Who is Circling Our Homes?

Full Public Disclosure Requested

September 14, 2017

Oregon Aviation Watch submitted the following to the Hillsboro Airport(HIO) Master Planning Advisory Committee on 9/12/17. This committee is currently considering future growth and expansion options at HIO. Though the businesses and individuals located at this airport have benefited from lavish government subsidies from multiple government sources including the FAA, ConnectOregon, Gain Share, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Portland Community College and the Port of Portland, the public is routinely kept in the dark about what is occurring at this facility. Nonetheless they have historically withheld crucial information about their past activities, current operations and future plans.

This request was submitted in an effort to gather comprehensive data so that informed decisions can be made. It is the firm conviction of Oregon Aviation Watch that those who benefit from government money should be forthcoming and transparent in their responses.

Hillsboro Aero Academy (HAA), one of the largest airplane and helicopter flight training schools on the West coast, is located at the Port of Portland (Port) owned and operated Hillsboro Airport. HAA also offers pilot instruction at the Troutdale and Prineville Airports. The school was a division of Hillsboro Aviation until 2014 when the President and CEO, Max Lyons, sold it to out of state investors - Renovus Capital based in Pennsylvania and Graycliff Partners, "an independent investment firm with offices in New York and Brazil." Lyons, however, stayed on as a minority owner and manager.[1]

According to their website, over the 37 years that Hillsboro Aero Academy (HAA) / Hillsboro Aviation (HA) has been in business, it has trained pilots from over 75 countries.[2] The school is reputed to provide training annually to approximately 700 students from around the world.[3] Per Max Lyons, the owner of Hillsboro Aviation and part owner and manager of Hillsboro Aero Academy, "Hillsboro Aviation has trained thousands of airplane and helicopter pilots from Asia." He further stated that, "As general aviation continues to grow and expand in China, we want to have a role in its growth and support this industry with the experience and resources we have developed over our 30 year history with Asia."[4]

Given the likelihood that many Chinese pilots will serve in the Chinese military or law enforcement upon their return to their homeland, the provision of this pilot instruction essentially supports China's authoritarian approach to governance; its ongoing and brutal genocide against Tibet, its repression of democracy and its history of jailing dissidents including Nobel Laureate, Liu Xiaobo. China's close alliance with North Korea is also worth noting.

A 2013 posting from the Hillsboro Aviation website included a number of foreign organizations and airlines that have made them "a leader in the industry." Most are associated with China, but Japan, Taiwan and Norway also made the list.[5]

  • The Airline Pilot Association of Taiwan chose Hillsboro Aviation as its premier location to train.
  • The Japan Aviation Academy chose Hillsboro Aviation as their exclusive pilot training school.
  • Shanghai Airlines chose Hillsboro Aviation to train its pilots.
  • China Eastern Airlines chose Hillsboro Aviation to train its pilots.
  • Air China chose Hillsboro Aviation to train its pilots.
  • PTES (Cessna's single-engine piston airplane and Robinson helicopter dealer in China) chose Hillsboro Aviation as its U.S. aviation partner.
  • Luftfartsskolen School of Aviation in Norway chose Hillsboro Aviation to train its pilots.
  • The CAAC (Chinese government) approved Hillsboro Aviation to conduct both airplane and helicopter training.

Portland Community College - Major Source of Aviation Noise and Pollution

Portland Community College (PCC) has strong ties to the aviation industry and the provision of flight training on behalf of Chinese pilots. Indeed, this taxpayer funded educational institution encouraged Hillsboro Aero Academy to expand its pilot training program at the Troutdale Airport.[6] Students enrolled in PCC's Aviation Science program contract with Hillsboro Aero Academy for the in-flight portion of their certification. As a direct consequence, PCC student pilots have played a major role in degrading livability by generating frequent daytime and nighttime noise disruptions, polluting the air, and causing safety and security risks over area homes and neighborhoods.

Aviation Profiteers Exploit Community and Compromise Security

The Port of Portland (Port), PCC, and FAA are government agencies that receive public money. Although Hillsboro Aero Academy and other private flight training businesses benefit from millions of FAA Port and ConnectOregon dollars invested in maintaining and staffing air traffic control towers and infrastructure expansions, a shroud of secrecy veils the activities that occur at these airports. In fact, the current system is so skewed towards promoting industry profits that it allows student pilots to walk onto the tarmac and board a plane at the Port's general aviation airports without any security check whatsoever. In addition, the luggage and other belongings carried on to general aviation domestic aircraft are not subjected to security screenings.

By contrast, passengers flying out of commercial airports are required to undergo TSA security checks that can involve x-ray machines, pat downs and other invasive procedures. Luggage and personal belongings are also scrutinized.

