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FAA: Flaws in curfew

May 26, 2004

Jackson Bell

Advocates of a mandatory nighttime curfew at Bob Hope Airport

received a blow this week when Federal Aviation Administration

officials concluded that banning nighttime flights would break the

law.

But Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority officials, who

received a letter Monday from the FAA stating the agency's position

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on curfews, also learned that the FAA is willing to discuss other

ways to reduce airport noise.

"They are saying that we are out of bounds as far as what we're

asking for because it is not a pressing problem with all of our

aircraft that operate after 10 at night," Airport Authority

President Charles Lombardo said. "[The letter] says we are not going

to get what we originally set out to obtain -- a full nighttime

curfew."

Airport Authority officials sought guidance on a noise-reduction

study, which began in 2000 and could cost the airport up to $4

million before its completion this summer. The study is a federal

requirement.

Victoria Catlett, of the FAA's office of airport planning and

programming, wrote in the letter that a curfew might affect aircraft

below noise standards. Furthermore, she wrote, the benefits of a

curfew might not outweigh the costs, and the curfew could overburden

the federal aviation system by disrupting air-traffic patterns.

About 97% of the airlines already operate within the restrictions

of the 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. voluntary curfew for large airliners.

Catlett could not be reached for comment.

"This voluntary curfew reduces the magnitude of the nighttime

noise problem and commensurately raises the bar in terms of evidence

that will be required to justify the need for, and benefits, of a

mandatory curfew," she wrote.

Airport Authority spokesman Victor Gill said the FAA's decision

comes as little surprise since officials are pushing to make the

airport the first in the nation to set a curfew for stage-3 aircraft

-- the newest generation of quieter planes. Gill added that federal

laws protect the airplanes, but the airport is trying to find a way

around the federal regulations.

"The author focuses on the fact that the FAA doesn't say nighttime

restrictions cannot be achieved, but the problem is with the

[noise-reduction] study and a blanket curfew," he said. "This

underscores what we've been telling the public -- that it will be an

uphill fight all the way."

Officials will discuss their response to the letter during the

next Airport Authority meeting at 9 a.m. June 7 in the Airport

Skyroom of Bob Hope Airport, 2627 Hollywood Way.

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