2nd FAA Demand Rejected : Burbank Airport Panel OKs New Boarding Area

Times Staff Writer

A committee of the Burbank Airport authority decided Tuesday that the airport should comply with a demand by the Federal Aviation Administration that it convert two large parking lots into a boarding area, an airport official said.

The panel will recommend, however, that the authority reject the FAA’s demand that it convert another 800 parking spaces into a taxiway, said Tom Greer, director of airport services.

The recommendations will be made to the full Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday, when it again considers how to respond to growing FAA pressure for safety-related changes at the airport. The FAA has given airport officials until April 18 to accept its demands or come up with alternatives.

Modern federal regulations require structures to be at least 750 feet from runways, but the airport terminal, built 56 years ago, is as close as 313 feet at some points.


Plan Collapses

The crisis arose after five years of planning to build a new terminal on Lockheed Corp. property on the east side of the airport collapsed in December. The federal government ruled that the site was too close to the “Skunk Works,” where Lockheed works on secret military projects.

Two other sites are under consideration. However, in a move that stunned airport officials, the FAA in February ordered an immediate ban on all eastward takeoffs and asked the airport to give up about 1,400 parking spaces on the north and south sides of the east-west runway. Both steps were intended to increase the distance between jetliners taking off and parked planes where passengers board or exit.

The ban on eastward takeoffs is already in effect, but airport officials balked at removing the parking spaces because a large part of the airport’s income comes from parking fees.


2 Lots Involved

If the whole authority approves the recommendation, the airport would remove about 480 parking spaces in the two lots immediately south of the runway and east of the terminal, Greer said.

That space would then be used for passenger boarding, which now occurs between the parking lot and the runway.

However, the committee members decided that the FAA’s request to move taxiing planes onto space now taken by another parking lot is not “a safety-related issue,” Greer said. “It’s more of an air-traffic control issue.” Greer said it was not known whether the FAA will accept that position.


Greer said he did not know how the airport could adjust to loss of the parking fees and said loss of the spaces would increase parking problems. The authority is studying whether it can replace the lost parking spaces, he said.