Clearly general aviation airports can pose significant security threats. A salient example occurred at HIO this past summer. According to media reports, on 7/3/17 a man wearing a gray hoodie jumped the fence at HIO and allegedly tried to steal a helicopter. In the absence of security at this facility, armed Hillsboro Aero Academy employees held the man at gunpoint, however when the Hillsboro Police arrived, the presumed hijacker managed to flee and was subsequently shot and killed by the police.[7]

As a result of his death it is difficult to gather information regarding his intent and motive. Newspaper accounts identified the intruder as Holden Gorka who worked as a truck driver.[8] Very little information has been released since this incident. It is unclear why Gorka opted to climb the perimeter fence since it is relatively easy to walk directly onto the HIO airfield with no security clearance whatsoever. Regardless of the sketchy specifics regarding this case, it underscores the risks posed as a result of the minimal security at U.S. general aviation airports.

Many Washington County residents impacted by the oft-times relentless noise generated by aviation activity at the Hillsboro Airport can personally attest to being plagued by repetitively circling aircraft both close in to HIO as well as farther out, over rural and woodland properties more than 12 to 20 miles from the airport. Residents in dense residential neighborhoods within a two mile radius of the airport are frequently at risk of FAA Safety Standard violators. In addition, many of these pilots fly to other nearby airports throughout Oregon and Washington including, but not limited to, Scappoose Airpark, Stark's Twin Oaks, Skyport, McMinnville, Newburg, Aurora, Pearson, and other airports in the region. Despite numerous complaints as well as information requests aimed at better understanding the situation, the Port, PCC and the Hillsboro Aero Academy / Hillsboro Aviation have steadfastly refused to release detailed explanations about who is training at these facilities.

In addition, given the lack of consideration and protections for people on the ground, general aviation pilots have the potential to keep U.S. residents under surveillance at all times - a serious concern in light of escalating global tensions throughout the world. At the very least, the minimal security at HIO gives a potential terrorist easy access to aircraft that could be used to damage corporate facilities such as Intel which store significant quantities of toxic pollutants on-site. Schools, power grids, water resources, homes and neighborhoods are also at risk.

China Strongly Allied with the Port of Portland, PCC, Russia and North Korea

Why is Oregon more committed to training pilots on behalf of China's authoritarian regime than it is to protecting its own taxpaying constituents from the environmental, livability and security threats posed by China? The evidence suggests that an insidious all-consuming greed guides aviation policy in this state to an inordinate degree.

China is the largest ally and trade partner of North Korea, a country that is threatening to point nuclear missiles at Guam, Hawaii, and the West Coast of the U.S. There are also indications that these missiles may eventually have the capability of reaching as far inland as Chicago. The devastation and loss of life that could occur both in Asia and the U.S. in the event of a conflagration of this magnitude is unimaginable.

The heightened tensions between North Korea and the United States sheds additional light on the strong alliance that exists between China and the Kim Jong Un regime. According to U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, China is reluctant to pressure North Korea to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Merkley explained that Chinese officials "fear a reunified Korean state could be friend to American interests and foe to Chinese." In addition China is concerned that a collapse of North Korea could trigger "a flood of Korean refugees into China."[9]

China is also building military facilities including missile shelters in the South China Seas, an action that has raised U.S. concerns that China may intend to restrict free movement and trade in this region.[10]

Full Public Disclosure Requested

In the interest of full disclosure and the promotion of public trust, the following information should be made readily available. This is an opportunity for Governor Brown to demonstrate her support for government transparency, especially since she is responsible for appointing the members of the Port of Portland Board of Commissioners and the Oregon State Aviation Board.

Questions regarding HIO Tenants and Businesses

  • The Port has stated that there are at least 25 businesses located at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO). Please identify these businesses.
  • How many based aircraft does each business have at HIO? How many operations and flight hours does each business log on an annual and monthly basis?
  • How many additional operations does each business expect to log over the next 5-10-20 years?
  • Of these 25 businesses, which ones provide flight training at HIO?
  • How many and how frequently are student pilots training in larger aircraft, such as corporate or commercial jets?
  • How many and how frequently are student pilots training in helicopters and fixed wing aircraft?
  • Please identify how many of the operations at HIO are training operations. If this information is currently unavailable, OAW recommends the establishment of landing fees on all operations to track the exact numbers.

Questions Specific to Hillsboro Aero Academy (HAA)

