The 2010 Environmental Impact Statement on the F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort indicated the "off-station" area impacted by noise at 12,463 acres. The recently released Air Installations Compatible Use Zones Planning Map (AICUZ) now predicts this to be 23,418 acres, an 88 percent increase. Close enough for government work.
The new AICUZ understates noise impact on northern Beaufort County as it is technically flawed in two fundamental ways.
It fails to take into consideration specular reflectivity (noise transmission over water). This means contour lines south, east, and west of the air station should be moved outward the width of the waterways in those directions.
Secondly, F35-A noise data was used for F35-B modeling. At the March 20 public meeting, we were told the Marine Corps does not have noise data for the F35-B, but it was the same as the F35-A. Really? No data in spite of about five years of testing?
Never miss a local story.
A huge unknown is the noise produced during the F-35B's vertical landing.
Wikipedia puts the F-35B at 3,125 pounds heavier than the F-35A, or 11 percent heavier. If launching this additional weight into the sky were "free," we all could fly. More thrust requires more energy, which equals more noise.
The AICUZ is an important document. It is used to predict the potential health risk to our children, real estate depression, safety concerns, and area development retardation. It should be done accurately.