Monday, June 23, 2008
FAA, LA Mayor Oppose Burbank Curfew Plan
By Kerry Lynch
Aviation Week & Space Technology
The Federal Aviation Administration and Los Angeles officials joined a number of industry leaders expressing opposition to a proposal to impose a mandatory nighttime curfew at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. (BUR). The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority has undertaken a Part 161 study to impose a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. for all operations except in cases of medical, emergency or military flights. The curfew would provide a one-hour grace period after 10 p.m. for mechanical or weather delays. The airport authority endorsed the curfew as the best option to meet its goal to “eliminate or significantly reduce nighttime noise” at BUR. The proposal also won the backing of Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who said in a joint letter that a curfew “would impact a relatively small number of diverted flights (mostly cargo and general aviation) while delivering significant reductions in both the projected noise impact contour at the airport and costs associated with sound mitigation.” The Airports Council International-North America submitted comments in support, as did some of the local homeowners associations and the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, which said the majority of its board members voted in favor of the curfew.
But in its comments on the Part 161 study, FAA expressed concerns that the proposal failed to meet the statutory requirements necessary for restricting Stage 3 aircraft. FAA, which stressed that its comments did not represent a final decision on the matter, questioned whether the restriction was reasonable, citing insufficient evidence of a projected noise problem. “BUR has not made a convincing argument of unacceptable growth of a nighttime noise problem that cannot and should not be cost-effectively managed with a continuation of existing measures.”
The forecast increase in operations involves scheduling that would fall within the time frame of the existing voluntary curfew, FAA said, noting that the voluntary measures are well established at the airport.
But even if the airport authority accurately projected an increase in noise, FAA said, then the airport authority underestimated the ramifications of diverting the traffic to nearby airports under a mandatory curfew. “BUR, without sufficient rationale, has arbitrarily established a goal to eliminate nighttime aircraft noise,” FAA said.
“If more aircraft are crammed into the 7 a.m. time frame, it has significant impact” for the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center airspace, and particularly for a number of large hub destinations such as Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and Salt Lake City and other busy destinations such as Honolulu, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco, the agency said.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushed for a more regional solution, noting that Van Nuys (VNY) and Los Angeles International (LAX) airports are working on their own Part 161 study to address noise issues – but neither are pursuing an overnight curfew.