  • Hillsboro Aero Academy / Hillsboro Aviation (HA) has stated that it has trained student pilots from over 75 countries. Please provide a detailed list of these countries and information about how many students from each country train at HIO on a monthly and annual basis. How many hours does each pilot log? Please provide this information for each of the 37 years Hillsboro Aero Academy / Hillsboro Aviation has been in business.
  • Exactly how many pilots has HAA / HA trained from China? How many Chinese pilots are currently training at HAA / HA?
  • Have HAA / HA employees met with government leaders from China? If so in what capacity? Were they authorized to do so by the Governor, Port of Portland, U.S. government or any other local, state or federal official or agency? Are public records available regarding any meetings that transpired? If so how can they be accessed by members of the public?
  • Has HAA / HA trained pilots from North Korea, Russia, or Syria? If so when and how many? Please provide this information on a monthly and annual basis.
  • Is HAA / HA currently training pilots from any of these countries?
  • Have HAA /HA employees met with government leaders from North Korea, Russia, and / or Syria? If so in what capacity? Were they authorized to do so by the Governor, Port of Portland, U.S. government or any other local, state or federal official? Are public records available regarding any meetings that transpired? If so how can they be accessed by Oregon Aviation Watch and other members of the public?
  • In light of the knowledge that a number of the pilots involved in the 9/11 tragedy were from Saudi Arabia, please provide detailed information about the number of pilots HAA / HA has trained from this country on a monthly and annual basis since 1980?
  • Does HAA / HA currently or has it ever provided training on behalf of the military for any foreign country? If so provide the names of the specific countries served including a breakdown of the number of pilots trained, the number of operations and the hours logged.
  • Does HAA / HA currently or has it ever provided training on behalf of law enforcement or the police force for any foreign country? If so provide the names of the specific countries served including a breakdown of the number of pilots trained, the number of operations and the hours logged.
  • Does HAA / HA currently or has it ever provided training on behalf of law enforcement or the police force for any jurisdiction in Oregon? If so please state how many pilots were served and how many operations and flight hours were logged in the provision of this activity.
  • Does HAA / HA currently or has it ever provided training on behalf of law enforcement or the police force for any other U.S. state outside of Oregon? If so please identify which states and / or local jurisdictions were served, a breakdown on the number of pilots trained and how many operations and flight hours were logged in the provision of this activity.
  • Does HAA / HA contract with other companies or private instructors for flight training? If so, please name these businesses and / or individuals.

Questions Specific to PCC

  • How many PCC students are training at the Hillsboro Airport? How many are from within the U.S? How many are from outside the country? How many are from Oregon? How many are from out of state? How many are from within the local community? Please provide annual and monthly data starting from the year when PCC first began offering flight training.
  • If from outside the U.S., please specify which countries they originate from.
  • Do any foreign state owned, privately run airlines or businesses subsidize the education of these students? If so please provide the names of these airlines or businesses.
  • How many PCC students are helicopter students? How many are fixed wing? Please provide annual and monthly data starting from the year when PCC first began offering flight training.
  • Are any PCC student pilots training in larger aircraft such as corporate or commercial jets or commuter and air taxi aircraft? If so are they training out of HIO? Please provide annual and monthly data starting from the year when PCC first began offering flight training.
  • How much flight time is each pilot required to accrue for certification purposes?
  • How many hours of nighttime training is each student required to accrue for certification?
  • How many inclement weather hours is each student required to accrue for certification?
  • Do all PCC student pilots contract with Hillsboro Aero Academy for flight training?
  • Please identify any businesses or individuals besides Hillsboro Aero Academy involved in providing flight training at HIO or other nearby airports.

Questions Specific to Horizon Air

A December 2016 Hillsboro Tribune article reported on a collaborative effort between Hillsboro Aero Academy and Horizon Air to offer commercial flight training out of the Hillsboro Airport.[11] Members of the public who will bear the brunt of the noise, pollution, safety and security risks were not consulted. Nor was this topic discussed at the Hillsboro Airport Roundtable Exchange before it disbanded last year.

  • Please specify the number of student pilots currently served by Horizon Air at HIO.
  • How many flight hours is each student required to log for commercial certification?
  • Please identify the country of origin of the pilots Horizon Air is currently serving and those this company intends to serve in the future.
  • Please identify the number of pilots training from outside the state and identify their individual states and jurisdictions of origin.
  • Please identify the number of pilots training from any and all jurisdictions in Oregon.
  • Please identify the specific flight paths utilized by Horizon Air.
  • How many HIO operations has Horizon Air logged to date? Please identify the months and years they were logged.
  • Has Horizon Air trained pilots from North Korea, Russia, or Syria? If so when and how many? Please provide this information on an annual and monthly basis.
  • Is Horizon Air currently training pilots from any of these countries?
  • Is Horizon Air partnering with other Oregon airports in providing commercial training? If so, please identify the airports involved.
  • Is Horizon Air partnering with Oregon businesses in providing commercial training? If so, please identify the businesses involved.
  • Is Horizon Air partnering with Oregon educational institutions in providing commercial training? If so, please identify the educational institutions involved.

Questions Specific to the Scappoose Airpark

There appears to be a network of airports throughout region which are engaged in flight training activities. Information from these facilities could help shed light on this issue. Since Vince Granato, the Chief Operating Officer for the Port of Portland, was appointed by the Governor to serve on the board of the State Department of Aviation he is in a key role to coordinate information flow between the two agencies.

