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Independent Study Refutes Developer's Ferry Flight Claims

April 16, 2024

The developer of the North Airfield hangar project for private luxury jets has claimed that the project will reduce both Greenhouse Gas emissions and the number of flights due to elimination of "ferry flights. A new study has found these claims to be incorrect and without foundation.

At 522,000 square feet, covering 50 acres, and nearly 2/3 miles in length, the proposed hangar project would more than double the private jet hangar capacity at Hanscom Field and is the largest such project known anywhere. The developer was required to file a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) to comply with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), which was made public in March with a public comment period until May 10th.

The developer claims in its Draft Environmental Impact Report that despite this huge increase in airport infrastructure, the project would not increase aircraft operations or greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Instead, it is claimed that this project will be “net zero” and actually decrease flights and emissions due to a reduction in "ferry flights." (to understand ferry flights, read this explanation.)  

Independent review of developer’s claims

Citizen groups, who found this zero-impact claim to be implausible and contrary to common sense, commissioned the firm Industrial Economics Inc. to independently evaluate the developer’s claims. A detailed analysis of the prior year’s flight operations was performed to test the proponent's claim that the project would result in the elimination of “3,543 ferry flights” per year. The report found that the project would eliminate only 132 ferry flights, but it would add approximately 6,000 more regular flights, contrary to the proponent’s claim. The report finds the 132 eliminated ferry flights would save approximately 100 tons of GHG per year but added flights would overwhelm this savings and add around 150,000 tons.

Summary conclusions include:

  • “Emissions associated with full utilization of planned capacity far outweigh any emissions savings … by a factor of 950 to 3,900”
  • “The DEIR errs in finding that the new hangar capacity will not increase operations or GHG emissions”
  • Regarding Logan Airport, the study found that the project would not reduce any ferry flights at Logan Airport and might instead add flights.

These findings call into question the thoroughness and reliability of the developer's submissions. Citizen groups are concerned that the proponents are attempting to disguise the environmental effects of the project in order to dispel widespread public objection to it and relieve the developer of further review or permitting requirements. Over 80 state and local organizations across MA have expressed objections to the project due to high GHG emissions and social injustice, and over 14,000 citizens have signed a petition to the Governor asking her to fulfill her climate commitments by stopping this project.

Based on this new report, these citizen groups call on the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to reject the developer’s submissions as disingenuous, inadequate, and incompatible with the Commonwealth’s climate plans.

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