Commercial pilots flying out of John Wayne Airport may transition to a quieter takeoff path late next month.
Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff told the City Council on Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration will begin using the path, which precisely hugs the curves of Newport Bay to avoid as many residential areas as possible, on March 29, assuming the FAA's budget is approved.
The curved departure is a key feature of a settlement the FAA and Newport Beach reached last month in the city's lawsuit over John Wayne Airport departure paths. The suit came after the federal agency changed the departure paths last spring, with planes turning left — and closer to homes — just as they lift off, not staying over the bay as they did before.
In other airport updates, Kiff said the city has retained two firms to provide "advocacy and assistance" on the city's key goals. Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney will work with the FAA and Congress, and Dynamic Strategy will work with local residents groups "to emphasize those key goals to the carriers and kind of build a community message that would also allow our community members to have a forum and a stronger voice collectively," Kiff said.
The city is likely to spend about $700,000 to $800,000 this year to address airport concerns, Kiff said.
The goals include use of the quietest takeoff procedures when possible and the rapid incorporation of more technologically advanced planes such as the Boeing 737-MAX.
Kiff shared noise data from a recent Southwest Airlines flight out of John Wayne that used the quieter, more fuel-efficient 737-MAX. The Dec. 24 flight registered six to seven decibels lower than typical jets when it flew over noise monitors near the Back Bay near Eastbluff Elementary School and on Santiago Drive near the bay's west side. The human ear can distinguish changes at about three decibels, Kiff said.
The plane's noise didn't register at all at the next noise monitor between Newport Dunes and Back Bay View Park, which Kiff said was a good, if not conclusive, sign.
He said airlines are a few years from full adoption of the newer planes.