Airport Authority Chair announces agreement in the works to address military jet noise

The military and the FAA already have drafted a letter of agreement to move forward on these changes
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 4:20 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Love them or hate them the military jets at the Wilmington International Airport appear to be here to stay; however, airport officials say they have worked with the military to help mitigate some of the noise concerns that some neighbors have.

News about possible solutions came at the New Hanover County Commissioners meeting Monday morning.

The chair of the airport authority board, Donna Girardot, said the military will make several changes, which include adjusting flight paths and altitude limits.

“I understand that as of this morning the military and the FAA already have drafted a letter of agreement to move forward on these changes and these protocol changes, as well as the flight pattern changes,” she said.

Girardot told commissioners airport leadership has worked for months on finding a solution.

“In order to address this issue ILM, as an honest broker, has between the FBO, the fixed-base operator, the tower, the military, and the FAA to find a solution to this issue,” she said.

However, there are neighbors who have expressed their concerns in the past that cast some doubt on her claims.

“I was at the meeting October 25 and the FAA representative that was there said at that meeting this is the first we’re hearing of this. We weren’t even aware that this was an issue until September,” Tracy Sloop, a Wilmington resident who has been leading the charge to make changes said.

Emails from members of the airport authority, including Giradot, also paint a different picture, one that is not as receptive to brokering a change.

“ILM does not have the ability to restrict or prohibit aircraft operations based on noise, particularly military or government aircraft, and we cannot restrict the business at the FBO. There are many other challenges related to COVID-19, Air Service, and the ILM Business Park Development that requires the full attention of our staff. The airport will not take any further action on the topic of Military training and noise,” part of a draft letter from Girardot to State Representative Deb Butler read.

When reached for comment on the exact changes, Interim Airport Director Gary Broughton said, “The resolution that Donna referred to this morning is actually a Letter of Agreement that is being created between the FAA and Military. We are not privy to the agreement other than this should be a mitigation to the noise issue.”

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