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    LB Airport Mails Mass Advisory That Main Runway Repaving Will Mean Seven Weekend Periods of Large Jet Diversions Onto Shorter Runway 25R/7L

    (June 30, 2004, updated text) -- LB Airport is sending 56,000 mail pieces to virtually all LB addresses between Carson St. and Pacific Coast Highway, from the east to west city limits, advising that for seven weekend periods between July and September 2004 (details below), large commercial jets will be diverted onto shorter alternate runway 25R/7L due to main runway repaving work, producing take offs and approaches over areas not on the Airport's usual main runway flight path.

    The diversions come as a result of a Sept. 2003 Council vote (6-2, Reyes Uranga and Webb dissenting, Lerch absent) that approved the daytime main runway closure for seven weekend periods (11 p.m. Fridays to 7 a.m. Sundays on dates specified below).

    Runway 25R/7L, nearly 3/4 of a mile shorter than the Airport's 10,000 main diagonal runway, runs east-west, oriented north of Wardlow Rd. and south of Conant St. (south of Carson St.) and is normally used by smaller aircraft except in emergencies or exigent circumstances. City management told the Council that closing the main runway during seven to eight weekend periods (instead of doing all rehab overnight) would minimize Airport cost and ensure a quality job.

    The 56,000 piece Airport mailing, with addresses taken from utility bills, includes a map (below in jpg form) indicating approximate footprints of areas it says could be impacted when the main runway is closed from 11 p.m. Fridays until 7 a. m. Sundays during the following periods:

    • July 9-11
    • July 16-18
    • July 23-25
    • July 30-August 1
    • August 6-8
    • Sept. 10-12
    • Sept. 17-19

    LGB 25R map
    7L/25R Flight Arrival/Departure Footprint. Source: Long Beach Airport

    The Airport has told us the footprints are approximations for illustrative purposes and actual areas may differ.

    Commercial air carriers are only scheduled between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m...but some flights occasionally arrive later due to exigent or other circumstances. In addition, private flights (including large chartered jets or business jets) could also be diverted onto runway 25R...including overnight between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when runway 25R is normally closed entirely.

    City management recommended the weekend main runway closures, citing cost and job quality considerations, and told Councilmembers before their vote (in writing and verbally) that the main runway closures would produce diversions onto Runway 25R/7L, impacting additional residential areas. Previous unplanned main runway closures and 25R/7L diversions, triggered by unscheduled events (including potholes, a stated reason for the repaving) have sparked alarm and anger in affected areas.

    Runway 25R/7L is nearly 3/4 of a mile shorter than the Airport's main 10,000 ft. runway and some Cal Hts. residents have said diverting large jets onto 25R shakes homes and skirts rooftops on takeoffs. Runway 25R ends not far from busy Cherry Ave. where homes begin to the west in the area of 36th St. To the east, the 25R approach sends large jets over miles of additional ELB homes, some stretching from near El Dorado Park. In reversed wind conditions, takeoffs and landings are reversed.

    LB Airport will be staffing phone lines on affected Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to field possible telephone calls...which have resulted from previous unscheduled Runway 25R diversions.

    In approving the repaving work in September 2003, Councilmembers asked city staff to conduct more vigorous community outreach forewarning residents of the coming diversions. The 56,000 piece mailing, and Airport-paid ads in some local print outlets, don't mention the Sept. 2003 Council vote but say the Airport's main runway is "undergoing a year-long the paving phase of the project must be performed during consecutive daylight and evening hours," adding "Long Beach Airport recognizes that significant concern regarding noise exists in the community. Residents under the flight path of 7L/25R should experience no more than 36 commercial flights during each of the weekend closures. There will be no cargo flights during these periods. Private aircraft activity will occur as usual on either 25R/7L or 25L/7R."

    In Sept. 2003, Airport Manager Chris Kunze said staff examined alternatives to daytime main runway closures, including performing all rehab work overnight (as OC's John Wayne Airport did)...but said this would lengthen construction time "by roughly 100%, so it'd be a two-year effort," adding it would also almost double the construction cost (most of which is paid by an FAA grant but some of which is paid by Airport revenue). "And also there's a real quality issue," Mr. Kunze said, indicating that the "FAA expressed major concerns by having the work done that way [all in overnight hours] for technical reasons which we can get into."

    Airport management indicated that to produce a good quality result, some repaving had to be done during extended periods that involved some daytime hours. Airport Manager Kunze told the Council:

    We also looked at just full runway 30 closure for 8 to 10 days. This was rejected because asphalt production is unable to guarantee the production rates necessary to support the completion of that runway. Also it would result in an increased number of air carrier landings and departures on runway 25R. By choosing Saturdays, that's the least busy day for airline operations and the all cargo flights do not operate on Saturdays. And also truck hauling traffic with this option would greatly impact locals.

