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    LB Airport Releases Annual Noise Budget, Announces No Add'l Flight Slots for 2004

    (October 14, 2003) -- Following a year of empirical noise data monitoring and collection, LB City Hall has announced that under LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, commercial air carriers as a class (aircraft over 75,000 pounds) exceeded the Ordinance's noise budget and accordingly no additional flights (beyond 41 slots for aircraft over 75,000 pounds) will be allocated in 2004.

    The announcement was made at the Oct. 14, 2003 City Council meeting by Airport Manager Chris Kunze and consultant Vince Mestre, principal engineer with Mestre Greve Associates, an accoustal engineering consulting firm. Mr. Mestre has over a quarter century of experience in acoustical analysis.

    LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, approved by a federal court and considered among the most progressive in the country, provides an incentive for airport users to fly quieter aircraft by leaving open the possibility that more flights could be added next year if large aircraft as a class remain within their noise budget in 2004 (by, among other things, avoiding late night flight penalties).

    LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance mandates a minimum of 41 daily flights (aircraft over 75,000 pounds) but does not permit more than 41 if the carriers exceed their noise budget during the prior 12 month period. Mr. Mestre indicated that actual monitored noise produced by large commercial aircraft (over 75,000 pounds) as a class for the period Oct. 1, 2002 to Sept. 30, 2003 exceeded the ordinance's noise budget.

    LB Airport commercial flights increased dramatically -- from 14 to 40 per day (with 41 soon) -- following the Council's May 2001 vote (8-1, Carroll dissenting seeking two week delay) changing LB's flight slot allocation procedures (not flight slot numbers) to let carriers hold flight slots longer before flying them. The Council vote was not required by any court or FAA requirement

    Shortly after the Council action, JetBlue Airways (which was not mentioned during the public Council discussion) took all then-vacant LB flight slots for aircraft over 75,000 pounds, filling all of LB's commercial flight slots.

    The Council action triggered a dispute with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines which City Hall resolved by reaching an agreement with those carriers. City Hall sought FAA approval for the agreement...and got it. In a letter to LB Airport, the FAA referred to the Council action as "questionable" under the FAA's interpretation of federal requirements, but OK'd the agreement as avoiding litigation and mooting the issue raised by the Airlines.

    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.

    [ has editorially criticized the FAA verbiage above as unjustified. Editorial: FAA v. LB]

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