New study to evaluate airplane flight paths and noise in coastal neighborhoods
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 01/17/18 - 12:34 PM | 11155 views | 1 1 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This composite photo shows dozens of planes taking off from San Diego International Airport and headed over Point Loma. A new study will evaluate how flight paths and noise impacts Peninsula neighborhoods.   OLIVER ASIS / CONTRIBUTOR
This composite photo shows dozens of planes taking off from San Diego International Airport and headed over Point Loma. A new study will evaluate how flight paths and noise impacts Peninsula neighborhoods. OLIVER ASIS / CONTRIBUTOR
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A new study titled “Part 150” has been green lighted to evaluate flight-path improvements and noise reductions in and around San Diego International Airport.

Noise has been a real sore spot for coastal residents from the Point to La Jolla, who allege flight-path changes the past couple years have negatively impacted their lifestyles.

Recently, District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf spoke before the Airport Authority on the  merits of the Part 150 study.

“As your council member, I have advocated for reduction in airport noise in our communities,” Zapf said. “As part of my support for the Part 150 study, I have requested the FAA be a proactive partner to improve the quality of life in surrounding communities.”

Part 150, a federal aviation regulation, guides and controls planning for aviation noise compatibility on and around airports. The federal regulation establishes procedures, standards and methodologies to be used by airport operators for preparation of Airport Noise Exposure Maps. 

Such exposure maps are used in the Quieter Home Program, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Residential Sound Insulation Program. The FAA has determined that residences within the 65-plus decibel-level limit around SDIA may be eligible for sound-insulation treatments to mitigate aircraft noise. The FAA has set a goal of reducing interior-noise levels for eligible residents by at least five decibels inside the home, providing a noticeable noise reduction.

But not everyone is certain the Part 150 study will be a cure-all for decreasing airport noise in communities directly impacted from alleged flight-path changes.

One skeptic is Gary Wonacott, Mission Beach Town Council president.

“Clearly, the FAA modifications benefitted some areas of Mission Beach, mainly the north, and negatively impacted South Mission Beach,” Wonacott said. “According to responses from residents in PB and La Jolla, they were also negatively impacted by some of the flight path changes.

“The key point here is that Part 150 cannot be used to assess the benefits of the procedural changes proposed for Mission Beach and La Jolla, because these communities are not in the 65-decibel area. As you know, currently, the majority of our noise complaints come outside our 65-decibel contour,” Wonacott said.

Wonacott admitted, however, the FAA is showing a willingness to compromise. “The FAA has demonstrated that they are willing to look at procedural changes that reduce noise outside the 65 decibel limit,” he said.

Point Loman Casey Schnoor has been a watchdog for the NextGen and airport noise situation for more than two years. A citizen’s representative on a 15-member airport subcommittee, Schnoor and his colleagues came up with 21 recommendations for “quieting” airport noise in coastal communities in the airport’s flight path, following a year of deliberations.

Schnoor talked about the goal of those 21 recommendations.

“The goal is to mitigate the impacts to the communities of any of those flight paths, or adjacent to those flight paths,” he said.

Is the Part 150 a step in the right direction? “I am cautiously optimistic,” Schnoor replied. “Part 150 is a process. It appears to be the best vehicle to execute all those [recommended] changes.”

Schnoor noted Part 150 is an 18- to 24-month process.

“We don’t want to sit on our hands for two years, when a lot of these things are problems today,” Schnoor said, adding, it’s also important to continue monitoring “day-to-day issues and procedures” with airport operations. That needs to be done, he said, to hold the federal agency accountable for its operations, and to ensure the Airport Authority remains responsive to citizens’ concerns and complaints about aircraft noise.

Schnoor said the airport points to noise issues remaining relatively stable the past couple years. But he’s quick to caution: “You need to look at the multi-year picture, year over year. At a quick glance (at recent data), nothing has changed. But if you go back to 2014 and see the data on missed approaches, early turns, curfew violations, etc. you’ll see where the current figures have come down from.”

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casey schnoor
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January 18, 2018
Mr. Schwab,

Thank you for your informative reporting in this week’s Beach and Bay related publications as well as making time for our conversation last week.

However, I would like to point out two areas of important clarification:

1) As part of our conversation as well as the written information I provided to you last week, I was focused upon the very important community expectation that a FAA 7100.41a (“41a”) analysis is to be conducted “in conjunction with” and “in concert with” the Part 150 study. The importance of the concurrent 41a study was also emphasized by members of the SDCRAA Board of Directors during their discussion to approve the Part 150 process on December 7th. This very important link was missing from your article.

In sum, SDCRAA has provided the community with their assurances that in their discussions with FAA, FAA has stated their willingness to do a concurrant 41a. This is most important as there is a critical nexus between the two efforts in that the 41a may be required by FAA to execute on many of the route revisions, as requested within the subcommittee list. Therefore, to avoid further delays to the study, the 41a study needs to be initiated concurrant with the Part 150 as it is a is critical componet for the timely success of the Part 150 process. Please note however that commencing the 41a process is at the sole discretion of the FAA and therefore it is a key element that the community has been and will continue to press SDCRAA to firm up with FAA, beyond their current “assurances”.

2) In quoting me, “You need to look at the multi-year picture, year over year. At a quick glance (at recent the data), nothing has changed. But if you go back to 2014 and see the data on missed approaches, early turns, curfew violations, etc. you’ll see where the current figures have come down from.”

The key context that is missing from this quote is that when looking at year over year data, each of the various violations tracked spiked significantly up during or after 2014 to never before reached peaks, so that “where the current figures have come down from” …. must be compared to 2014 and before to see that these violation events, while at or in some cases below their peaks, still remain well above 2014 and years prior. Further, these are “day to day” matters that are under the direct day to day control of FAA’s Air Traffic Control (“ATC”) located adjacent to Miramar Air Station and, while inclusive within the 21 subcommittee recommendations to explored within the Part 150, they can be directly addressed by ATC today, not after the lengthy Part 150 process.

These are both very important elements of the communities poisiton. As such, your further clarifiacation and amplication of these points would be greatly appreciated.

Should you need further clarificaiton, I would be more than happy to assist as needed to promote these key points.

Sincerely,

R. Casey Schnoor

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