  • How many pilots have trained at the Scappoose Airpark, which is closely associated with State Senator Betsy Johnson, who owns a business at this facility?
  • To what extent has Senator Johnson personally and financially benefited from the flight training industry?
  • To what extent has Senator Johnson personally and financially benefited from Oregon legislation specifically designed to promote flight training and other aviation activity in Oregon?
  • How many pilots have trained at the Scappoose Airpark? Please provide numbers on a monthly and annual basis starting when flight training first commenced at this facility.
  • Please identify the specific companies that provide the training.
  • How many student pilots training at this facility are currently or have in the past been associated with Hillsboro Aero Academy / Hillsboro Aviation?
  • How many are from outside the country? Please identify the specific countries served and include a breakdown of the number of pilots served from each country on a monthly and annual basis. How many are from outside the state? Please identify the specific states served.
  • To what extent, if any, is Senator Johnson likely to personally benefit from the $7.5 million in state money approved by the legislature for the establishment of an innovation center in the vicinity of her private business at the Scappoose Airpark?[12]

Questions Specific to the State Department of Aviation and Other Airports in the Region

The State Department of Aviation oversees a number of airports. In addition there are a number of privately owned public use airports in the region including, but not limited to, Stark Twin Oaks and Skyport.

  • Please provide information on the businesses served at each facility?
  • How many of these businesses are involved in flight training?
  • How many pilots have trained at each of Oregon's state owned airports? How many pilots have trained at Oregon airports that are not owned by the state? Please provide a breakdown by airport. Please provide numbers on a monthly and annual basis starting when flight training first commenced at each facility.
  • Please identify the specific companies that provide the training at each airport.
  • How many student pilots at each airport are from outside the country? Please identify the specific countries served and include a breakdown of the number of pilots served from each country on a monthly and annual basis.
  • How many student pilots at each airport are from outside the state? Please identify the specific states served and include a breakdown of the number of pilots served from each country on a monthly and annual basis.
  • If the pilots trained are from Oregon, please identify the jurisdictions from which they originate and specify the number of pilots served on a monthly and annual basis. Please provide this information on a per airport basis.

Concluding Remarks

Unfortunately Hillsboro Aviation, Hillsboro Aero Academy and others involved in the flight training industry throughout the region have achieved their success by exploiting and degrading the quality of life, environment, livability, safety and security of area residents.

The decision by the Port of Portland, Portland Community College, the aviation industry, and local and state officials who, either actively or passively, promote flight training at the expense of national security, the environment and livability poses a serious threat to the greater good as does the failure of these agencies to act in a responsible and transparent manner. The public has a right to know who is circling their homes and properties at all hours of the day and night.


[1] Hammill, Luke. Hillsboro Aviation Sells Flight Training School, But Day-to-Day Operations Not Likely to Change. (12/2/14). Last accessed on-line on 8/20/17 at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2014/12/hillsboro_aviation_sells_fligh.html.

[2] International Student Information. Hillsboro Aero Academy website. Last accessed online on 8/23/17 at http://www.flyhaa.com/student-resources/international-students/.

[3] Siemers, Erik. After Pact with Horizon, Hillsboro School Aims to be Training Ground for Commercial Pilots. Portland Business Journal. (12/14/16). Last accessed on 9/11/17 at https://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2016/12/12/after-pact-with-horizon-hillsboro-school-aims-to.html.

[4] Hillsboro Aviation Prepared to Support General Aviation Growth in China. Vertical Magazine. (3/5/11) Last accessed on-line on 9/14/17 at https://www.verticalmag.com/features/hillsboro-aviation-prepared-to-support-general-aviation-growth-in-china-html/.

[5] About Us. Hillsboro Aviation Website. Last Accessed in April of 2013.

[6] Hachman, Carl. Troutdale Flight School is International Cockpit for Pilots. Portland Tribune. (6/4/13). Last accessed on-line on 8/20/17 at http://portlandtribune.com/go/44-features/153866-troutdale-flight-school-is-international-cockpit-for-pilots.

[7] Bailey, Everton. Police Kill Gunman Who Tried to Hijack Helicopter at Hillsboro Airport. Oregonian / Oregon Live. (7/3/17). Last accessed on-line on 9/12/17 at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2017/07/police_investigating_reported.html.

[8] Bailey, Everton. Police Identify Attempted Helicopter Hijacker Killed by Officer. Oregonian / Oregon Live. (7/5/17). Last accessed on-line on 9/12/17 at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2017/07/police_identify_attempted_heli.html.

[9] Friedman, Gordon. Heading to Korea, Sen. Merkley Cites 'Extraordinary Risk of Potential War.' Oregonian / OregonLive (8/18/17}. Last accessed on-line on 8/20/17 at http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/08/heading_to_korea_sen_merkley_c.html.

[10] CNBC Reuters. China Builds New Military Facilities on South China Sea Islands: Think Tank. (6/30/17). Last accessed on-line at https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/30/china-builds-military-facilities-south-china-sea-islands.html.

