Delaying release of Growler EIS is a smart decision

  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 1:01pm
  • Opinion

Some people on Whidbey Island were disappointed to learn that Navy officials are delaying the release of a document that will govern how EA-18G Growlers practice on Whidbey Island.

The Navy announced last week that the community will have to wait 10 more months to see the final Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS.

The EIS will outline how many Growler touch-and-go practices occur at Outlying Field Coupeville and the Ault Field base.

The Navy made the right decision, and the delay represents good news for pilots and those concerned about the noise from Growler practices.

The Navy cited two recent developments that may have significant impacts on the frequency of field carrier landing practices.

The Navy is accelerating the implementation of a technology that will make landing on aircraft carriers easier and safer through automation. That’s exciting news because landing on a carrier is one of the most dangerous maneuvers in military aviation.

It may also mean a significant reduction in the number of practice flights, the Navy said.

In addition, the 10 months will give the Navy time to finalize, and analyze, a reduction in the proposed number of pilots assigned to fleet squadrons assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

This probably isn’t good news for those who see the economic benefits of the growth in base personnel, but it will likely mean fewer practice flights.

A federal agency, a state agency and many hundreds of people on Whidbey and beyond read the draft EIS and offered comments for the Navy about a wide range of concerns.

The Navy says each of those comments will be replied to in the final document.

A decrease in the flights won’t alleviate all those concerns, but it will give officials time to analyze new information and create a document that is as up to date as possible.

Though perhaps frustrated by a delay, open mindeness and patience may bring a payoff.

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