NAS OCEANA- IS HARMONIOUS CO-EXISTENCE POSSIBLE?
CITIZENS CONCERNED ABOUT JET NOISE (CCAJN) BELIEVES IT CAN BE, ... BUT NOT WITHOUT MEANINGFUL SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS OF JET NOISE AND AVOIDABLE ACCIDENT RISK!
In 1998-99, 156 F/A-18 Hornets were relocated to NAS Oceana where they joined nearly 150 F-14 Tomcats. Noise levels and accident risk dramatically increased - and the quality of life of 200,000 thousand residents were significantly degraded. The Navy now plans to replace nearly~ 150 Oceana-based Tomcats with a new version of the F/A-18 known as the Super Hornet, an aircraft that is up to four times louder than the Tomcat.
QUESTION. Does CCAJN advocate closing Oceana?
ANSWER. Citizens Concerned About Jet Noise (CCAJN) has not advocated, nor does it now advocate, closing Oceana. The only REAL THREAT to the long-term viability of Oceana would be a failure on the part of the Navy - and public officials - to identify and implement meaningful solutions to problems of jet noise and accident risk, problems NOW readily acknowledged as being significant. Such a failure will imperil our quality of life, perpetuate community discontent, jeopardize the reputation of the navy as being a responsible neighbor, and precipitate future demands that Oceana be a base closure candidate.
QUESTION. Is loud noise harmful?
ANSWER. Yes, loud noise can harm you and members of your family. Numerous studies conclude that chronic exposure to loud noise is detrimental to personal health, individual achievement, and general quality of life, often without any awareness of its effects. These studies link high levels of constant or routinely recurring aircraft noise to stress-related disorders, sleep disturbance, increased cardiovascular activity, hypertension, gastro-intestinal disorders, irritability, work and learning impairment (particularly in young children, the hearing impaired, and those who have special education needs) among other mental and physical problems, including "learned helplessness" (the "you can't fight the Navy" syndrome).
QUESTION. Navy officials say that everything is being done that can be done to mitigate noise and reduce accident risk. What more can be done?
ANSWER. For nearly three years CCAJN has advocated several measures that, if implemented, will significantly improve the quality of life of residents and make this area more attractive for business and tourism specifically·
Move air show practices to rural areas.
Construct a second Hush House.
QUESTION. Why is a second outlying field so important?
ANSWER. The "OUTLYING FIELD SOLUTION' is absolutely essential in order for the Navy to co-exist harmoniously with communities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake in the future.
NALF Fentress Oceana's outlying field, was constructed to permit the majority of the operational activity associated with Oceana to be separated from the development that inevitably occurs around a Naval Air Station. Unfortunately Fentress is insufficiently remote to preclude it from being enveloped by an expanding metropolitan area. An outlying field is essentially a landing strip; a few buildings, perhaps with fueling capability; and navigation beacons, all surrounded by a fence - virtually nothing to attract economic growth. Fentress routinely operates around the clock and, when operational demands exceed capacity, excess operations are diverted back to Oceana. A remote outlying field offers the following benefits:
QUESTION. Isn't a Hush House being constructed at Oceana?
ANSWER. Yes, a Hush House is under construction. This project languished on Oceana's "wish list" for almost 20 years before being funded in 1999. The facility will accommodate the annual maintenance demand of 140 aircrafts, less than the numb at Ocean before the arrival of 156 F/A-18's from Cecil Field. A second such facility is required to ensure that all high power engine maintenance testing is done inside an acoustic enclosure.
ANSWER. Several things can be done to abate excessive noise without materially affectlng readiness and safety.
After take-off, aircraft should reduce power and remain at slowest safe speed until well over rural or ocean areas before climb power is applied.
Eliminate the "overhead break" used by returning aircraft to simulate carrier-landing procedures; simply execute straight-in landing.
Prohibit all aerobatics or high-power maneuvers over the city.
Eliminate all "touch and go" and Field Carrier Landing Practice operations at Oceana, and substantially reduce them at Fentress, by moving them to outlying fields.
QUESTION. Why is it important to relocate airshow practice?
ANSWER. Airshows and air show practices are inherently more dangerous. They involve high speed, Iow altitude, aerobatics maneuvers that significantly reduce recovery time in an emergency, e.g. impact with a bird. Oceana aircraft practice for air shows performed at Oceana and for 20-25 air shows that are performed annually at other bases on the East Coast. These high risk practices also produce extremely loud noise events that are aggravated by sudden onset. Conducting air show practice over the largest city in Virginia is both inappropriate and imprudent, and requires a safety waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
QUESTION. Are federal funds available for noise mitigation?
ANSWER. The Navy could have requested noise mitigation funding from Congress. Unfortunately, Navy officials declined to exercise this prerogative because recognition of necessary mitigations costs might have resulted in Oceana being less attractive than other scenarios considered in the Cecil Field Environmental Impact Statement (ELS). Navy officials further reasoned that since Congress had not provided any funding, albeit unsolicited, for noise mitigation, it was not obligated to consider mitigation costs. Mitigation costs have thus been left as a burden upon impacted residents and businesses
Recently, a Council resolution that sought noise mitigation funding from the FAA was withdrawn (before being voted upon) when it was pointed out that the FAA was not responsible. CCAJN requested that the resolution be changed to seek noise mitigation funding directly from the Navy. This modified resolution has yet to be re-introduced. Apparently, asking the Navy for mitigation funds apparently is a less attractive politic position than asking impacted constituents to continue suffer under the noise umbrella.
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