Specifics of airport study revealed

NASHUA – A $211,000 study that has just started will help the Nashua Airport Authority determine exactly what type of improvements are needed at Boire Field to bring the local airport into compliance with federal safety standards, consultants and officials said Wednesday night.

During an informational session at City Hall, Carol Niewola of Gale Associates, the firm conducting the study for the authority, said it is likely the improvements will carry a $10 million price tag, but the federal government would cover 95 percent of the cost.

Niewola and John Gill, chairman of the authority, said the airport has become increasingly popular for jet aircraft in recentyears, requiring changes in the layout and infrastructure of the facility off Pine Hill Road in the northwest section of the city.

They said construction of a second runway is an option that will be studied, but that proposal has already drawn criticism from residents who live near the airport and are concerned about noise.

According to an information card given to about 30 residents who attended the session, the new, parallel runway would offer “many advantages, including efficiently and safely separating student pilots operating small, slow aircraft from the more experienced pilots operating higher performance aircraft.

“Additionally, it is possible that by changing these aircraft patterns that repetitive aircraft noise could be reduced in neighborhoods close to the airport,” officials said.

According to Niewola, improvements are needed because the federal safety standards require a 400-foot separation between the main runway and taxiway, where planes wait to use main runway. The airport has only 250 feet between the two, she said.

She and Royce Rankin, the airport manager, said the larger separation is needed for safety reasons as more and more corporate jets use the airport and Daniel Webster College, located adjacent to the facility, continues to attract more aviation students.

“The reason we’re doing this is not to promote growth,” Niewola said. “It is to address things that have already happened. We’re trying to play catch-up.”

She said there are several alternatives under consideration for Boire Field.

One would reduce the airplane parking lot by 39 spots, creating a 300-foot separation between the runway and taxiway. Another calls for reconstruction of the main runway closer to the railroad tracks at the north edge of the site, eliminating the possibility of any second runway in the future, officials said.

It’s possible the Federal Aviation Administration would grant a waiver allowing for 300 feet of separation, instead of the full 400 feet, they said.

Resident Barbara Pressly of Orchid Avenue wanted to know whether construction of a second runway would open the airport up to commercial passenger or cargo operations.

Authority member Fred Britton said it wouldn’t.

“We have no desire for passenger or cargo service at the airport,” he said.

Other residents were concerned about late night noise at the airport. Rankin and others said the airport’s control tower operates from 7 a.m.-9 p.m., and the noise at night can be attributed in large part to aircraft reducing their altitude as they approach Manchester Airport.

As officials consider the alternatives for improvements at the airport, they will also be updating a 1994 environmental assessment to prepare for possible construction a second runway.

Another public meeting on the analysis will be held after the start of the new year, Niewola said.