Date: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 @ 06:10:25 EST
Topic: Investigative reports

Why there is no compliance

First a few facts… at times during the week, Lantana Airport may have a much as two and a half times more flight operations than PBI in an area one quarter the size.

During the fifteen year presence of helicopters at Lantana Airport, at no time did the County ever approve helicopter flight training over ANY populated areas around the airport.

In the mid 90’s when helicopter schools applied for tenancy on the airport, the County Commission recognizing the clear threat to the neighboring communities, formalized its intent to protect the public by authorizing and publishing NOISE ABATEMENT PROCEDURES issued through its DOA (Department of Airports).

It is clear the County Commission had anticipated ‘a good faith effort’ and compliance from helicopter training school tenants. But during the past decade and more specifically the past FIVE YEARS, the DOA (Department of Airports) failed to gain any compliance to these relief measures.


By December 2004, after years of non compliance with these PROCEDURES by training schools; the County intentionally added airport boundary definitions to the PROCEDURES to beef up its efforts to gain compliance and once again confined training operations to that area above the boundaries of the airport.

The DOA (Department of Airports) distributed these PROCEDURES among training schools and pilots but failed to distribute, promote or even post them on their own NOISE ABATEMENT website so the public could learn that the helicopters were not supposed to be training over their homes.

So poor was the DOA’s leadership in dispensing this relief information to the public that in January 2010, LWM and the Mayor of Atlantis discovered that there couldn’t be found anywhere on the airport …any indication that Lantana was even a NOISE SENSITIVE AIRPORT. There were no diagrams posted anywhere showing the correct noise abatement flight patterns, no information on what a preferred runway is.

And all throughout this time, the County’s formal “pleas” and requests to helicopter training schools to become ‘good neighbors,’ were met with continued defiance and operations in blatant violation of the County’s express will to protect the public. Hence the public continued to suffer harm as the tenant and other helicopter training schools, operators, instructors, students and pilots assumed control over Lantana Airport.

Denying the public access to information critical to their comfort is a serious offense against the people, especially considering the past FIVE YEARS of pain and suffering inflicted on the various communities surrounding the airport because the DOA never informed the public that the helicopters weren’t supposed to be training over their homes.

The public, deprived of this information critical to their wellbeing ...quickly fell into despair and losing all hope of relief… they stopped filing complaints as they came to believe that the County expected them to endure the training operations over their homes and neighborhoods. So pervasive was the mood of despair that one uninformed Civic Association President wrote “unfortunately the helicopters are here to stay,” implying that residents should just give up and take the abuse.

So the communities surrounding the airport continued to suffer harm while the County Commission actually thought the surrounding communities were at peace with the airport because the DOA was reporting only a few isolated complaints here and there. Even CCAN (Citizen’s Committee on Airport Noise) Chairman Paul Agnew fell under this misconception showing how little in touch government is with the reality on the front line.

With the DOA withholding knowledge of these PROCEDURES from the public, helicopter training schools got the obvious message that the County wasn’t serious about compliance. After all, if the public didn’t know where the helicopters were really supposed to be flying, there would be few if any complaints regardless of where helicopters flew and regardless of what they did. So the helicopter operators got a green light for ‘anything goes.’

And as a caveat, fewer complaints meant less work for the DOA who could then focus on other activities instead of gaining compliance with the anticipated relief the County Commission had intended for the people.

Ironic that government authorizes the most critical entitlements protecting the public and an organ of government nullifies that action by keeping that critical relief information hidden from the public …essentially advocating for the very commercial interests the County Commission is trying to protect the people from.

And the DOA never promoted general knowledge of this critical information to civic groups and neighborhood associations …but did encourage the very tenants violating the County’s PROCEDURES to interact with civic groups so as to tell them what a wonderful effort they’re making to please the public! And of course, an uninformed public was more prone to believe a ‘big lie.’

The real reason helicopter training schools have refused to comply - $$$$$

As you might expect, driving this whole aberration is economics and influence. The economic engine driving helicopter schools is the leased-back helicopter the cheapest being an investment of about a quarter million dollars. Investors get return only when their investments are in the air… not on the ground.

So training schools are pressured to put as many helicopters in the air as possible and therefore they had to find a way NOT TO COMPLY with the dreaded NOISE ABATEMENT PROCEDURES because it would reduce profits since traffic patterns confined over the airport would only allow one to two helicopters at a time. However, if training patterns could be expanded over the communities (as it is now) it would allow for unlimited numbers of helicopters training simultaneously which would drive up the profit margin to more comfortable levels for investors.

This article comes from Lake Worth Media

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