Tue, Feb 1, 2022 • Westchester Airport
To: County Executive George Latimer
From: Coalition to Prevent Westchester Airport Expansion prepared by Anne Gold
Re: Executive Summary Report on Curfews at US Airports
Date Presented: January 26, 2022 at meeting for VRFF Best Practices WebEx January 26, 2022, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Attendees: Airport: Aviva Meyer, Director of Policy & Programs, Health & Infrastructure, April Gasparri, Airport Manager Steve Ferguson, Assistant Airport Manager, John Inserra, Noise Abatement Officer, and Coalition: George Klein, Robert Fleisher, Peter Schlactus and Anne Gold
Cover Letter to Full Memo
The Coalition’s research reveals over 50 US airports with overnight curfews. We reviewed all available websites to highlight the scope of curfews and measures taken to enforce or encourage adherence to curfews, especially with respect to voluntary curfews. Part One of our report highlights seven of these cases and their potential applicability to HPN. Part Two acknowledges existing procedures supporting HPN’s VRFF are limited and do not appear especially effective. We list a number of initiatives that could be taken locally to incorporate best practices from other airports with more robust curfew support efforts.
Initiatives to support greater curfew compliance fall into one of several approaches:
The airport appears to have ample financial resources to support such initiatives, including the engagement of an expert consultant like HMMH with successful experience advising airports on these kinds of initiatives. In addition, we suggest the use of a portion of federal stimulus funds go toward efforts to increase and measure curfew compliance at the County airport.
To: County Executive George Latimer
From: Coalition to Prevent Westchester Airport Expansion prepared by Anne Gold
Re: Report on Curfews at US Airports
There are two parts to this report. The first part details research findings. Upon your request the Coalition has looked at curfew initiatives in place around the United States to determine what might be new or notable. Highlights and notable programs are described in Part One.
Part Two outlines existing curfew procedures at the Westchester County Airport including noise abatement and the VRFF (Voluntary Restraint From Flying). While voluntary we have identified some ways the County might promote these policies to encourage participation. Many of the recommendations in Part Two originally appeared in the White Paper Critiquing Airport Privatization and Master Plan.
Boeing’s website has a comprehensive database titled Airports with Noise and Emissions Restrictions that provides information on noise related restrictions at airports. It reveals there are almost 50 airports in the US with curfews. All the available websites were visited to compile this memo.
There are three primary types of curfew initiatives
1) Voluntary Time of Day Restrictions – Nighttime Curfew with no financial penalties
2) Mandated Curfew (*grandfathered in prior to 1990) with a financial penalty structure
3) Operational, noise restrictions, during nighttime with a financial penalty
*In 1990 Congress passed legislation that made it extremely difficult for airports to initiate curfews or other noise and access restrictions. This Federal legislation "grandfathered" all existing noise/access restrictions at other airports that had such restrictions, which is less than 12 commercial airports in the whole country. These airports already had noise restrictions that were allowed to remain in place.
** Airports with grandfathered, mandated curfews include: LBG Long Beach, CA, and SNA John Wayne. Since HPN is not eligible to enforce fines or penalties airports with mandatory curfews these models are not included in this report.
Please read highlights of recent curfew initiatives as well as working examples of each voluntary curfew types here:
The King County International Airport-Boeing Field, Washington County, Washington
The King County International Airport-Boeing Field voluntary curfew runs from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. As part of the Master Plan update process a comment was submitted that asked if it was within the scope of the master plan to place mandatory curfew on flights after midnight. The written response to the comment maintained that it was not within the scope of the MP Update to evaluate curfews. The ability of local airport sponsors to unilaterally implement curfews and/or restrictions that affect access to a publicly funded/public-use airport by any type of aircraft has been removed by Congress and authority given to FAA
Possible Action: None currently
Los Angeles’ Van Nuys Airport
The Van Nuys Airport Association, a non-profit tenant membership group, is working closely with airport staff to enact a voluntary Preferential Jet Departure Program. Through this initiative, aircraft operators are requested to indicate their commitment to fully reducing nighttime jet departures possible via a formal letter of agreement. Key elements of the program are the development of tenant best practices and extensive outreach to aircraft operators. Simultaneously they are working closely to enact a voluntary Quieter Nights Program to fully reduce nighttime jet operations. Key elements include the development of tenant best practices, plus extensive and ongoing outreach to aircraft operators. To increase incentives for compliance, this program will be incorporated into Van Nuys Airport’s existing Friendly Flyer Awards Program.
Possible Action: Establish a Preferential Jet Departure Program membership group, enact a Quieter Nights program, reinstate, and expand HPN’s version of the Friendly Flyer Awards positive recognition program to include letters, and banners in the airport,
Seattle-Tacoma (Sea -Tac) International Airport – Port of Seattle, Washington
The Late-Night Noise Limitation Program enacted in 2019 is a voluntary Port of Seattle program designed to reduce late night noise at SEA Airport by encouraging air carriers to fly during less noise-sensitive hours or transition to quieter aircraft. The program was developed to increase air carrier awareness of the impact of aircraft noise on local communities. It focuses on the hours of 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. to captures noise levels for any take-offs and landings between these hours Reports out any exceedances of noise thresholds to the public and air carriers on a quarterly basis and posts the top offenders on their website. Each quarter Airlines with exceedances during late night hours are displayed on their website along with their late-night total operations and the exceedance percentage of their late-night total operations.