[11] Pamplin Media Group. Hillsboro Aero, Horizon Air Strike Deal for New Pilots. (12/12/16). Last accessed on-line on 9/11/17 at http://pamplinmedia.com/ht/117-hillsboro-tribune-news/336133-216106-hillsboro-flight-school-partners-with-seattle-airline-to-train-next-generation-of-pilots.

[12] Vaughn, Courtney. State Releases $7.5 Million for Innovation Center. Columbia County Spotlight: Pamplin Media Group. (5/25/16). Last accessed on 9/11/17 at http://www.pamplinmedia.com/scs/83-news/308739-186801-state-releases-75-million-for-innovation-center.

9/12/17 Hillsboro Airport Master Planning Committee Meeting

The date and location for the next Hillsboro Airport Master Planning Advisory Committee are as follows.

Date: September 12, 2017, Tuesday
Time: 5:30 to 8:15 pm
Public Comment: 7:10 pm
Location: Hillsboro Civic Center, City Council Meeting Room
Address: 150 East Main St., Hillsboro, Oregon

The agenda for the meeting is available at https://popcdn.azureedge.net/pdfs/2017_0831_HIO%20MP%20PAC%204%20Final%20Draft.pdf.

In 2017 the Port of Portland convened a committee to explore future growth and expansion at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO). Most members of the advisory group were either hand-picked by the Port of Portland or Washington County Commission Chair Andy Duyck. Commissioner Duyck is on record as supporting unlimited growth at this facility regardless of the negative noise, environmental and health impacts routinely born by the constituents he was elected to represent.

Hillsboro Airport - Primarily a Flight Training Facility

Hillsboro Airport has been in existence for nearly 90 years. During that time it has grown from a grassy airstrip to the largest and most polluting general aviation airport in Oregon, yet an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has never been prepared to comprehensively address the environmental degradation caused by this facility. The bulk of the operations at HIO are training flights. In 2016 HIO logged 197,763 operations. Of that number 115,353 were local touch and go training operations that circle repetitively within 4 to 5 miles of the airport below 2000 feet. A substantial portion of the 77,778 itinerant flights are student pilots who often practice in otherwise quiet rural and wooded areas within 20 miles of HIO. These numbers suggest that at least three-quarters, likely more, of HIO operations are on behalf of the flight training industry and Portland Community College's student pilot program.

Hillsboro Airport and Other Washington County Airports - Sources of PM 2.5 and Ozone Emissions

During this summer of smoky haze and frequent air quality alerts due to high levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 and ozone, it is important to bear in mind that in Washington County, HIO is the number 2 facility source of PM 2.5 emissions, surpassed only by Stimson Lumber. Stark's Twin Oaks, a flight training airport located 6 miles south of HIO, ranks third and Skyport, also a flight training facility, holds fifth place. Of the 23 Washington County facility sources of PM 2.5 listed in the 2011 EPA National Emissions Inventory, 21 are airports.

Documented scientific research has identified aviation activity with increased ozone levels. Both PM 2.5 and ozone are linked with potentially serious asthma exacerbations, diminished lung functioning, respiratory problems and cardiac complications including an increased risk for heart attacks.

Given the severe consequences of climate change and environmental pollution, how long do the Port of Portland, Portland Community College, and the fossil fuel burning aviation sector intend to continue promoting business as usual while Oregon burns?

Recommended reading:

10 Policies to Prevent and Respond to Childhood Lead Exposure

(Report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts on 8/30/17)

September 7, 2017

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released a collaborative report entitled 10 Policies to Prevent and Respond to Childhood Lead Exposure. According to the study, "The effort was guided by a diverse group of advisers and experts from fields including environmental and public health, child development, economics, housing, health care, environmental, and social justice, and drinking water engineering. In addition, input from stakeholders, including families whose children have suffered the toxic effects of lead, provided valuable insights." The report finds that children of color and those who live in low-income communities are at a disproportionate risk of lead exposure. (Page 1)

A summary of the report along with an option for downloading the entire document is available at the Pew Charitable Trusts website: 10 Policies to Prevent and Respond to Childhood Lead Exposure.

The report identifies the primary sources of lead exposure and explores the benefits of removing lead from drinking water in homes, schools and childcare facilities. It provides information and recommendations for removing lead paint from older homes and buildings. In addition, it promotes lead-safe renovation, repair and painting practices and emphasizes the importance of addressing soil contamination. Reducing lead in food and other consumer products is also discussed as is reducing airborne lead emissions caused by leaded aviation fuel, lead smelting and battery recycling facilities.

Aviation Lead

Below are some excerpts from the report that directly address aviation lead emissions.

"Eliminating lead from airplane fuel would protect more than 226,000 children born in 2018 who live near airports, generate $262 million in future benefits, and remove roughly 450 tons of lead from the environment every year." (Page 2)

"Leaded fuel used by piston engine aircraft is the nation's largest source of lead emissions into the air, with approximately 167,000 aircraft emitting about 450 tons a year. These planes constitute 71 percent of the U.S. air fleet..." (Page 63).

