Thursday, June 20, 2013

AF releases new F-35 study

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The final draft of a report analyzing the impact of the F-35 program on the surrounding community has been released. The report, first released in September 2010, is available for review and comment through July 29. Eglin is the training center for F-35 flight and maintenance students across all branches of the military and several partner nations. Flight operations began in 2012, but restrictions were in place until more information could be gathered. One was limiting flights that send air traffic over Valparaiso, where residents and businesses were concerned about noise. The environmental impact statement provides several alternatives, but lifting restrictions on the runway is the preferred alternative. But because there are fewer F-35s and more is known about operations of the plane, the noise impact estimates across the board dropped by 2 to 3 decibels from the 2010 assessment. Also, training simulating an engine burnout and emergency landings will be done at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, Fla.. Of 90,000 estimated annual flight operations at the program's peak, 44,000 would take place at Eglin and 6 percent of those would occur on the runway that sends aircraft over Valparaiso. Also, night flights have been reduced from 5 percent to 3 percent. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 06/19/13)