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California

L.A. city attorney sues FAA over airplane noise at Hollywood Burbank Airport

Hollywood Burbank Airport
Noise from planes taking off at Hollywood Burbank Airport has led the city of Los Angeles to file a lawsuit against the FAA.
(Anthony Clark Carpio / Burbank Leader)

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday in an attempt to seek relief for residents in the south San Fernando Valley who say they have been bombarded by airplane noise for the last two years.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles alleges that the FAA has not followed the departure procedures the agency published in 2017 and instead has allowed airplanes departing from Hollywood Burbank Airport to fly over areas where they have historically not flown, predominantly over some communities in the southern part of the valley.

“We’re fighting to get relief for tens of thousands of residents and businesses who have borne the brunt of increased noise and other impacts from these flights, and we’re urging the court to take a couple of different steps,” Feuer said Thursday at a news conference announcing the suit.

The lawsuit seeks to have the FAA redirect flights to the paths that were used before the implementation of the Southern California Metroplex of its Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen.

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On Oct. 18, the city attorney’s office gave the FAA 30 days to comply with departing flight procedures out of Hollywood Burbank Airport that were in place in 2017, before NextGen was implemented.

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Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer, center, announces on Thursday that his office is suing the FAA over noise issues at Hollywood Burbank Airport.
(Anthony Clark Carpio / Burbank Leader)

On Nov. 19, Feuer’s office received a letter from the FAA stating that flight paths could be affected by variables such as weather, traffic volume and aircraft capabilities.

“They did not grant our request at all,” Feuer said. “The FAA didn’t deny that flights were persistently intruding into new airspace, but instead the FAA tried to disclaim responsibility altogether.”

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Along with the lawsuit, Feuer’s office filed several Freedom of Information Act requests on Thursday asking the FAA to hand over the departure procedures for Hollywood Burbank.

NextGen is a satellite-based navigation system that aims to make airline travel throughout the country safer and more efficient. Its satellite-based navigation procedures have been rolling out across the country for almost two decades.

However, the new system has proved to be more troublesome than helpful for some communities.

NextGen moved flight paths over neighborhoods and communities in California and other states that did not have to deal with aircraft overhead previously.

Communities in Phoenix and Seattle, to name a few, have sued and won their cases against the FAA over the noise issues reportedly stemming from the new radar system.

Residents in the south San Fernando Valley have lived with airplane noise, mostly from departing flights out of Hollywood Burbank, since March 2017, when the FAA implemented the Southern California Metroplex of NextGen in the region.

Before the new radar system, flights out of Burbank would depart to the south and make northbound turns near the 101 Freeway.

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After NextGen was implemented, airplanes began drifting farther south and started making their northbound turns over Studio City and Sherman Oaks.

Reports compiled by several consultants as well as the FAA have confirmed that departing flights out of Hollywood Burbank and Van Nuys airports have shifted farther south over the past two years.

After many residents in those communities complained about increased aircraft noise, a task force was formed to find a solution to the issue.

The task force, made up of local officials and federal representatives, has met four times in the past five months to hear from community groups and aviation experts about how to resolve residents’ concerns.

FAA officials have said that departure procedures out of Hollywood Burbank have not changed.

During a meeting Dec. 4, task force members complained that FAA officials, had failed to respond to any of the questions and concerns brought up by the task force and the community.

Brent Robinson, director for U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ Los Angeles headquarters, told FAA officials at the meeting that thousands of residents have complained about the noise issues, but the FAA continues to be unresponsive despite several requests made by the senator.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who is vice chair of the task force and a Studio City resident, attended Thursday’s news conference.

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Krekorian said there was a “sudden and dramatic” change when NextGen was implemented in the region.

He said that, although he wants the FAA to switch the flight paths back to the routes they flew prior to NextGen, he said the lawsuit’s goal is to spread the noise over the San Fernando Valley and not have it concentrated over a handful of neighborhoods.

“It would not be acceptable to me to simply move the same intensified noise to another neighborhood,” he said. “It’s not just that [the flight paths] have moved south, it’s that they were much wider before and every neighborhood shares in some of the burden and no neighborhood is unduly compromised.”

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said he could not comment on the lawsuit, but added that the FAA is committed to working with the task force to find a solution.

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