When the Sabena Airline Training Center moved to Falcon Field in Mesa, Ariz., the airport went from the twelfth busiest general aviation airport in the nation to the fourth. The airport’s success, however, has caused strife with some of its neighbors.
Nearby residents have complained about noise from flight training at Falcon Field. The city has been working with stakeholders to find solutions, and AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn and Western Regional Representative Stacy Howard engaged with local decision leaders and elected officials last week to hear details of voluntary noise abatement procedures and local pilots’ efforts to ease tensions.
"Pilots can help improve the airport’s relationship with the community by being mindful of noise abatement procedures, and AOPA is working with pilots and officials in Mesa to find solutions to the noise complaints," Dunn said. "Mandatory noise restrictions would not be a positive solution and would only drive a wedge between the airport and community. Instead, involving pilots in the solution and supporting ’flying friendly’ programs can spread good practices and help make good neighbors."
Mesa created the Falcon Field Task Force, a seven-member citizen group, to come up with voluntary measures to help resolve complaints about aircraft noise and possible safety risks at the airport. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Otto Shill participated in the task force, which submitted recommendations for the airport in August.
During his visit to Falcon Field, Dunn met with the airport manager, assistant city manager, and mayor of Mesa to discuss noise issues at the airport. In discussing the task force recommendations with Mayor Scott Smith, he expressed AOPA’s opposition to recommendation 14, which suggested raising the minimums for the nondirectional beacon approach. Dunn told Smith AOPA would oppose that measure since it may make the NDB approach unusable, and Smith indicated he would not do so without FAA concurrence.
AOPA will provide Local Airports – Access to America and Flying Friendly DVDs to the city, and Smith will work with a local cable access channel to air the Local Airports DVD in order to educate local residents on the value of the airport and why the airport is important to them even if they don’t fly. Local pilots can be good neighbors by becoming familiar with the published noise abatement procedures for Falcon Field, and they can support the airport by participating in the local political processes, Dunn said.