(Sept. 20, 2002) -- LB Airport data released yesterday show air carrier flights as a class generated 284 complaints in August, 2002...over ten times the 28 complaints just a year ago in August 2001 for this category as a class.
The soaring number of complaints has swamped the Airport's telephone complaint line and forced a change in policy: not all calls will be returned...although all complaints will continue to be researched to see whether they were, in fact, violations.
The 284 August '02 complaints in the air carrier category nearly doubled the 143 complaints in the same category just a month ago in July '02...and the July '02 number was a 17 fold increase over complaints in this category as a class just five months earlier.
In February, 2002, air carrier flights as a class generated only 8 complaints. In July, 2001, they generated 15 complaints. By May, 2002, they'd hit 39. The number of complaints regarding air carrier operations has soared over 35 fold since February, 2002.
The second largest category generating complaints as a class was general aviation jets, triggering an additional 82 complaints in August '02. One year earlier in August '02, the general aviation jet category generated 34 complaints.
The total number of complaints received in August '02 from all categories (air carriers plus general aviation props, helicopters and military/public jets/props) was 413, which compared to 265 in July '02 and 172 in June '02.
Although not every complaint means a flight exceeded LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance noise limits, in August '02 nearly half did. 201 of the 413 complaints (48.7%) related to operations that exceeded LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance noise limits.
The increased number of public complaints has caused the Airport to make a change in the outgoing phone message on its complaint line. Callers are no longer told the Airport will try to return calls within 48 hours; there are simply too many.
Ms. Diggs-Jackson notes that LB Airport maintains a sophisticated noise monitoring system that automatically records the noise level of flights, whether or not complaint calls are received. This means noise violations are automatically detected with or without telephone complaints.
At the Sept. 19 Airport Advisory Commission meeting, Airport staff announced that the noise monitoring system had passed a recent independently conducted audit with flying colors, with 100% detection and correlation to flights.
The number of telephone complaints has historically been considered to understate the full magnitude of the impacts, since not all people detrimentally impacted take the time and trouble to call.
LB Airport's noise complaint hotline is (562) 570-2678. It is often staffed during business hours but when busy or on weekends, a recording is triggered. Pressing 4, then 2, will reach the complaint intake system.
The Airport's new complaint phone message informs callers:
"All calls are important to us. However, due to the high volume of calls received daily, it has become impossible to return all calls. Please leave your full name, address and telephone number, along with the date and time of the event. We will research each complaint received to verify that an aircraft operation was or was not a violation. Thank you for your call and have a nice day."