After working for months to convince the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reinstate “Head to Head” operations at Logan International Airport members of NOAH’s Community Building and Environment Department Youth Crew announced at a community meeting Monday night that the FAA has agreed to reinstate Head to Head operations at the airport.
“We are pleased to announce that on Friday, January 16 after midnight planes will resume Head to Head operations in East Boston,” said Youth Crew member Michael Passariello to a round of applause. “This means jets will no longer be flying over Eagle Hill and disturbing the sleep of residents.”
Passariello reported that Logan will be the only airport in the nation where Head to Head operations are reinstated.
The Youth Crew released a study in the fall that showed an increase in nighttime sleep interruptions over Eagle Hill since Head to Head operations were cancelled by the FAA. The youth group, led by NOAH’s Community Building and Environment Department Director Chris Marchi gained community support for the FAA to reinstate Head to Head Operations at Logan Airport during nighttime operations during several community meetings around Eastie.
Head to Head Operation is when air traffic controllers send a departing flight over the water on take off while arriving flights are landed on the same runway from the opposite direction. This method had been used for years at Logan to cut down operational noise during the nighttime hours because landings tend to be a lot quieter than takeoffs.
Here at Logan Head to Head operations were a noise abetment procedure that Massport and the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) worked on and the FAA agreed to over a decade ago. Head to Head operations became a 13 year noise abatement process, originally first promised in 2002, and was widely successful in curbing nighttime noise.
The announcement Monday is a major victory for the NOAH youth and residents that have been complaining that takeoff noise emanating from Runway 15/33 has become somewhat unbearable at night since the FAA suspended Head to Head operations nationwide in 2012
“I’d like to thank the FAA for doing their due diligence in completing a full review of this procedure. I applaud the FAA and Massport’s continuous efforts in putting both our community safety and comfort as a a top priority, while exceeding expectations put forth by the regulatory guidelines” said Senator Anthony Petruccelli. “I’d also like to thank NOAH’s Youth Crew for their hard work conducting the sleep study and bringing their findings to the community. Their efforts helped bring the plight of residents in Eagle Hill affected by late night airport noise to the community at large.”
In November, Massport went to bat for the community and began pressuring the FAA to reinstate Head to Head operations at Logan.
Massport spokesman Matt Brelis said the goal of Massport’s recommendations were to keep aircraft over Boston Harbor to the extent possible. Massport’s recommendations also sought to alternate the use of runways to avoid persistent use.
“This is great news,” said Marchi. “NOAH’s youth worked hard on this project to represent East Boston family’s interests. I’m just glad they were able to help. So often people will say, ‘Why bother? We can’t do anything about it anyway.’ What we’re trying to do is say, ‘Yes we can.’ I think it’s also important to recognize that we appreciate Massport’s efforts to expedite their work with the FAA and get this thing resolved. I think this is a good example of how citizen activism, youth and agencies can work together toward shared goals.”
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, announced a halt to ‘Head to Head’ Operations nationwide in 2012. This decision was due to what he called ‘an abundance of caution’ after three airplanes came within one mile of one another in a July 2012 incident as Air Traffic Controllers at Reagan National Airport in Washington DC changed configurations. It was only suppose to be for one month to sort out the problem but suspension of Head to Head operations has lasted for over two years.
The study the NOAH Youth Crew did focused on the impacts of late night airplane noise on Eastie and Chelsea residents living in close proximity to runway paths.
The Youth Crew found a new onslaught of night time airplane flights over the community. These flights, the Youth Crew has found, have created a new and serious public health threat–sleep fragmentation.
The Youth Crew went out into the community and talked to 445 people about the late night noise. Their study asked residents in six different areas in relation to the flight path of runway 15/33, which is the one used most often for night time take-offs, whether they had heard late night airplane noise after midnight and whether the sleep of anyone in their household had been interrupted because of it.
The Sleep Interruption Map released showed reported sleep interruption of as much as 48 percent under the flight path in Eagle Hill and Star of the Sea neighborhoods. There is a consistent pattern spreading out in every direction. The study found reported sleep interruption of 36 percent in central Chelsea–also directly under the flight path but further away– and 24 percent, 22 percent and 18 percent respectively in central Eagle Hill, Orient Heights and Maverick study areas adjacent to the flight path.
As you get further away from the flight path, the reported cases of sleep interruption went down. At the furthest points away from the flight path in parts of Jeffries Point and Orient Heights reported sleep interruption was only around 9 percent and 8 percent.
Using population data from the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s My Neighborhood Census Viewer web site, NOAH’s Youth Organizers estimate that night time airplane overflights cause as many as 10,284 cases of sleep interruption in East Boston and another 6,450 estimated cases in Chelsea.
The Youth Crew found the problem is a major issue for over 16,000 people in our region with possible implications for workforce productivity, public health and more.
Members of NOAH’s Community Building and Environment Department Youth Crew, Stephan Marin and Michael Passariello announced at a community meeting Monday night that the FAA has agreed to reinstate Head to Head operations at the airport.