Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration Thursday over what he called excessive noise from aircraft departing the Hollywood Burbank Airport.
The city is demanding that the FAA conduct an environmental analysis and receive public input regarding its Southern California Metroplex flight plan that the city claims has subjected residents in the Southeast San Fernando Valley to aircraft noise.
“We have tens of thousands of residents who have been suffering an undue burden that they never anticipated from noise and other impacts from flights departing from this airport,” Feuer said. “And that impact has intensified greatly in recent years. I know that the FAA has acknowledged that change. I know the FAA didn’t study that change before it was put in place.”
The petition, filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, also requests an order that the FAA release documents requested by the City Attorney’s Office related to data collected by the agency and any information on actions it has taken to change flight paths.
Feuer said the FAA has not adequately justified its reasons for why it hasn’t fulfilled those records requests, which were submitted in 2018.
The city is trying to return the flight patterns to what they were prior to the implementation of the Metroplex. Feuer said such a move would divert flights across the area and reduce the intensity of noise in certain residential neighborhoods.
Feuer said his office has received hundreds of thousands of noise complaints since the change.
Three years ago, as part of FAA’s implementation of the Southern California Metroplex, flight patterns were changed in the region in an effort to reduce airlines’ consumption of jet fuel for flight efficiency.
The change included a shift in patterns over West Adams and other communities in mid-City and central Los Angeles, causing significant noise and other environmental effects, according to a city statement.
City Councilman Paul Krekorian said the FAA has narrowed the width of its flight patterns, cause worsening noise effects for people within the path.
“We’ve experienced this shift in noise personally,” Krekorian said. “But they (the FAA) continue to deny any responsibility for it. They continue to deny any knowledge of how that could have happened.”
Councilman Paul Koretz said the flight path changes have been “very dramatic.”
Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, told City News Service the agency does not comment on pending litigation, but he disputed some of the city’s allegations.
“As we have previously explained, we have not changed how we handle Burbank departures in the immediate airport environment,” Gregor said. “Aircraft today — as they have in the past — turn to a compass heading shortly after takeoff and continue to fly that heading until air traffic controllers instruct pilots to begin their turns to the west and north.”
Gregor said the FAA disputes claims that the departure flight patterns have been “narrowed.”
“The changes that we made in March 2017 take effect 11 nautical miles north, and 17 nautical miles northwest, of the airport,” he said.
A city Noise Task Force for the Hollywood Burbank Airport has been meeting with the FAA over the past year, but the councilmen and city attorney said they have been disappointed with the FAA’s presentations at those meeting, saying little progress has been made.
Gregor said the FAA is committed to continuing to support the task force as it “works to develop consensus recommendations to address community concerns.”
Gregor noted that the task force’s bylaws state that it must make recommendations for review by the FAA and aircraft operators as to how to implement flight patterns at the Hollywood Burbank and Van Nuys airports. So far, the task force has not submitted any recommendations, he said.
The City Council on Wednesday dedicated $200,000 toward potential legal costs over the flight pattern issue.
In June, Los Angeles sued the FAA for persistently failing to address the negative impacts of “overflights of aircraft headed to LAX.” That action also challenged the Metroplex flight patterns.
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