Noise-abatement studies begin at LAX and VNY

 - October 10, 2006, 7:57 AM

The Los Angeles World Airport Authority (LAWA) recently awarded a $6.5 million, three- to five-year contract to Harris Miller Miller and Hanson (HMMH) of Burlington, Mass., to conduct simultaneous FAR Part 161 (noise-control) studies at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Van Nuys Airport (VNY).

The LAX study involves a plan to eliminate eastbound departures between midnight and 6:30 a.m., but the VNY program is far more complex. It involves seven separate “severable” studies, each covering a different proposed noise control measure. LAWA has configured the study this way so that FAA rejection of any one of the measures would not compromise approval of the other six.

An outright ban on Stage 2 aircraft has not been listed as one of the implicit goals of the study, but the recent court decision regarding the Naples (Fla.) Airport Authority could affect LAWA’s vision for Van Nuys. City officials have already made it clear they are taking a close look at the Naples case.

The seven measures were identified during a 2001 Part 150 study. Part 150 is the FAR segment that regulates voluntary airport plans for eliminating incompatible land uses within an airport’s 65-dB noise contour. Such incompatible uses include residences, public and private schools, hospitals, convalescent homes and houses of worship. Part 150 permits federal funding for residential sound insulation and land acquisition.

When each of the seven measures was proposed during the Part 150 study, the FAA instructed the airport authority that Part 161 studies would be required to implement the restrictions. LAWA issued its NPRM in February 2003 and approved the contract award to HMMH in March this year.

Under the scope of the contract, the consulting firm will manage and coordinate the project; coordinate intergovernmental and interagency liaison; establish planning goals and objectives; develop the final work plan; identify outside sources of funding, if available; develop the text of proposed restrictions; prepare and implement a public outreach program; perform the required analyses of the proposed restrictions; prepare and deliver the final draft and final Part 161 applications, reports and documents to the FAA; follow up on FAA submissions; and prepare environmental impact documentation in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Van Nuys portion of the overall Part 161 contract will cost an estimated $3.6 million compared with $2.9 million for the simpler LAX study. According to a LAWA Board of Airport Commissioners report dated March 21, “ANCA [the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990] preempted the ability of airport proprietors to implement any local noise restrictions without the approval of the FAA. The FAA has enacted regulations that specify the process, required reports and analyses that must be performed by LAWA to prove to the FAA that the proposed restrictions on Stage 3 aircraft at LAX and VNY comply with the following statutory conditions of ANCA:

•     The proposed restriction(s) are reasonable, nonarbitrary and nondiscriminatory.

•     The proposed restriction(s) would not create an undue burden on interstate or foreign commerce.

•     The proposed restriction(s) would maintain safe and efficient use of navigable airspace.

•     The proposed restriction(s) would not conflict with any existing federal statute or regulation.

•     LAWA has provided adequate opportunity for public comment on the proposed restriction(s).

•     The proposed restriction(s) does/do not create an undue burden on the national airspace system.