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Westover reveals details of noise study

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CHICOPEE, MA (WSHM) -

Westover Air Reserve base officials revealed the results of a noise and safety study to the public Wednesday night.

The Air Installation Compatible Use Zone study or AICUZ lays out the base's impact on the surrounding community.

Westover engineers say not much has changed over the years, but this study helps the base be a better neighbor to the surrounding towns.

Westover is home to 16 massive C-5 planes, and on base it can get noisy.

"We do what we can to minimize the noise, but like any airport we have large aircraft, we will have noise. We just want them to be aware of who that affects, where it goes out to and who to contact if they have any problems," said Col. Steven Vautrain, commander of the 439th Airwing.

People living near the base often hear the massive aircrafts taking off or landing. Westover engineers equate the average noise level to a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower.

Westover officials say they want to have the least amount of negative impact on the community as possible. They say this study makes that possible.

"We look at noise as a big piece of it but the other piece we look at is safety," said Wayne Williams, Westover's civil engineer.

The study also takes into account areas off each of the four runways that are called "accident potential zones."

In 2012, an F-18 in Virginia came crashing into an apartment complex just a few miles from a base there. Westover officials say accidents like that highlight the need for these studies.

"Within those areas, the department of defense kind of put out some guidance that says you should, you shouldn't let certain types of development go into those areas for the public's safety," Williams said.

But for residents, the safety that Westover does provide is worth a little noise.

"The noise is a little aggravating, but the protection is there and we need it," said resident Harry Swenor.

Westover officials say that a lot has also changed in the way they fly since 9/11 and the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and that has affected the results of these studies.

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