The “Fly Quiet Incentive Award Program” was developed by Sea-Tac staff and a citizen advisory committee to increase airline and pilot awareness of the impact of aircraft noise on local communities. Recognition of the Fly Quiet Award recipients includes public acknowledgment through a congratulatory notice placed a national airline magazine and banners placed in the main terminal at SEA. Smaller banners can be made for individual airlines
Possible Action: Westchester Airport could create a similar incentive awards program.
Suffolk, NY’s Francis S. Gabreski Airport
The Gabreski noise abatement program includes a Voluntary Flight Curfew between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily. The airport provides recommended departure and arrival procedures, maintains a comprehensive noise report data base, and deploys an aggressive educational program aimed at informing and reminding FOK tenants about our noise abatement efforts and procedures. Additionally, they report that their “efforts coupled with technological advances in the aviation industry are making a significant reduction in terms of aircraft related noise.”
Possible Action: Deploy an aggressive educational program to inform all pilots about HPN’s noise abatement procedures including the voluntary curfew. This action item is detailed in Part Two of this report.
In the early 1980s, louder aircraft operating at Reagan National prompted the FAA - the original airport operator - to impose nighttime noise restrictions between 10 p.m. and 6:59 a.m. which became known as the DCA Nighttime Noise Rule. However, this was never an operational curfew. Rather it is imposing a civil penalty on airlines/owners for operating louder (non-compliant) aircraft that exceed the nighttime noise limits. The Airports Authority still audits, investigates, and enforces the Nighttime Noise Rule to ensure aircraft are complying. Non-compliant aircraft may be fined up to $5,000 per violation by the Airports Authority.
Possible Action: None, this a unique, quasi-mandatory curfew and not applicable to HPN.
Boca Raton Airport, Boca, FL
The Boca Raton Airport (APF) has a voluntary curfew enforcement program. Violating flights are precleared with the airport via a phone call, where pilots get educated on why they should be avoided. Failure to do so results in the owner & operator being prominently & publicly listed on the website (for shaming) Boca Raton Airport has a longer curfew time frame of 22:00 to 7:00.
Possible Action: Implement a policy that APF that asks curfew violators to call the Tower and receive education. Also expand HPN’s curfew hours - midnight to 6:30 is very short This would cost the county nothing but would be a good demonstration of good will. Expand curfew hours - midnight to 6:30 is very short.
Naples Municipal Airport, Naples FL
Naples Municipal Airport (APF) has a voluntary nighttime curfew from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am, which is a feature of their Fly Safe Fly Quiet program.
Pilot/Aircraft Owner Education Program is built upon a collaborative effort with pilots and aviation businesses that use the airport. The robust schedule of meetings between airport staff and Noise Compatibility Committee members occur twice a month.
Letters are mailed monthly to all operators flying during the voluntary curfew, reiterating the importance of flying as quietly as possible and observing the curfew. Operators who violate the curfew are also posted on their website A list of aircraft operations occurring at the Naples Airport during the Voluntary Nighttime Curfew for the past 90-day period are also posted and available on their website.
Naples Airport has hired an independent consultant to verify it’s claim that they haves one of the highest voluntary curfew compliance rates in the country compared to other general aviation airport reviews.
Possible Action: Naples efforts and compliance make them a leader in community-based noise abatement. HMMH Westchester County Airport’s current consultant works with Naples on matters including the airport curfew. We suggest the County use them as a valuable resource.
Also, although our research about Naples and other airports charging higher landing fees to aircaft that violate the voluntary curfew was inconclusive we recoomend this as an area that should be explored. We made a few calls to airports, including Naples, and found staff was willing to discuss noise iniatives. Perhaps communication between noise officers could yield useful information transfer.
Finally, Naples Airport has hired an independent consultant to verify it’s claim that they haves one of the highest voluntary curfew compliance rates in the country compared to other general aviation airport reviews. Perhaps the County explore this, beginning with having AvPort’s Incorporate a metric on noise mitigation efforts into their performance evaluations
Part Two outlines existing curfew procedures at the Westchester County Airport including noise abatement and the VRFF (Voluntary Restraint From Flying). Unfortunately, these existing well intended policies are regularly ignored. A curfew represents a compromise solution with reasonable standards. If adhered to by operators it will benefit and yield goodwill from the community. Subsequently this might preserve the long-term feasibility of the airport as a good neighbor to the benefit of both residents and aircraft operators.
While voluntary we have identified some ways the County might promote these policies to encourage participation here:
Possible Action: The Journal News during August 2021 reported federal stimulus funding of $22,597,580 was granted to Westchester airport, along with another grant of 8.1mm in federal stimulus. Some of the funding should be put towards programs and initiatives we have discussed before including the curfew improvements we have expanded upon in this report.