Airport Panel OKs Noise Reduction Plan

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has approved a plan to phase out noisy private jets at Van Nuys Airport over the next 11 years.

The action, which remains subject to approval by the City Council, would exempt from the rule about 50 so-called Stage 2 jets--primarily those built before 1985. But by 2010, all other jets operating at the airport would have to meet more stringent Stage 3 rules.

The council is expected to consider the issue late next month.

The board approved the rule at a meeting Wednesday night in Van Nuys.

Councilman Mike Feuer complained that under the rule, operators will have little incentive to replace exempted Stage 2 jets.

"I'm very disappointed the commission didn't take steps available to provide real certainty to everyone and real relief to neighbors," Feuer said. "What the commission did is sort of backward."

"They allowed those there to stay forever and those are the noisiest ones," said Gerald A. Silver, president of Stop the Noise coalition. "There is no incentive to replace them."

John W. Olcott, president of the National Business Aviation Assn., also complained about the proposal, saying noise rules should be set by the federal government and not local airports.

"We will aggressively oppose the decision for the group and do what is necessary to protect the operators at Van Nuys," Olcott said. "We feel this is a more of an anti-airport issue than a noise issue."

John J. Driscoll, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of World Airports, said the proposal is a good compromise and that the number of Stage 2 jets will decrease by attrition over time.

"Two or three planes leave every year anyway," he said. "The communities now have a cap, and if you don't put a cap on it it's just going to get worse. Yet we are not destroying the largest employer in the Valley and an important economic engine."

Driscoll said it was important to not hurt the airport operators who have signed long-term leases to provide services or to provoke a law suit. Van Nuys Airport is the nation's busiest general aviation airport.

"It's not immediate relief. If we did that, the FAA or the courts would not support our position. We have to try to balance the risk on this issue," Driscoll said. "It still gives the industry an opportunity to figure what it wants to do."

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