When the COVID pandemic brought travel plans to an abrupt, screeching halt a few years ago around most of the country, the Naples Airport experienced something no one saw coming: private air travel ascended to new levels as determined travelers sought an escape to warmer climates. The airport experienced an extraordinary season, with record-setting jet traffic.
We’ve seen a decrease in jet activity at Naples Airport since then, but it remains higher than 2019 levels. Most activity here is condensed to the five-month span of our “season,” which is the same time residents want to be outside enjoying our beautiful community.
Spending time outdoors during that time leads to greater exposure to the negative impact of aircraft noise, something the Naples Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), are addressing.
We work hard to engage our community and innovate with solutions to these issues. This summer, we concluded a Part 150 noise study – for more than three years we engaged our public with a cooperative approach to consider a variety of strategies to reduce airport noise.
The Part 150 study, authorized by the FAA, is a voluntary program also known as Airport Noise Compatibility Planning. Residents, pilots, airport operators, and the FAA collaboratively explore solutions to mitigate noise. The study was submitted in July, but the airport isn’t likely to hear back from the FAA for a number of months.
We aren’t waiting on the FAA’s approvals from the study but are pushing the envelope by working with an independent flight procedures design firm to develop a series of solutions and potentially shave years off the timeframe needed to implement them.
The cornerstone solution would enable jets departing the Naples Airport to climb higher faster than the current 2,000-foot level-off allows. If approved, an initial climb-out between 3,000-5,000 feet will help reduce the airport’s noise signature and provide more efficient navigation of the regional airspace.
While the potential change in flight procedures is a while off, we’re encouraged by the willingness of many of the airport’s users to limit their operations during especially noise-sensitive times.
Naples Airport introduced a voluntary nighttime curfew called “Quiet Hours” from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., and many operators have been proactive by asking their customers to do their part to maintain the Naples quality of life. In fact, thanks to their efforts, we’ve seen a 98.7 percent compliance rate, which is one of the highest in the nation for airports with voluntary curfews.
Worth noting is the exemplary, voluntary efforts of some of the larger operators in observing Quiet Hours during the past fiscal year. NetJets reduced curfew violations by 91 percent, Elite Jets had a reduction of 60 percent, and FlexJet reduced their violations by 41 percent. Most noteworthy is the operator with no curfew violations for the past two years: Hertz.
Many who use the airport – some 80 percent are local homeowners – help the airport generate a $780-million annual impact in Collier County. Many of these frequent flyers are also among the most philanthropic-minded residents who have supported events including the Naples Winter Wine Festival and institutions such as the Naples Community Hospital’s Heart and Stroke Institute.
FEATURED PHOTO: Chris Rozansky, Executive Director, Naples Airport Authority
To learn more about the Naples Airport’s Part 150 noise study, go to flynaples.com. For a tour of the airport, or to arrange for a speaker at your group’s next meeting, call (239) 643-0733.