By Dan Jamieson
The HB City Council at its May 1, 2019 meeting took the first concrete step in addressing jet noise by approving a $48,000 contract with Irvine-based aviation consultants Landrum & Brown to come up with a plan that could reduce the noise now impacting Huntington Beach.
The action follows a series of meetings and public outreach efforts City officials have taken to hear from residents and begin a long process of working with Long Beach airport to change air traffic patterns.
Those approach patterns changed several years ago when the Federal Aviation Administration allowed pilots to fly as low as 1,600 feet across the City, creating what David Porter, commissioner of the City’s Jet Noise Commission called an “aerial superhighway” over Northwest HB.
The path most planes now use is is to drop to 1600 feet and maintain that across the City as they approach Long Beach, which requires more engine thrust to maintain altitude, said councilmember Patrick Brenden during the meeting. A flat visual approach is apparently easier for the pilots, compared to a higher approach with a three-percent graded drop, added councilmember Barbara Delgleize.
Landrum & Brown will analyze flight patterns over the City with the goal of recommending a three-percent glide path, which would keep planes at 2,200 feet or higher and allow them to throttle back, reducing noise. “The FAA and the airport are receptive,” Brenden said, and the airport is helping make the case with JetBlue and Southwest.
Christian Valdes of Landrum & Brown said changes to flight patterns have to be sponsored by airports.
If HB is successful in getting flight patterns changed, it might be the first city or county to do so. Brenden said that most cities and communities have tried suing the FAA over noisy flight paths, and all have failed as courts give deference to the FAA. By collaborating and paying for a serious plan, the City has a chance, officials said.
“It’s a remarkable potential win” for HB, said Dave Kiff, acting city manager. Kiff, formerly with Newport Beach, said Newport spent $400,000 to $600,000 a year fighting John Wayne airport over noise, all to no avail.
“It probably took awhile for the [Long Beach] airport to trust us, to know we were really serious about finding a solution,” Delgleize said.
(See the Daily Pilot story here.)