    The option that we chose with the seven to eight closures, again, it reduces the construction by about a year, saves several million dollars in costs and the airlines were willing to modify their schedules to fly lighter aircraft, cancel some of their flights and the all cargos would not fly...and possibly in overnight hours for a period spanning roughly a year if -- despite Airport efforts -- unscheduled arrivals and departures occur between 11 p.m.-6 a.m. when main runway rehab work is scheduled

    A city staff memo also told the Council:

    Since the construction of the improvements to Runway 12-30 will require its closure, various construction phasing plans and methods were analyzed to determine the optimum construction phasing. Factors examined for each phasing plan included safety, cost, availability of materials, quality of the completed project, minimizing the disruption to normal operations, and weather. The plan determined to best address these factors is one that will combine night work with some select weekend work. While much of the work will be accomplished at night, with the runway being opened to traffic each morning, seven weekends (plus an eighth contingency weekend to be used only if weather or national emergency prohibits construction on one of the seven weekends) have been provided in the plans and specifications for construction on the runway. These weekends are in July, August and September of 2004. During these weekends, the runway will be closed from 11:00 p.m. Friday night through 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning. During these hours, air traffic that would normally land on Runway 12-30 will be diverted to Runways 7L-25R and 7R-25L...

    Much of the main runway rehab work now underway is being done overnight, closing the main runway from 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when scheduled commercial flights have ended. During these periods, some charter and business jets have been diverted onto 25R/7L.

    [updated text] has learned that the "newsletter" portion of LB Airport's mailing includes the following statement: "Runway Size: Runway 7L/25R is 6,192 feet in length and is 492 feet longer than John Wayne Airport’s airline runway (5,700’), which accommodates more than 130 airline flights per day. Runway 7L/25R is also longer than Burbank Airport’s instrument runway, which is 6,032 feet."

    As reported in October 2003, the use of LB runway 25R/7L differs from John Wayne Airport's main runway in significant respects. posts below U.S.G.S. photos (c. 1994) permitting comparison of the approach and take off paths of LB's 25R/7L and John Wayne Airport's main runway. The color dots are by us, unofficially illustrating some expected approach and takeoff paths.

    Because 25R/7L is usually used by small aircraft, it's a visual approach "circle to land" runway and doesn't have the instrument landing system (ILS) at John Wayne's or LB Airport's main runways. However 25R/7L does have a light guidance system (a Visual Approach Slope Indicator or VASI system) which can be seen pilots, helping them establish a stable three degree glide slope into the runway. (If the aircraft is too high, the pilot sees one color, too low another).

    The eastern (approach) end of LB Airport's runway 25R/7L is just over half a mile from homes which begin at Clark Ave.

    LB Airport 25R (east)
    On previous diversions onto 25R, we observed approaching large jet aircraft banking at various points over ELB and Los Altos to turn westward onto 25R. However, LB Airport indicates that efforts are being made to begin the approach over the 605 freeway and then head west. Both approaches take large jets over LB homes stretching for miles.

    LB Airport 25R (west)
    25R's western end is only roughly a quarter of a mile from homes which begin just west of Cherry Ave.

    In contrast to LB, John Wayne Airport's approach does not go over homes:

    SNA (north)
    Planes come over industrial parks and commercial industrial facilities. The nearest homes are miles away to the north and off to the side.

    SNA (south
    There are small pockets of apartments and homes to either side of John Wayne's takeoff path, but planes mainly ascend over a golf course and Newport's Back Bay. Some homes are on hillsides on the sides of the Back Bay. Densely populated areas begin further south and west, by which time aircraft are higher.

    The view below is twice as far away, showing that John Wayne's approach over non-residential industrial areas stretches for miles.

    SNA (north)
    The approach is basically over freeway and light industrial areas.

    SNA (south
    This view on the takeoff end is likewise twice as far away, showing residential areas south and west of John Wayne runway's end.

    The newsletter portion of LB Airport's advisory includes the following message from Airport Manager Chris Kunze:

    Dear Resident:

    As many of you know, in November 2003 Long Beach Airport began a year-long rehabilitation project of its main runway, known to us as “12/30.” We are at the halfway point in this repair and maintenance process and I wanted to take an opportunity through this newsletter to update everyone on the project status.

    Main Runway 12/30 was constructed in the 1950s and was last rehabilitated in 1978. During the past 25 years the asphalt on the Runway has weathered, become cracked and, in places, eroded. It was critical that we repair the Runway now as opposed to later when the damage became more severe. Waiting would have made the repair project more intensive, created greater impact on nearby residents and businesses, required a longer construction timeline and been more costly. Because of the deteriorating condition of 12/30, we had 31 emergency closures in 2003 forcing us to use our backup Runway “7L/25R” for commercial air carrier use without advance notice to you. However, once we have completed the repair and maintenance work on main 12/30 there will be minimal on-going commercial air carrier use of 7L/25R due to maintenance related closures of 12/30.

    We are very conscious of the fact that 7L/25R arrivals and departures are much closer to our neighbors than comparable operations on 12/30, and are very mindful of the annoyance and concern that air carrier use of this runway causes in the communities under the flight paths. Please be assured that the Airport’s noise monitoring system will be operative during these weekends, and that all air carrier noise for operations on 7L/25R will be added to their annual noise budget.

    Please take a moment to read the remainder of our "On the Runway" newsletter. The remainder of this newsletter provides information on what residents and businesses can expect and plan for as we move toward finishing this needed Runway rehabilitation project.

    We very much appreciate your patience and support.

    Chris Kunze
    Airport Bureau Manager

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