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70 Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations Small/Non-Hub Airport with Passenger Service--Long Beach Airport (LGB) http://www.longbeach.gov/airport/noiseabatement/default.asp Accessed 7/22/2008. (123) Long Beach Airport (LGB) in southern California was selected as a case study because it is a small-hub commercial passenger airport with a large general aviation component that expe- rienced a sudden upsurge of passenger flights by scheduled air carriers. Because the airport is completely surrounded by dense development, the community reacted strongly to the intro- duction of new flights and the airport has developed a communications program for the pub- lic and a negotiation process with the airline to respond to the concerns. As a case study it illustrates a combination of solutions for addressing the public, the airlines, and the airline user group. Long Beach Airport was built in 1923 and expanded in the late 1920s when the city built hangars and administrative facilities for the Army and Navy. It was enlarged to 500 acres in 1941. It is now completely surrounded by dense development of largely industrial and golf course uses, but dense residential development lies within 1,500 feet of the runway in some directions. The airport serves nearly 3 million commercial airline passengers annually, with flights to destinations throughout the United States. It also is among the top five busiest general aviation airports in the world, with approximately 371,000 annual general aviation operations in 2007, including Life Flight organ donor and critical care patient delivery flights, law enforcement, and search/rescue flights. It also is a center for air cargo carriers DHL, Federal Express, and UPS, which transport more than 49,000 tons of goods each year. It is one of the few airports that continues to be an important aircraft manufacturing and flight- training center, hosting the Boeing Company, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, and Flight Safety as tenants. Brief History of Noise Abatement The City of Long Beach began efforts to manage aircraft-related noise through adoption of a noise ordinance more than 20 years ago. These efforts to control airport noise were challenged in the courts for over 12 years by the airlines and other user groups. Ultimately, an Airline Settle- ment Agreement struck a balance between air commerce needs and community noise exposure concerns. The resulting Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance (LBMC 16.43) was passed in 1995, making Long Beach one of the strictest noise-controlled airports in the United States. In the meantime, Congress had passed the Airport Noise and Capacity Act in 1990 giving authority over airport access and noise control actions to the federal government and FAA. However, the City was able to work with the FAA to get the ordinance "grandfathered", and since that time no other city has succeeded in enacting an airport noise related ordinance that controls the number of daily commercial flight operations. According to an earlier version of the airport's website, the 10 key components of the Long Beach Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance are: (123) Long Beach Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance Provisions 1. The Long Beach Airport is operational 24 hours a day. 2. Commercial carriers are allowed at least 41 flights daily and commuter carriers are allowed at least 25 daily flights. 3. Single Event Noise Equivalent Levels (SENEL) are established for four time periods. The nighttime period from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. is the most sensitive and therefore has the most restrictive allowable noise limit. 4. A Violation Process is established.
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Case Studies in Airport/Stakeholder Communication 71 5. An Alternative Enforcement Procedure is established including referral to the City Prosecu- tor for action. 6. Five airport user groups were established and assigned an annual noise budget for takeoff and landing noise. The five user groups are air carriers (commercial airlines), commuter car- riers, charter operators, industrial/manufacturing operators and general aviation (which includes all other users). The noise of military operations, public aircraft, law enforcement, and emergency life flights is excluded in calculating CNEL and in assessing compliance with CNEL goal and annual noise budget. 7. As an incentive for airlines to fly quietly, the Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance pro- vides that additional flights only can be added if it is determined by the City that the cumu- lative noise level would remain below the annual noise budget standard with the added flight or flights included. 8. Single event noise tracking, real-time noise, and actual recorded noise are required, so the airport has installed 18 noise monitors and a flight tracking system. 9. Limitations on hours of training and run-ups are established, including early curtailment on weekends and holidays, and all but one runway is closed during late night hours. 