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Following a joint meeting, ILM officials hopeful a solution is on the way for jet noise

As far as what the solutions will look like, that will be up to the FAA and the military to determine
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After months of complaints from Wilmington residents officials at the Wilmington International Airport (ILM) are hopeful that a solution is on the way. On Monday, State Representative Deb Butler along with members of the Marine Corps, the Federal Aviation Administration, ILM Interim Director Gary Broughton, and a concerned resident met at the airport to discuss possible noise abatements.

The increase in military jets at ILM is thanks to the airport’s fixed-base operator (FBO), Modern Aviation, providing a service called ‘hot fueling’ and contracts with the military to use their services.

It’s been a sensitive subject for people involved as ILM officials tell me they are unable to get involved with the business of their FBO, and Modern Aviation has relied on its military contracts to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, the airport and others were not welcoming to Butler’s requests for solutions, but after she took it upon herself to call a meeting with the military, she says that attitude has changed.

“They were very receptive, I don’t understand why my initial foray to the airport was sort of dismissed. My job is not to vilify any of the parties involved. I love the airport, the military has my full support, but so do the people I represent,” Butler said.

Some people have turned the topic political saying that if you don’t support the military planes operating at ILM then you don’t support the Military, but Butler said that things are not so black and white and that is far from the truth.

“The public is sick and tired of this all-or-nothing thinking, we’ve got to remember the art of compromise. I am so encouraged that we seem to be on the right path at least thus far,” Butler said.

She’s not the only one who is looking forward to a solution.

“I am confident or at least hopeful that the military and the FAA, which is who this is really between right now — It’s the military using the airport and the FAA who controls the airspace — to be able to come to a peaceful solution that says the military can still use Modern Aviation at this airport for their fuel contract, and yet be sympathetic and conscientious when it comes to the noise that is generated,” Interim Director of ILM Gary Broughton said.

In an email to Butler, New Hanover County Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman said, “You just helped have ILM declared persona not [sic] grata to the military.”

When asked for clarification on her statement to Butler, Boseman responded:

“The military planes we see and hear are our troops training so they can protect and serve our country. It’s extremely important that they have that opportunity, and the fact that ILM is a location they have selected is something I take pride in. I know it isn’t always convenient and can be loud at times, but we need to be supportive of their work. I think because of some of the pushback the military has received over this, it has made ILM seem like we don’t want them or our community doesn’t want them.

“But I know that’s not true – because, while I have seen a lot of negative social media posts, there have been a lot of positive messages as well. I want ILM to be a welcoming aviation destination and that includes our military, and I would hope the rest of the community does too.”

As far as what the solutions will look like, that will be up to the FAA and the military to determine, neither of which had answered requests for comments at the time of publication.

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