THE global economic downturn dealt a painful blow to the general aviation industry.
At Van Nuys Airport, a major economic engine of the San Fernando Valley, the airfield’s largest employers have cut jobs by an unprecedented 41 percent. Since 2003, takeoffs and landings have declined an average of 10 percent per year. To put this in perspective, the last time operations dipped this low was in 1962 – when John F. Kennedy was president and man had not yet walked on the moon.
In the midst of the most severe economic downturn in the history of private aviation, the last thing Los Angeles needs is more restrictions placed on businesses that would cause additional jobs to be lost or companies to relocate. What is needed now is for elected officials and business leaders to work together to promote economic development in our community, not restrict or prevent it.
The Van Nuys Airport Association represents the more than 100 businesses and 5,800 employees who call Van Nuys Airport home. We strongly oppose legislation proposed by California Reps. Brad Sherman, Howard Berman and Adam Schiff to impose a nighttime ban on aircraft operations at both Van Nuys Airport and Burbank Airport. Not only is it unreasonable, but harmful to local businesses and workers already struggling to survive.
We are extremely disappointed that the airport community and other key stakeholders were not included in any discussions of the bill’s impacts prior to it being proposed, nor were we provided the opportunity to offer alternative solutions.
Van Nuys Airport has implemented both mandatory and voluntary noise abatement programs that have successfully reduced the impact of airport operations on the community and decreased its noise footprint. These programs include the mandatory Noise Abatement and Curfew Regulation (which imposes a mandatory curfew on the noisiest jets between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.), voluntary Quiet Jet Departure Program and Residential Soundproofing Program.
Van Nuys Airport has also invested in a full-time noise abatement officer position, a 24-hour community hotline and a state-of-the-art flight tracking system to more effectively address the noise concerns of airport neighbors.
In addition, takeoffs and landings of jet aircraft at Van Nuys Airport account for less than 1 percent of total annual operations. Any attempt to implement a mandatory curfew under the guise of major noise reduction is both misleading to the community and fiscally irresponsible.
Besides negatively impacting the national transportation system, such a restriction could also increase the density of airport operations during noncurfew hours and force more aircraft into the already overcongested Los Angeles International Airport airspace, a safety and environmental issue the supporters of the proposed bill have failed to consider.
Serving private, government and corporate aviation needs, Van Nuys Airport contributes $1.3 billion annually to the local economy, supports more than 12,300 jobs and contributes more than $80 million in state and local taxes annually. It is also a center for fire, police and medical emergency flights that provide life-saving services to the community.
By providing a dedicated facility for general aviation, Van Nuys Airport increases efficiency and reduces congestion at the region’s commercial airports. As the vast majority of flights during nighttime hours are for time-critical sales and technical purposes, a mandatory curfew would further cripple the very businesses and jobs our city, our state and our nation are fighting to save.
San Fernando Valley businesses and employees are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions. Now, more than ever, we must oppose legislation that would result in additional and undue economic hardship.