"In 2010, the EPA estimated that about half of lead emissions from aircraft remains in the vicinity of the airport, and that approximately 16 million people live near the roughly 20,000 U.S. airports that serve aircraft running on leaded fuel and 3 million children attend school near these airports. Most of these are small, general aviation facilities serving civilian, noncommercial flights, such as private or corporate planes, flying schools, and sightseeing tours. In one study, children who lived within 0.6 miles of an airport were found to have blood lead levels that are 5.7 percent higher than those of children residing more than 2.5 miles from airports." (Page 63).

"...experts suggested that removing lead from the fuel would decrease pilots' and aircraft fuelers' contact with lead, potentially reducing take-home exposure." (Page 64)

"In 2012, the FAA estimated that phasing out leaded fuel would take 11 years. According to a recent federal task force report, the FAA is working to identify unleaded alternative fuels for most piston engine aircraft by 2018, and under section 231 of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is evaluating whether lead emissions from aviation fuel 'cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.' Based on the results of its investigation, the EPA could help to expedite the elimination of lead in aviation fuel by using its authority under the act to issue an 'endangerment finding,' indicating that leaded aircraft fuel emissions are polluting and harmful to public health. Such a ruling would trigger the FAA to issue standards."

"Given the protracted timelines for federal action, however, states may wish to take steps to address the problem by, for example, requiring all general aviation airports to provide unleaded gas or establishing fees or taxes on airports serving piston engine aircraft to support the cleanup of the soil in parks and near homes, schools, and child care facilities." (Page 65)

To reduce airborne lead emissions the report recommends the following.

  • "The EPA should implement the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee's recommendation to reduce the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead to 0.02 g/m3 and prioritize regulation of concentrations around lead smelting and battery recycling facilities."
  • "The FAA should eliminate lead from aviation gas and identify alternative formulas that can minimize the cost to airport and plane operators, and the EPA should issue an endangerment finding that lead emissions from aircraft threaten public health and promulgate emissions limits, which would then require the FAA to adopt regulations to ensure compliance with those standards."
  • "State and local governments should impose fees on airports serving piston engine aircraft that rely on leaded gas and use the revenue to finance the cleanup of soil in surrounding residential neighborhoods, parks, and school districts." (Page 82)

Health Impacts of Lead Exposure

The report includes the following statements on the health impacts of lead.

"Lead's adverse health impacts have been recognized since at least the second century B.C. Since then, thousands of studies have concluded that lead has wide-ranging effects on the health of young children and significant costs to taxpayers. Even at very low levels, lead exposure affects the brain's ability to control impulses and process information. Lead-poisoned children are more likely to struggle in school, drop out, get into trouble with the law, underperform in the workplace, and earn less throughout their lives, independent of other social and economic factors. The financial consequences of these outcomes include billions of dollars in public spending on special education, juvenile justice and other social services." (Page 1)

"Prevention is the most critical and first approach to addressing childhood lead exposure, but those efforts have come too late for many children. Children exposed to lead may demonstrate delays in development of language skills, problems focusing, poor impulse control, and disruptive behavior. They are more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability, to struggle to pass achievement tests, and to have lower IQs and worse academic achievement than other children. Recent research has found that among young adults exposed to lead as children, the areas of the brain important for language can reorganize to facilitate language; however this reorganization does not necessarily compensate for the effects of lead on language function. Research suggests that exposure to lead has particularly detrimental effects on children's executive functioning, such as working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These skills help children retain and manipulate information over short periods; sustain or shift attention in response to different demands; set priorities; and resist impulsive actions, responses, or judgments. If children do not receive appropriate early interventions, lead-related deficits can ripple through their lives. For example, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is common among lead poisoned children, is a strong predictor of social isolation, which in turn can decrease school success and increase risky behaviors. All of these problems become risk factors for delinquency, criminal behavior, substance use, and pregnancy in adolescence and young adulthood." (Page 69)

Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning

Since Oregon Aviation Watch focuses on aviation related issues, this update primarily highlights the leaded aviation fuel issue. However, the report considers a broad range of sources of lead exposure and poisoning that are well worth further review. The report concludes by stating that "childhood lead poisoning is preventable" and points out the significant cost savings that can be realized by protecting children from coming into contact with this toxin.

"Eliminating lead hazards from the places where children live, learn, and play will pay dividends in terms of social and educational outcomes, and this analysis found that it also could yield $84 billion in long-term benefits per birth cohort. The federal government would reap about $19 billion, and states would gain approximately $10 billion for children born in 2018 alone. In the absence of lead, hundreds of thousands of children would be more likely to realize their full potential thanks to higher GPAs, a better chance of earning high school diplomas and graduating from college, and a reduced likelihood of becoming teen parents or being convicted of crimes."

