Hanscom hangar

Massport says Hanscom development addresses need but residents resist

By Anne O’Connor anne@theconcordbridge.org and Betsy Levinson betsy@theconcordbridge.org
June 9, 2023

Massport regards the proposed North Airfield Development, adding 27 hangars to Hanscom, as a response to existing demand, according to an email sent to The Concord Bridge in response to questions.

Currently, with 30 aircraft on a waiting list for hangar space and “dozens more on a space available status,” not all planes are guaranteed overnight hangar space and must arrive or depart empty to a hangar off-site.

The new hangars, Massport wrote, “will largely house existing users and, in some cases, reduce ferry flights, it is not assumed that there will be a resulting increase in carbon emissions.”

But the proposed expansion has drawn the ire of environmental advocates and nearby residents, with  a newly formed Coalition of local and statewide organizations joining stop Massport’s and Runway Realty Ventures, LLC’s private jet expansion plans. 

At Monday’s Select Board meeting, the Select Board tasked member Terri Ackerman with drafting a letter to the governor about Hanscom and its environmental impacts.

They also discussed possibly hiring a lawyer to best represent Concord’s interests while working in collaboration with other towns.

“It is a universal environment we live in,” Chair Henry Dane said.

Massport says development will ensure that Hanscom has the infrastructure to support new technologies such as the use of sustainable aviation fuels and electric craft.

The response points out that the proposal calls for “numerous sustainability features” and includes measures to protect the site and adjacent parcels from potential flooding. The development will occur on land that is already part of the airport or former Navy property used for aviation.

“One of Hanscom’s primary missions is to support Massachusetts based businesses by providing the infrastructure they need to compete in the global economy. And we must balance all of that while being a good neighbor to our surrounding communities.”

At the May 22 Select Board meeting, members of the public expressed a range of commentary on the proposed increase in private airplanes at Hanscom Field proposed by Massport.

Back in May, Mark Giddings, Concord’s representative to the Hansom Field Advisory Committee, told the Select Board the town’s response to the plan for expansion should focus on the environment, noting that an environmental review of the project will be published in the fall.

Lincoln’s Christopher Elliott, chair of that town’s Hanscom Advisory Committee, said protesting Massport might not be appropriate, preferring to develop relationships with appropriate political officials. He noted that decisions will be made at the state level.

Mark Gailus commented that the project goes against the state’s climate goals.

Other comments focused on citizens organizing against the project, developing a website for all resources, and urging citizens to write a letter to Gov. Maura Healy opposing the proposal.

A detailed Draft Environmental Impact Report is due out in the fall which will study carbon emissions and provide data along with any potential mitigation efforts. “Massport strongly encourages all parties to review the document and provide comments based on the analysis and data provided during the environmental review process,” the email included.

Hanscom is a federally designated reliever airport for Boston Logan “which is an important strategy to reduce congestion and use existing airports more equally,” the reply said.

Noise abatement procedures including the Fly Quiet program are in use at the airfield. Massport monitors noise levels at six locations in and around the airport. Since 2005, three sites showed less noise and three sites showed more.

According to the noise report, a large part of the night operations, 611 out of 2,191 in 2021, were for air ambulances, exempt from night-use surcharges. 

Overall, military traffic accounted for .94% of operations and 31% of the total noise energy. These flights are not under the governance of Massport.