Officials bring the noise to Congress

After years of painstaking studies, millions of dollars and one failed federal application for nighttime flight restrictions, Bob Hope Airport officials are turning to Congress.

Last month, the three congressmen whose districts are most affected by curfews signed a letter seeking legislation to bar flights from arriving or departing between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. at Bob Hope and Van Nuys airports.

The effort comes one year after the Federal Aviation Administration rejected the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority's request to impose a ban in what has become a decades-long effort to dampen noise at the airport.

Commercial airlines have agreed to a voluntary curfew at Bob Hope Airport, but freight carriers and others oppose a curfew they say would hurt business.

Last month, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) wrote to the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, seeking to insert language in the next FAA authorization bill allowing for a curfew at the two airports.

Burbank City Manager Mike Flad, who worked with the congressmen and Los Angeles officials in seeking the legislative language, said stakeholders were left with few options after decades of trying to impose a mandatory flight curfew.

"This isn't something that has just started. The airport, the city and residents have been trying to get a curfew since the early '70s," he said. "There is an opportunity because [the FAA] authorization is up, and because we've exhausted other potential remedies."

Cargo operators remain opposed to the curfew.

Steve Alterman of the Cargo Airline Assn., a trade group representing UPS, FedEx and other carriers, said both those companies fly into Bob Hope Airport four times a week at times that would fall under the curfew.

"If we can't operate those flights, it makes it difficult for us to serve people in and around the Burbank area," Alterman said. "If we don't fly into Burbank and we have to fly somewhere else, we'll have to get there earlier and put that freight on trucks, putting more trucks on the roads and creating more noise and more emissions."

Jim Berard, a spokesman for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said the request for the curfew legislation comes late in the consideration of the FAA reauthorization bill.

Lawmakers hope to pass a bill by Sept. 30, and it may not address all legislative concerns regulating airports, he added.

But Flad said that if the FAA bill is not the right vehicle, local officials would try to get separate legislation passed.

"The fact of the matter is, the operation is impacting our residents, and we're trying to help them get a peaceful night's sleep," he said.

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