F-35 Noise Comparison

Now that the mall has had a stake driven through its heart and as I have predicted, due to the ongoing incompetence of GY city council and city management to see this coming even though I’ve been explaining it to them for the past two plus years, either Goodyear is now officially bankrupt or must now fire a lot of good employees or raise our taxes out of sight (also predicted) I’ll have to turn my attention to other stuff to write while your city council falls all over themselves to “get defensive” and “think about the city”. *
Well who were they thinking about until now?
So let’s look at the Luke noise issue. I warn you, this is a long article. You’ll have to read maps and learn a little physics but it’s worth it because the Air Force just released their latest study Jan 12, there are 45 days for public comment, and there are public meetings for comment starting next week.
Here we go (just like the little dog in the beer commercial).
Why can’t someone just make a sample recording of what current F-16 jets sound like flying over Goodyear neighborhoods and then increase the volume of that recording by an amount equal to the added noise the F-35 makes vs the F-16 and post it online so you and I could go listen to it? Why wouldn’t your city government, for example, do something that simple? It would probably cost a lot less than the city of Goodyear video starring Georgia Lord that cost us $80,000 or $450 per second for GY to produce and give public info officer Nora Fascinelli something to do.

I don’t know the answer to those questions but if you were hoping I was going to tell you that I just did it and “here it is for you to listen to”, I’m sorry to disappoint you but my wife allows me a zero $ budget for this blog (maybe Georgia could use some of her leftover $18,000 in campaign funds from developers and statewide fire departments to make the comparison audios. Georgia’s Money).

So instead of doing that, I’ve done some (free) research into the whole Luke noise level issue and present my results below. As always with howardsgoodyearblog, I give you links and references to the raw data so you don’t have to believe me, you can look at all the data yourself if you want.

Don’t want to read my entire article even though I have done a lot of work for you condensing a plethora of information into a few understandable and readable nuggets which accurately summarize the entire situation? OK, so as not to keep you in suspense, it’s not as bad as Georgia’s prison debacle.

First, Details and References

Here is an online copy of the the Air Force Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for Luke and several other candidate sites for the F-35s that was released Jan 12, 2012. You can go there if you want, but I’ll warn you in advance, it’s BIG.

Here are the parts of the study that apply to Luke. These are pretty big also;

Part One. Part One Luke EIS 100 pages

Part Two. Part Two Luke EIS 118 pages

An ASU professor did a study for the city of El Mirage and concluded that El Mirage residents would have serious issues with the F-35. You have to do a records request with the city of EM to get the actual study. I’ll do that if I get around to it and post it here if/when it arrives.

Then there are some people who call themselves “Luke Forward” who think the ASU professor’s study is flawed, (Study Flawed) but they don’t give any solid evidence to support their claims. Here is their web site where this 501C(3) political organization lists their board of directors who are mostly politically connected Arizona real estate developers (who probably don’t have options on any land in El Mirage) and others who regularly feed at the public trough and a few active Luke related family members and retired military. They all appear to have some vested interest in keeping Luke AFB in operation and expanding so I find it difficult to believe a word they say.

Here are some facts from all of this stuff and my opinion at the end.

There are currently 168 F-16s at Luke (PAA= Primary Aircraft Authorized) with 85,000 annual airfield operations (AAO = take offs, landings, touch and gos, go arounds, and low approaches). What is being evaluated are six different scenarios with from 24 to 144 F-35s with 26 F-16s remaining for a total of up to 170 aircraft with AAO maximum of about 93,000 or about 20 more per day (10%) worst case. If the F-35 is not stationed at Luke, the F-16s are expected to stay but a few will be retired. Many of the F-16s that are at Luke today (and would probably be a larger % in the future) are foreign military sales jets (FMS) which would appear to be aircraft that are slated to be sold to US foreign allies. These will continue or perhaps even increase since we only sell last year’s model to the rest of the world (so far, Barack).

Luke personnel would either stay the same with 6,842 or it could drop by 200 under one F-35 scenario or increase by up to a maximum of an additional 2,300 under other F-35 scenarios.

Next, for you non-audio engineers, here is some background information on noise and decibel levels so you have a better feel for what the Luke studies mean.

Decibel Comparison website.

Decibel Comparison Chart

Luke Study Summary.

According to the Air Force EIS study, the number of residents (I assume using current residential density) who will hear 65 dB or greater noise will increase by between 600 to possibly 4,000 residents. The number of incidents of total noise levels from jets should not change significantly since even in the worst case the number of AAOs (annual airfield operations) are not expected to increase by much.

According to the decibel comparison website;

a vacuum cleaner operates at about 80 dB

60 dB is normal conversation

a 5dB change is clearly noticeable

a 10 dB change sounds twice as loud

Here is Figure 3.2-7 from the Luke study Fig 3.2-70001 along with an outline of the city of Goodyear, Pebble Creek, and PC Parkway. (Fig 3.2-7 is also on page 28 of Part One Luke EIS with link above where you can also magnify it if you want to see more photo details). If you believe the US Air Force, this is what you need to know to determine if you are going to notice any sound level changes. Fig 3.2-7 is the worst case scenario for noise levels for the surrounding community. It includes the maximum number of F-35s that are anticipated to be stationed at Luke if Luke is selected.

When you look at Fig 3.2-7 you will notice that the outside LIGHT BLUE line shows the current 65 dB baseline at Luke. Near it is a YELLOW line which shows the expected F-35 worst case 65 dB level limits. If you live anywhere on this map between the outside of the light blue line and the inside of the yellow line, you are going to notice a big difference. In fact, you will notice a LIGHT ORANGE line which represents 70 dB and a DARK ORANGE line which represents 75 dB. If you currently live within the light blue line and inside or near either of the orange lines you could apparently see noise levels which will seem to you to be nearly TWICE AS LOUD as what you hear today.

Most of the twice as loud or near twice as loud places are at the ends of the runway, however, and there do not appear to be very many residences or other structures in these areas. But it would appear to me that the ASU professor could be right about El Mirage and Luke Forward is acting like the special interest political organization that they really are.

Pebble Creek? (I’ve put a dotted line around PC on the map and also highlighted PC Parkway on the map as well as the city of GY boundary in this area).

PC looks to be mostly unaffected by any of this. Will we hear an occasional noise that will be much higher than what we hear today and perhaps scare the bejesus out of us? My guess is probably yes. If you live near Indian School road in PC more than likely, I would say.

For most of those who will be affected, it appears to me that you will go from a sound which is similar to loud conversation to a sound which is like your spouse yelling at you for not listening to him/her. If you live near Indian School Rd in Pebble Creek and your spouse does not yell at you very often, these new noise levels may bother you and you might want to consider moving.

My wife only yells at me what I would consider a reasonable amount and usually only when I deserve it and I don’t live near Indian School Rd so at this point, I’m not expecting to move out of GY or PC anytime soon (sorry, Georgia).

At least not for this reason.

There now, that wasn’t so bad was it? Why couldn’t GY have done that for you?

* New GY mayor Joanne Osborne said that


3 Responses

  1. I really don’t know where you find the time, energy, or patience; but I’m thankful you do. Diane DeCarlo

  2. Better yet, why doesn’t the Air Force fly in some of the F-35s currently based in Florida and give us the real thing to judge by?

  3. Could be worse, they could move slower and louder aircraft here such as the B1-B…

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