Noise impact area of Bob Hope Airport due to shrink, traffic to remain flat

The clock is ticking for residents living around Bob Hope Airport to tap a federally funded program to soundproof their houses before a shrinking noise-impact area renders them ineligible, officials warned this week.

With fewer flights coming in and out of the airfield, and quieter aircraft taking to the skies, the noise-impact area is expected to shrink significantly at the north and south ends of the runway, meaning homeowners who currently qualify for grant funded soundproofing may soon find themselves outside the boundaries for the program.

Dan Feger, the airport's executive director, said homeowners who qualify should act quickly.

“It absolutely screams that the people who have the opportunity right now should take advantage of it because in all likelihood funding for that will go away,” said the airport's executive director, Dan Feger, at a meeting of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday.

A draft of the so-called noise-impact forecast now goes to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has six months to review it.

Since the launch of the soundproofing program, 2,356 single- and multi-family dwellings have undergone improvements, and the owners of 357 residential units have expressed interest, airport officials said last month.

Those homes have gotten soundproofing improvements, such as double-paned windows, new doors and insulation.

But the owners of 1,926 eligible dwellings have either not participated or expressed interest, despite mailings and personal visits, officials said.

David Fitz with Coffman Associates, which conducted the forecast, said the impact area to the west — where incoming planes approach — is expected to expand slightly. That's because aircraft with quieter engines may have resulted in less noise on takeoff, but not necessarily during landings.

“Mass going through space still generates a fair amount of noise,” Fitz told the airport authority.

Several additional multi-family buildings will now be in the noise-impact area to the west, upping the number of units affected from 668 to 969 in the latest study.

However, the FAA discontinued covering multi-family structures about two years ago.

“We spent much time arguing with the FAA,” Feger said, adding that Bob Hope officials will ask that multi-family buildings be covered again under the soundproofing program.

Meanwhile, the shrinking boundaries of the noise-impact area don't bode well for Bob Hope Airport in other ways because it takes into account little to no rebound from falling passenger figures, which have hurt revenues.

“The forecast is very flat for this airport,” Fitz said.

Currently, the airfield logs about 123,000 operations annually, which include flights by commercial planes, cargo aircraft, private planes and helicopters.

By 2017, the study projects that number will rise to just 141,000 total flights. Fitz said that when the last noise-impact study was done in 1998, there were 184,500 total flights a year at Bob Hope Airport.

“So there's a big, big drop-off in the number of operations,” he said.


Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam.

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