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L.A. city attorney demanding FAA comply with departure procedures at Hollywood Burbank Airport

Hollywood Burbank Airport
A commercial plane takes off from the Hollywood Burbank Airport on Oct. 9. Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday demanding that it adhere to departure procedures out of the local airport that the federal agency published in 2017.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office is giving the Federal Aviation Administration 30 days to comply with departure procedures used at Hollywood Burbank Airport that the federal agency published in 2017 before equipment called the Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen, was implemented.

On Friday afternoon, Feuer sent a letter to Raquel Girvin, the Western-Pacific regional administrator of the FAA, demanding the agency issue a “tower order, standard-operation procedure or other formal action” instructing air traffic controllers to direct flights leaving the Burbank airport as they did before NextGen was implemented in the region two years ago in order to address the noise issues affecting some residents in the southern San Fernando Valley.

NextGen is the FAA’s satellite-based navigation system that aims to make flights throughout the country safer and more time and fuel efficient.

However, for the past two years, some residents from Studio City, Sherman Oaks and other communities in the southern San Fernando Valley have raised concerns and said they have been significantly impacted by the frequency of flights departing from Hollywood Burbank and the noise associated with planes flying overhead.

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When NextGen, which was also called the Southern California Metroplex, was implemented in Southern California in March 2017, several residents from those Los Angeles neighborhoods said they started noticing more flights making their northbound turns over their homes.

A report conducted by consultant Landrum & Brown in October 2018 and the FAA this past July confirmed that departing flight paths from Hollywood Burbank have indeed shifted south from above the 101 Freeway to over Studio City and Sherman Oaks.

Feuer stated in his letter that the southern shift of flight paths does not comply with the departure procedures published by the FAA in 2017, especially those are used at Hollywood Burbank.

He added that the differing flight paths did not undergo any environmental analysis or public review and should be halted immediately.

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“FAA’s concession that departure flight tracks are deviating from pre-Metroplex flight tracks is precisely what elected officials and residents from affected communities have been telling FAA for many months — that real-world experience shows that aircraft departing [Hollywood] Burbank Airport are deviating from the flight tracks that were existing when FAA implemented the 2017 departure procedures,” Feuer wrote.

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, issued a statement on Friday reiterating points in previous comments that air-traffic controllers have not changed how departing flights are handled at Hollywood Burbank.

He added that NextGen is not a factor in the departure procedures until the airplanes are 11 nautical miles north or 17 nautical miles northwest of the airport, depending on where the flights are headed.

Feuer’s letter also addressed ongoing meetings of the Southern San Fernando Valley Airplane Noise Task Force, a group comprised of several city and federal officials whose goal is to develop a recommended solution to tackle the noise issues.

He wrote that, although the task force may have a solution to the problem — which could be presented to the FAA early next year — Feuer wants the agency to put the flight paths back where they were before 2017 immediately.

A community group called UproarLA applauded Feuer’s actions.

“UproarLA is incredibly grateful to Mr. Feuer for his dedication to this issue and his tenacity in seeking justice for the tens of thousands of impacted children, families and residents,” UproarLA member Lisa Carloss wrote in a statement Friday.

“While the FAA has done nothing but offer delay tactics, our community has suffered far too long under this illegal and new flight path,” she added.

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