Burbank still fighting for airport curfew

BURBANK — After airport officials invested about $7 million to achieve a nighttime noise curfew at Bob Hope Airport, city leaders are gearing up for one last push.

A team of Burbank officials will join Mayor Gary Bric and Councilman Dave Golonski on a trip next week to the nation's capital before the Federal Aviation Administration renders a decision by Nov. 1.

The group plans to meet with lawmakers, particularly those who oversee transportation and aviation committees, to discuss options to deliver meaningful nighttime noise relief.

The Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority commissioned the Part 161 Study — a roughly 800-page document required to restrict all departures and landings at Bob Hope Airport between 10 p.m. and 6:59 a.m. — after decades of noise and air pollution complaints from neighbors. FAA officials said it was the first study of its kind to make it through the review process.

“We've done everything we can through the process, taken every step required,” Golonski said. “This has really been a joint effort with the airport authority and the other cities to see this thing through.”

Burbank officials this summer secured support from mayors in Pasadena and Glendale to pursue congressional action for curfews into and out of Bob Hope and Van Nuys airports.

City councils in Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena during the airport authority's public comment period last year all passed resolutions supporting the mandatory curfew.

Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero, an airport commissioner, last month referred to the nine-year approval process as “painstaking, but essential to delivering noise relief to folks in the area who lived with it for years — and have been patient.”

And Rep. Brad Sherman wrote to the FAA this summer imploring the agency to approve the application and begin a dialogue with the authority and Los Angeles to address the long-term impact of nighttime noise in the San Fernando Valley.

If it were approved, the curbed nighttime flight schedule would result in a $48-million revenue loss for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority during a 10-year period, according to the study. But the curfew would also save the airport an estimated $67 million over 10 years through reduced needs for residential-acoustical treatment.

Reps. Adam Schiff and Howard Berman said in a joint statement that the proposal would affect only a small number of diverted flights — mostly cargo and general aviation — and called on the FAA to consider issuing a tentative decision before Nov. 1 followed by a public comment period to enable the parties to reach a consensus.

Schiff said there should be a way of making the process less costly and less time consuming.

“It's clearly designed to be difficult. It wasn't Congress' intention to make it impossible,” he said. “I hope [the FAA] does the right thing, and I want to make sure that they have followed the criteria.”

Bob Hope Airport was one of the first airports in the country to ban noisy airplanes from its grounds, about four years before the FAA established regulation Part 161 in 1991, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

The regulation requires those airports seeking to impose new operation regulations to complete the lengthy report and gain approval from the FAA.

Along with cost-benefit analysis, meaning the airports could not lose money by shifting operations, the curfew cannot unduly burden interstate or foreign commerce, cannot conflict with federal law and must be safe.

The International Air Cargo Assn., Cargo Airline Assn., National Air Transportation Assn. and Air Transport Assn. of America have all formally opposed the proposed curfew at Bob Hope Airport.

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