Government agencies bear responsibility for protecting the health and well-being of residents from toxic pollutants and polluters. Towards this end policy makers on the local, state and federal levels should take immediate steps to eliminate lead exposure at its source by implementing the many excellent recommendations included in the study.

Harvard Study Links Air Pollution with Premature Death

August 7, 2017

On June 28, 2017 the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health posted a press release on a Harvard New England Journal of Medicine study documenting the increased risk of premature death as a result of exposure to air pollution.

"Boston, MA - A new study of 60 million Americans—about 97% of people age 65 and older in the United States—shows that long-term exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone increases the risk of premature death, even when that exposure is at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) currently established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that men, blacks, and low-income populations had higher risk estimates from PM2.5 exposure compared with the national average, with blacks having mortality risks three times higher than the national average.

The results showed that if the level of PM2.5 could be lowered by just 1 microgram per cubic meter (ug/m3) nationwide, about 12,000 lives could be saved every year. Similarly, if the level of ozone could be lowered by just 1 part per billion (ppb) nationwide, about 1,900 lives would be saved each year."

To access the release in full click on Nationwide study of U.S. seniors strengthens link between air pollution and premature death.

The LA Times also reported on this study in a 6/28/17 article by Tony Barboza:

"At a time when the Trump administration is moving to delay and dismantle air quality regulations, a new study suggests that air pollution continues to cut Americans' lives short, even at levels well below the legal limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The nationwide study of more than 60 million senior citizens linked long-term exposure to two main smog pollutants—ozone and fine particulate matter—to an increased risk of premature death.

The analysis found no sign of a safe level of pollution, below which the risk of dying early tapered off.

Harvard University scientists who conducted the study calculated that reducing fine particle pollution by 1 microgram per cubic meter nationwide would save about 12,000 lives each year. Another 1,900 lives would be saved annually by lowering ozone pollution by 1 part per billion, they found."

To access the article in full click on Air pollution exposure may hasten death, even at levels deemed 'safe,' study says .

For a 6/28/17 National Public Broadcasting (NPR) report on the same study, click on U.S. Air Pollution Still Kills Thousands Every Year, Study Concludes.

Four New York Times Articles on Aviation and Climate Change

August 5, 2017

To read the full article, click on its title.

Flying is Bad for the Planet. You Can Help Make it Better by Tatiana Schlossberg (7/27/17)

"Take one round-trip flight between New York and California, and you've generated about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases that your car emits over an entire year. If you are like many people, flying may be a large portion of your carbon footprint. Over all, the aviation industry accounts for 11 percent of all transportation-related emissions in the United States."

How a Warming Climate Will Trouble Air Travel by Aneri Pattani (7/17/17)

"Rising temperatures and more frequent heat waves could force up to 30 percent of airplanes to delay takeoffs in the coming decades, causing cancellations, missed connections and other hassles for passengers, and dealing a financial blow to the industry, a new study finds. As air warms, its density decreases. The wings of a plane moving down the runway on a hot day generate less lift. If it's hot enough, the plane won't be able to take off at all, according to the study, published in the journal Climatic Change."

Too Hot to Fly? Climate Change May Take a Toll on Air Travel by Zach Wichter (6/20/17)

"In recent days, American Airlines has been forced to cancel more than 40 flights in Phoenix. The reason: With daytime highs hovering around 120 degrees, it was simply too hot for some smaller jets to take off. Hotter air is thinner air, which makes it more difficult—and sometimes impossible—for planes to generate enough lift. As the global climate changes, disruptions like these are likely to become more frequent, researchers say, potentially making air travel costlier and less predictable with a greater risk of injury to travelers from increased turbulence."

Over 190 Countries Adopt Plan to Offset Air Travel Emissions by Henry Fountain (10/6/16)

"Governments from more than 190 countries on Thursday adopted a measure that for the first time will reduce the climate impact of international jet travel. The accord adds an exclamation point to a week in which enough countries signed onto the broader Paris climate deal to ensure that it will enter into force later this year."

File Aviation Noise Complaints

July 23, 2017

File aviation noise complaints by clicking on the following link: OAW Noise Complaint Form. (You can also find the link under the File a Complaint menu at the top of this page.)

The form allows you to craft your own message and send it to any or all of several agencies and institutions who are involved in aviation activity in our area. If you are subjected to repeated noise intrusions, feel free to file multiple complaints.

In addition we urge you to contact Governor Kate Brown's citizen line 503-378-4582 or Share Your Opinion Page to voice concerns, as she is responsible for appointing the members of the Port of Portland Board of Commissioners as well as the board members who serve on behalf of the State Board of Aviation.

You can also file complaints with the Department of Environmental Quality DEQ Hotline at 888-997-7888.

