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Air Traffic, and Complaints About It, Up Over Holiday Weekend

Wed, 06/08/2022 - 18:39

There were 533 takeoffs and landings at East Hampton Town Airport — and 1,265 complaints about them made to just one of the two systems to register such complaints — between May 26 and May 30, according to a presentation at the town board’s work session on Tuesday. The statistics include 212 takeoffs and landings and 654 complaints on Memorial Day alone.

The holiday weekend was to be the first during which the airport would operate with restrictions on aircraft operations in place, but the May 16 granting of a temporary restraining order, in response to multiple lawsuits brought by opponents of the town board’s plan to enact those restrictions, meant business as usual at the airport.

There were 159 takeoffs and landings, collectively known as operations, on May 26, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, including of 44 helicopters and 39 jets. Just 20 were recorded on May 27, and 23 on May 28. But traffic picked up considerably on May 29, a Sunday, with 119 takeoffs and landings, and increased even more on Memorial Day, with 100 helicopter and 39 jet operations among the 212 total.

Of 266 complaints registered to PlaneNoise on May 26, 94 were about helicopters, 57 about jets, 74 about turboprop planes, and nine about seaplanes. Complainants did not know the type of aircraft in 26 additional reports, and six complaints involved multiple aircraft. May 27 saw 84 complaints registered via PlaneNoise, and 56 were recorded on May 28. The number jumped to 205 on May 29, before the 654 recorded on Memorial Day, 354 of those about helicopters and 123 about jets.

Data from Air Noise Report, another system to register complaints about aircraft, were unavailable, according to the report prepared by Jim Brundige, the airport director.

Operations between May 26 and May 30 exceeded those in the entire month of January, a typically slow month during which takeoffs and landings are primarily of piston engine and turboprop planes. Operations increased from 516 in January to 586 in February, 676 in March, and 1,176 in April. In each month, takeoffs and landings by transient planes outnumbered those of locally based aircraft.

Takeoffs and landings in the first four months of 2022 were significantly fewer than over the same period in 2021, which saw 4,838 takeoffs and landings at the airport. Throughout 2021, there were 32,298 operations, peaking in August, with 6,138. In 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic began, there were 29,820 takeoffs and landings. There were 25,404 in 2020.

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