Jacksonville, FL - More Naval air traffic could be coming to Jacksonville’s Westside.
The Navy has completed an Environmental Assessment to weigh more activity at Naval Outlying Landing Field Whitehouse and found there would be no significant impact. The proposed action would continue current training operations, transition to next generation aircraft training, and conduct contingency Field Carrier Landing Practice operations when primary training locations are not available.
The Navy says OLF Whitehouse is “particularly useful” for the carrier practice operations because there is less artificial light than other airfields closer to urban areas, making the conditions closer to at-sea lighting.
The formal “Finding of No Significant Impact” notes that not making any changes in the operations at OLF Whitehouse is “not a viable alternative”.
The proposed action includes adding up to 19,236 annual average flight operations over the roughly 24,000 that are already done at the site. The Navy notes that these additional flight operations are not anticipated to actually occur every year, though, and would likely be in two-week periods when they do.
The biggest concern traditionally raised with the increase in traffic is the increase in noise. The Navy says there would be a minor increase in community noise exposure, and it would be noticeable if all of the operations were to actually take place in a given year. Even in that maximum operations scenario, however, the Navy says they would fall below typical planning thresholds.
When it comes to air quality, wildlife, and socioeconomics, the Navy says there would be no significant impact as well. There could be “negligible to minor adverse effects” on recreation in the area, like the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, because of noise. There is also “a less than significant potential risk” for mishaps in connection with the aircraft as a result of the increase in operations, but the report notes the aircraft would continue to operate according to established safety protocols.
In all, US Fleet Forces Command says the main impact for people living in the area comes as a result of the additional flight operations, which are largely on a contingency basis. Day-to-day, a spokesman says you should not see any significant impact.
The Navy does not need any further clearance now to move forward with the additional operations.