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    Airport Data Shows Comm'l Aircraft (Over 75,000 lbs.) As A Group Exceeded Takeoff Noise Budget From April 1/02-March 31/03; Suggests Over 41 Flights/Day Over 75,000 Lbs. Won't Fit Under Oct 1/02-Sept. 30/03 Group Noise Performance

    (June 20. 2003) -- LB Airport actual monitored noise produced by large commercial aircraft (over 75,000 pounds) as a class during a four quarter period spanning April 1, 2002 through March 31, 2003 suggests that more than 41 flights per day will not fit under LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance when the group's noise performance is calculated for the determinative period Oct. 1, 2002-Sept. 30, 2003.

    The data indicate that although airline flight activity (from air carriers, aircraft above 75,000 pounds) was below 41 flights per day for each of the quarters ending March 31/03, actual measured noise these air carriers as a group slighly exceeded the group's noise budget at the northwest (normal departure) end of Runway 30. At the southeast (normal approach) end, actual monitored noise was slightly below budgeted noise.

    LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, approved by a federal court, does not permit more than 41 daily commercial flights (over 75,000 pounds) if the carriers exceed their allotted noise budget at either the take-off or arrival end of Runway 30 during the prior 12 month period.

    By October 15, 2003 LB Airport is required to produce a noise analysis spanning the period October 1, 2002 through Sept. 30, 2003 indicating whether noise generated by commercial air carriers as a class is below the noise budget provided by LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, permitting supplemental flights (above 41/day) to be allocated

    That analysis is simultaneously being independently conducted by veteran airport noise consultant Vince Mestre, P.E., whose firm (Mestre Greve Associaties) has done noise consulting work for LB Airport and numerous other airports. Determinative data will span the period Oct. 1, 2002-Sept. 30, 2003 (part of which obviously hasn't happened yet)...but the data measured by Airport staff to March 31, 2003 arguably provide a preview.

    LB Airport routinely monitors and compiles detailed noise data. With increased public interest in the subject, Airport staff released the data in graphic form with an explanatory attachment. We post these materials on a link below.

    LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, approved by a federal court, is considered by many to be among the country's most progressive. It uses empirical (real world) measured noise to provide an incentive for carriers to fly quieter aircraft and a disincentive to engage in late night flights which are computed at higher levels.

    Under the terms of an agreement between City Hall, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, City Hall is required to "perform and release for public review the noise analysis contemplated by its existing ordinance for the allocation of supplemental [above 41/day] departures by October 15, 2003 and by October 15 of each succeeding year. The City Council will consider and act on the report by November 1, 2003, and by November 1 of each succeeding year."

    Following a May 2001 Council vote (8-1, Carroll dissenting seeking two week delay) that changed LB's flight slot allocation procedures (not flight levels) to let carriers hold flight slots longer before flying them, JetBlue Airways (which was never mentioned in the public Council discussion) took all then-vacant LB flight slots for aircraft over 75,000 pounds.

    The Council action, which resulted in filling all of LB's commercial flight slots, was not required by any court or FAA requirement. The Council's May 2001 vote triggered a dispute with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines...which City Hall resolved by reaching an agreement with those air carriers. City Hall sought FAA approval for the agreement...and got it. As reported by, the FAA called the Council's action "questionable" under the agency's interpretation of federal requirements...but OK'd the agreement as avoiding litigation and mooting the issue raised by the Airlines.

    And the FAA added:

    The existing "defacto" limit of 41 regular slots (described as a "minimum" rather than a limit in Chapter 16.43) has largely been the driver of the dispute over slot allocation that led to the recent negotiations and settlement agreement. While the limit of 41 regular slots is accepted as a given for purposes of the FAA's consideration of the agreement, the FAA may separately consider the continuing basis for that limit after we have had the opportunity to review the City's analysis of the effect of current operations on the noise budget targets.

    To view the graph and its explanatory attachment, click April 1/02-March 31/03 Noise Budget Data (aircraft over 75,000 pounds).

    Related coverage:

    [ has editorially characterized the FAA's conduct as "bureaucratic bullying." Editorial: Editorial: FAA v. LB FAA v. LB]

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