BAe-146 Tests Produce More Low Readings

Times Staff Writer

PSA's new British Aerospace jet, the BAe-146, continued to record noise levels below Orange County regulatory minimums at John Wayne Airport on Saturday, according to Bill Martin, the county's senior noise control officer.

"We're extremely pleased," said Margery Craig, PSA director of public relations, who was at the airport for the three test flights Saturday. "We were confident all the way along that the plane would meet the standards. We put this plane through some stringent tests."

Carrying what airline officials call a "maximum gross take-off weight" of 89,500 pounds--including enough fuel to carry 100 passengers and their baggage to Kansas City--the BAe-146 recorded noise levels of 88.0, 88.7 and 87.4 decibels. Under regulations tentatively adopted by the county Jan. 30, PSA jets had to record levels of less than 89.5 decibels to trade in regular departures of existing jets for quieter flights on a 2-for-1 basis.

Most PSA flights from John Wayne go to San Francisco--a shorter trip that requires less fuel, for which the BAe-146 would take off at a weight of 80,000 pounds. Carrying 80,000 pounds on Thursday, the BAe-146 recorded noise levels of 82.5, 83.8 and 84.9 decibels. According to existing county guidelines, jets that record noise levels of less than 86 decibels are exempt from flight limitations.

"I can assure you that starting Monday we're not going to come in with unlimited flights" to the Bay Area, said Craig, acknowledging that "theoretically, under existing regulations," more flights would be permitted.

More Routes May Be Added

In 1985 and 1986, Craig said, PSA might "consider additional markets," including Seattle, in BAe-146 flights from John Wayne.

On Thursday, carrying 82,500 pounds, enough to make the Seattle flight, the jet recorded levels of 85.3, 86.6 and 87.3 decibels.

The test flights Saturday brought mixed responses from Newport Beach area residents.

Samuel Lane, a Costa Mesa acoustical consultant, said he recorded a 78-decibel reading near the Upper Newport Bay area using a Bruel & Kjar precision sound level meter.

"People would have to be deaf not to hear the aircraft," said Lane, pointing out that his reading, 30 decibels above the normal level in the area, is usually classified as "intrusive to the community."

Martin said that the Noise Abatement Office received a number of telephone calls after Saturday's tests from the Newport Beach area, most of them "quite favorable."

One of the calls, the noise control officer said, was from "one of our unofficial bird watchers" who lives farther down the bay. "He was very favorably impressed," Martin said.

No further tests for the jet are planned for the time being, Martin said.

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