Truckee Tahoe Airport is a great resource for our community, providing enormous economic benefit to everyone who lives here… whether you use the airport or not. So now we must figure out how to make smarter decisions to effectively manage its operation and growth.
Everyone who lives here agrees that the airport noise from the increased aircraft traffic is an issue. The question that must be asked, and answered, is what is the best solution to reduce aircraft noise? Contrary to what some people may have told you, the airport is not going away, and neither are the planes that use it. It is virtually impossible to close an airport that has received federal grants for capital improvements, and the Truckee Tahoe Airport has received millions of federal investment dollars over the decades of its existence. There is however a simple and sensible solution that could drastically reduce noise from the airport in the next 12 months: a published visual approach.
The problem: More than 3,600 planes fly over South Truckee neighborhoods every year, landing on the longer of the two runways at the airport, Runway 29. This is an inescapable fact under the present landing configuration, and yes, this pattern generates noise.
Thanks to the installation of the air traffic control tower in 2017, and an active radar system in 2020, the Truckee Airport has the ability to move a significant percentage of the large Jet and Turboprop plane traffic to a landing corridor that has NO Truckee Homes under the landing path. This is accomplished by developing, in conjunction with the FAA, Published Visual Approaches.
However, the airport board diverted efforts from completing the PVA and instead spent consulting dollars for a feasibility study for building a 3rd runway as a noise reduction solution. This would take at least 5 years to build at a cost of more than $40M. The FAA has reviewed and rejected this concept and has said that the runway isn’t required either for safety or noise abatement reasons. According to the Airport’s own consultants, the FAA will not fund the project.
The Sensible Solution: The quickest, lowest cost, and optimum solution for reducing airport noise is a Published Visual Approach (PVA) into Runway 29, which will avoid flights over homes near the airport.
What is a PVA?
A published visual approach is an approach to a runway at an airport conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR) but where the pilot proceeds by visual reference and clear of clouds to the airport. The pilot must at all times have either the airport or the preceding aircraft in sight.
You can find published visual approaches at towered airports around the country. They're established for environmental considerations, noise abatement procedures, and for the overall safety/efficiency of air traffic operations.
Most large aircraft traffic landing at Truckee uses generic FAA Visual Flight Rules, and most of this traffic flies over the Truckee neighborhoods before making a 180 degree turn to land on Runway 29.
Completing the Published Visual Approach for Runway 29 means that on an annual basis, thousands of jet and turboprop flights would move to a corridor flying over HWY 267 and land without flying over Truckee and other homes. This could be finalized in 2023.
So what can you do? Use your voice to write to the airport board and tell them to stop wasting time and your tax dollars on consulting and other work for a $40 million runway that will not reduce noise, is unsafe, and would never get approved by the FAA.
Write to the board and ask them to accelerate efforts to implement the Published Visual Approach for Runway 29. You can email them directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This election, you can also vote for FOTTA’s endorsed candidates, Kat Rohlf and Mike Daniel, who are open and willing to work with aviation experts to come up with sensible lower cost solutions that will accelerate noise reduction at the Truckee Tahoe Airport.
Author: FOTTA staff