Washington County Residents Pelted by Aircraft Noise

Residents in Washington County are routinely plagued by frequent aviation noise intrusions. The biggest offender is the Port of Portland. Without public consent, a democratic vote of the people, or consideration for the environment, this state agency promotes and accommodates flight training activity on behalf of private training schools, the largest of which is Hillsboro Aero Academy, a school that is owned in large part by out of state investors.

The Academy trains pilots at two Port owned general aviation airports - Hillsboro and Troutdale. A review of the records suggests that 80 to 90 percent, perhaps more, of all take-offs and landings at the Hillsboro Airport are training operations. Many of the students are recruited from outside the country. The implication is that the Port and its FAA accomplice routinely invest public monies specifically to train foreign pilots. In so doing these agencies willfully and autocratically burden impacted communities with noise, toxic emissions, safety and security risks.

PCC Aviation Science Students Degrading the Environment and Livability

Student pilots enrolled in the publicly funded Portland Community College (PCC) Aviation Sciences program play a major role in undermining the livability and quality of life of area residents. PCC contracts with Hillsboro Aero Academy to provide the approximately 270 hours of flight training each student is required to log prior to receiving certification. To put this in perspective, 270 hours is equal to 11 days of noise per student. Assuming 100 students are enrolled, this translates into more than 3 years of noise, the impact of which is borne by people who are expected to foot the bill while being denied a voice in the process.

The disdain PCC has long demonstrated towards the community in regards to the environment, public health, and livability by investing public educational dollars in an effort to increase profits for themselves, the Port and private aviation business interests should prompt voters to question their support for future ballot measures. Why should taxpayers subsidize a school that aligns with totalitarian regimes, poisons the air, generates oft-times relentless noise, disrupts sleep, and leaves the community vulnerable to safety and security risks?

Pilot licensure also requires students to accrue night-time flying experience, which leads to sleep disruption and deprivation for impacted residents. In addition general aviation night flights are known to present additional risk factors. It is noteworthy that a July 2015 night-time helicopter crash in Newberg resulted in the death of the flight instructor and student pilot who was receiving training through Klamath Community College. The accident prompted the President of Klamath Community College to state that the school did not include night-time flying in its curriculum.[1] Sadly, PCC does not abide by this same restriction. On the contrary, PCC encourages its aviation science students to run roughshod over the rights of others both during day and night-time hours with no consideration whatsoever for those on the ground.

Aviation industry documentation cites a number of reasons for the heightened risk posed by night-time flying including, but not limited to, reduced visibility, increased spatial disorientation, and fatigue.[2]

Per a 2012 Plane & Pilot article,

"Accident statistics suggest that flying by night accounts for about 10% of the general aviation accidents, but 30% of the fatalities. That suggests night flying must be inherently more dangerous than aviating when the sun is up. The rules for night flying are more stringent in many countries than they are in the U.S., apparently in recognition of an increased level of risk."[3]

Despite these documented risks PCC, the Port, Hillsboro Aero Academy and others who place their self interest and personal gain above the greater good, continue to subject area residents to sleep disruption, health impacts, and safety risks associated with recreational flying and flight training in Washington County.


[1] House, Kelly. Man Killed in Newberg Helicopter Crash Identified as Klamath Community College Student. Oregonian/OregonLive. (7/5/17). Accessed on 7/23/17 at http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/07/aviation_student_instructor_wh.html.

[2] Trescott, Max. Night Flying Safety. AVweb. (11/6/05). Last accessed on 7/23/17 at http://www.avweb.com/news/airman/190849-1.html.

[3] Cox, Bill. Twenty Things You May Not Know About Night Flying. Plane & Pilot: Aircraft Mechanic School. (5/22/12). Last accessed on 7/23/17 at http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/proficiency/flight-training/20-things-you-may-not-know-about-night-flying.html?start=1#.VZrF7xtVhHw.

Burien Successfully Challenges FAA SeaTac Flight Path Change

May 16, 2017

A King 5 news report announced a decision by the FAA to stop a 2016 SeaTac flight path change that resulted in a dramatic increase in jet traffic over Burien. Due to extensive community outcry in conjunction with strong support from the City of Burien, the FAA backed down. See "Burien Declares Victory In Battle with FAA Over Flight Noise". for additional information and to access the report.

According to a February 14, 2017 petition filed on behalf of the City of Burien in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by attorneys Matthew Adams and Jessica Duggan from Dentons US LLP law firm in San Francisco,

"In the summer of 2016, without notice to the City or its residents, the FAA began experimenting with the New Route, resulting in significant noise impacts to parks, schools, residential neighborhoods, and other noise-sensitive areas...The City and its residents have suffered - and will continue to suffer - significant adverse impacts as a result of the FAA's New Route."

See http://burienwa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/6913 to review petition. An additional media report on this topic is available at http://q13fox.com/2017/04/17/burien-sues-faa-to-stop-flights-overhead.

Congratulations to the Quiet Skies Coalition of Burien and the City of Burien for mounting this successful challenge.

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