10. A pilot education program is established as an on-going program to teach pilots about com- munity noise issues. This program involves working with pilots on preventing and reducing noise impacts in the community. LGB was selected as the southern California hub location for Jet Blue Airlines in 2001. Jet Blue initiated service with many new flights to the east coast. The airport previously had very limited commercial passenger service, only 14 flights daily, which increased to the 41 flight limit with the introduction of service by Jet Blue. The airport, however, had a budget allocation of noise based on a preexisting Airline Settlement Agreement. The "noise budget" allows up to 41 carrier flights per day plus 25 commuter flights, but also provides that additional flights can be added if it is determined by the City that the cumulative noise level would remain below the annual noise budget standard with the added flight or flights included. The growth of Jet Blue resulted in pub- lic concern about noise levels, but also business support for the additional low cost service. LGB has worked to maintain the Settlement Agreement through a combination of public communication and work with the airlines. For the first year they worked to educate. Staff engaged in intense public education outreach about noise issues and the Noise Ordinance that emphasized that an increase in flights was permitted, so long as the cumulative noise levels remained below the annual noise budget. LGB also emphasized the uniqueness and value of the local control over aircraft noise that the Noise Ordinance provided. At the same time they worked with Jet Blue and other commercial airlines, educating them on the requirements of the Ordinance, warning them of violations, and fining them for flights that violated its various requirements, such as the curfew. Jet Blue spent $600,000 in fines that went to the Long Beach Library Foundation and was dispersed into the community for technology in family learning centers. Subsequently, Jet Blue has maintained the same number of flights, but adjusted its schedule to direct late night flights into nearby Los Angeles International Airport. There is also a LGB Aviation Noise Abatement Committee that includes all interested airport tenants, users, and operators who work cooperatively to police themselves on noise issues and develop technical solutions to noise problems. LGB reports that the impact of their noise com- munications program is fewer requests from the community for meetings, a change in public perceptions, less intense complaint calls and a less angry tone of communications from the pub- lic. Staff also believes that external factors outside the control of the airport, such as the state of the economy, may have had an impact on solutions. The airlines in Long Beach may well have been willing to settle with what became the ultimate solution because airlines were facing diffi- cult economic conditions.
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72 Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations Interview Results The case study interviews included the primary people responsible for management and com- munication of the noise abatement program, representatives of formal community groups, as well as others with insight into the special issues at the airport. For the spring 2008 case study interviews, the following persons were contacted: · Public Information Officer, Long Beach Airport · Former Director, Long Beach Airport · Chair, Long Beach Airport Advisory Committee · Representative, Jet Blue Airlines, Long Beach Airport · Founding member of ANAC (Aviation Noise Abatement Committee) Key Issues. In determining what particular lessons were learned from this case study, it is important to understand the issues that complicate the lessons. Long Beach is unusual in its situ- ation as an airport with a grandfathered, locally controlled noise budget. Its situation evolved out of a long history of lawsuits, but the "Noise Budget" appears to have been accepted by the airport, airport users and the community neighbors. All groups have an incentive to work together because all fear loss of local control to federal oversight that would come with change of the current rules. It gives the community the assurance that noise levels will not rise above a baseline level. It allows the signatory users flexibility in operations as long as they do not impact the overall noise levels and gives them incentives to reduce their noise levels with the potential to increase the number of flights. The airport and the City have an incentive to fund the noise management staff at a level that allows for extensive interaction with the community and with the airport users. The downside is that as a "grandfathered" solution, FAA is unlikely to approve another action of the same type. Findings. The interviews were open-ended to allow for exploration of the particular situa- tion at LGB. The observations presented here were drawn from the interviews to report a selec- tion of the primary ideas about communications techniques from this airport. The lessons include techniques that worked and those to avoid. Communication Techniques That Worked for LBG · A comprehensive strategy for dealing with noise that includes education and engagement on the public side and monitoring, notification, negotiation, and enforcement on the user side, with widespread buy-in to the approach. · The working group model is helpful if it includes meaningful roles for the public and airport users and incentives for them to work together, and when there is an ability to implement the results of their efforts. · Invite participation by individuals who are known to be rational leaders of a variety of broad- based community groups, and include representatives of airport user groups. This will more likely lead to widespread acceptance of somewhat controversial solutions and a product that actually can be implemented. · Consider organizing an airport user group. Members can self-police and identify problem operators. They can suggest creative solutions to noise issues because they have expertise, con- tacts, and resources. Peer review is a proactive business-friendly approach that is more suc- cessful than penalties. Communication Techniques LGB Chose to Avoid in the future · Allowing membership of people with no ability to give and take. Summary Long Beach Airport was selected as a case study because it is a commercial passenger airport that experienced a sudden and significant introduction of new passenger flights by large aircraft.