At an invitation-only briefing on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration told representatives of federal, state and local agencies, as well as those representing local airports and airlines, that flights departing from Hollywood Burbank Airport have shifted south over Studio City, but the agency could not identify the cause.
In an executive summary handed to officials who attended the meeting in El Segundo that afternoon, FAA officials stated that air-traffic controllers have been handling flights departing from the Burbank airport the same way as before the Southern California Metroplex of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, was implemented in March 2017.
Many residents from Studio City and the south San Fernando Valley have claimed that the FAA’s NextGen — a satellite-based navigation system used to improve time, fuel efficiency and safety — has concentrated more flights over their homes and disrupted their quality of life because of more aircraft noise.
Before the implementation of NextGen in the region, commercial aircraft departing from Hollywood Burbank would make their northbound turns closer over the 101 Freeway.
Although the federal agency identified that flights taking off from Burbank began making their northbound turns over Studio City and Sherman Oaks around the same time NextGen was implemented in Southern California, officials stated in the summary that departure procedures have not changed and that the NextGen waypoints used to navigate planes to their destinations are located north of the airport.
The FAA claims that warmer air temperatures, heavier aircraft, the types of planes used and air traffic in the region may have caused departing flights to turn northbound above Studio City rather than over the 101 Freeway.
Similar findings were found in a report compiled by consultant Landrum & Brown in October 2018, which also determined that departing flight paths have shifted south because of NextGen, but the company could not find that the system was to blame for the lower-flying planes over Studio City.
To try and mitigate the noise, Hollywood Burbank officials are in the middle of organizing a task force. Its goal is to identify solutions to the noise issues.
“The informational briefing that was held by the FAA for the offices of elected officials is a positive step as we continue our efforts with Los Angeles World Airports to establish a joint task force to address the noise concerns of the surrounding communities of Hollywood Burbank and Van Nuys airports,” wrote Frank Miller, executive director of Hollywood Burbank Airport, in an email on Thursday.
“Many of the attendees at the FAA briefing will also sit on the joint task force,” he added.
While seeing FAA officials admit that the departing flight paths have shifted, Studio City resident Suellen Wagner, a co-founder of the grassroots group called Studio City for Quiet Skies, said the federal agency needs to be more transparent about flight data.
“[The FAA] knew that the flight path was going to change, and they told the Burbank airport staff that it would happen,” she said. “We don’t believe that they don’t know what’s happening.”
Wagner added that she and her neighbors don’t want to wait for the task force to be formed and then wait for months of deliberation on the issue.
“We want a pre-NextGen path,” she said.