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L.A. Council To Make Final Decision on Jet Phaseout

With the Los Angeles World Airport Board having recommended phasing out older, noisier jets at Van Nuys Airport, attention now shifts to the Los Angeles City Council, which will make the final decision on getting rid of the aircraft. The LAWA board of commissioners unanimously recommended passage of the ordinance at its May 4 meeting. Prohibiting older jet (or Stage 2) aircraft is intended to reduce overall noise levels around the Valley airfield and create an incentive to retire the older aircraft or modify them with a hushkit. The ordinance sets noise limits at the airport for departing aircraft beginning with jets with a noise level of 85 decibels. By or after Jan. 1, 2016 no aircraft can operate at Van Nuys at more than 77 decibels. Most of the older aircraft based at the airport fall under the 80 decibel range to be reached in 2014. In the final environmental review of the ordinance, the airport agency expects that passage would result in some older aircraft being retired, others modified to reduce noise, and others being relocated to other general aviation airports, including Camarillo Airport and William J. Fox Airfield near Lancaster. Aircraft used for military activities or medical, police and fire emergencies would be exempt from the restrictions. Getting rid of the noisier jets has been before the airport commissioners and the city council since at least since 1990 but was never acted on. The airport board revisited the issue in 2006 and added amendments to the ordinance in 2007. The ordinance has drawn the support of homeowners groups in the neighborhoods around the airport who want less noise from the jet operations at Van Nuys. Councilman Tony Cardenas, whose district includes the airport, also backs the jet reduction. ?odern technology shows that you can fly quieter planes and alleviate major noise burdens,?Cardenas said in the statement. Opposing the proposal are the Valley Industry & Commerce Association and the National Business Aviation Association. Both organizations contend that LAWA? position that the phaseout is allowed under a grandfather provision of the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act is wrong. The law passed in 1990 requires extensive cost benefit studies when a general aviation airport wants to limit aircraft for noise reasons. Under the grandfather provision, no study would be needed for the Van Nuys phaseout. The NBAA stated its opposition in correspondence with LAWA and will do the same with the City Council members. ?e will make the same argument so they are fully informed of the federal issues that exist that constrain their ability to make a decision,?said Steve Brown, senior vice president of operations for the NBAA. VICA, however, looks to a higher authority than the council to prevent the phase-out from taking place. The association is waiting to hear back from the Federal Aviation Administration on a 1992 memo that VICA Aviation Committee Co-chairman Robert Rodine said shows that then-Mayor Tom Bradley requested the airport commissioners rescind all actions on a phaseout and that effectively kills any argument about grandfathering. ? have taken my best shot with the City Council,?Rodine said. ?f they are going to listen to LAWA that it has been grandfathered there is nothing I can do with that.? The commission? vote followed comments from the public and discussion among the members. Clay Lacy, who has operated private jet charter from Van Nuys longer than any tenant, called the proposal poorly thought out in a time of harsh economic conditions. Activity at the airport is down 40 percent and the corporate aviation industry has lost thousands of employees as aircraft manufacturers pull back on building new models, Lacy said. “The airport will lose money; LAWA will lose money from fuel sales,” Lacy said. Such dire predictions were dismissed by supporters of the ordinance one of whom contended older planes with hushkits to reduce noise would increase in value. A consultant hired by LAWA estimated that about two dozen jets would either be replaced or modified if the ordinance passes. “People who fly into Van Nuys want to do so and don’t want to go to another airport,” said Peter Stumpp, vice president of Simat, Helliesen & Eichner Inc., a consulting firm that provided backup data for the ordinance. “They will make the investment to continue to fly here.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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