Aircraft noise shield nears completion on Sea Island

Civic politicians lauded the Vancouver Airport Authority’s ground run-up enclosure Monday as a point of victory in the war against aircraft noise.

“This will make a huge difference to people, for example, who live in the Terra Nova area,” said Coun. Sue Halsey-Brandt.

Construction began in April of a $12-million ground run-up enclosure for propeller-engine aircraft at South Terminal. The three-sided structure with no roof will stand 11 metres high and serve as a shield for noise caused by routine aircraft engine maintenance tests.

As many as 15 such tests are done each day, most done with propeller engines. Officials say noise levels will drop by 11 decibels—or 50 per cent—for residents who live south of Sea Island.

The building is scheduled to be completed in December, making YVR the only airport in Canada with such an enclosure.

Richmond’s two citizen representatives on the airport authority’s noise management committee—Haydn Acheson and Margot Spronk—called it “the most significant development” to report on in their first semi-annual status report to council.

Coun. Linda Barnes recently toured the construction site.

“We’re creating something new and it’s a very large part due to this committee and to our staff to continuing to let YVR know that their noise is not acceptable and they need to find ways in which to [control] that.”

A staff report considered Monday also noted progress on other noise issues identified by a city task force last year—including float plane operations.

By the city’s urging, airport staff analyzed how closely pilots followed recommended flight paths last summer. They found 98 per cent complied with the routes, but aircraft altitude wasn’t measured. According to a staff report, float plane operators have since pledged to undertake regular flight path training.

City staff also noted new restrictions on the use of reverse thrust on the south runway, something already in effect for the north runway.

Richmond residents lodged 196 noise complaints with the airport in 2010—about 16 per cent of all complaints in the region.

But resident Doug Louth, who has long called for restrictions on night flights, told council Monday he no longer bothers making complaints, and suggested there are others like him. According to city staff, the frequency of flights between midnight and 6 a.m. of both cargo and passenger aircraft haven’t changed in several years.

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