Airflight Highways

LOOK! UP in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s….. another plane…and another one….and another one.   

APRIL17AirflightNextdoor is lit up as neighbors in the West Adams community weigh in on the onslaught of air traffic noise over their community.   Indeed, on the second day after relocating from one street north of the 10 freeway to 3 blocks south of it I recall thinking, "Oh no. I live under a flight path".  Jeff Camp, a West Adams resident spearheading local response, reported over 300 flights in one day. This reporter decided to track a half hour in West Adams neighborhood know for its peace and quiet.... until this year.  
The evening of July 27 between 9:30 pm and 10 pm.
3 planes went overhead all within one minute at 9:28.
Another one at 9:30.
9:31 another one,
9:34 another airplane.
9:39 another plane.
9:42 another.
9:43 another,
9:45 another.
9:49 another one.
9:51 another one,
9:54 another one,
9:59 another one.
10:01 another one.
10:03 here comes another one.

According to the LAX website, it “is the fourth busiest passenger airport in the world, second in the United States. It served more than 80.9 million passengers in 2016 an increase of almost 8 percent from the previous year.  As of March 2017, LAX offers 692 daily nonstop flights to 91 U.S. cities and 1,220 weekly nonstop flights to 78 international destinations in 41 countries on 66 commercial air carriers.  LAX ranks 14th in the world and fifth in the U.S. in air cargo tonnage processed, with more than 2.2 million tons of air cargo valued at over $101.4 billion.  LAX handled 697,138 operations (landings and takeoffs) in 2016.”

Technology is changing everything and the National Airspace System is not exempt. According to Wikipedia - “Between 2015 and 2025 they are transforming the air traffic control system in an effort to reduce gridlock in the sky and the airport, The project is dubbed NextGen [referred to as Metroplex in Southern California] and 'proposes to transform America’s air traffic control system from a radar-based system with radio communication to a satellite-based one.' GPS technology will be used to shorten routes, save time and fuel, reduce traffic delays, increase capacity, and permit controllers to monitor and manage aircraft with greater safety margins. Radio communications will be increasingly replaced by data exchange and automation will reduce the amount of information the air crew must process at one time.

As a result of these changes, planes will be able to fly closer together, take more direct routes and avoid delays caused by airport 'stacking' as planes wait for an open runway.” 

Aye.  And there’s the rub.  

As the campaign is implemented throughout the country, the direct routes of airplanes following each other more closely have created noisy highways in the sky, a shower of pollution raining down onto communities below and a spike in complaints from 904 in February of 2016 to 3,247 in February of 2017.  Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, New York, Phoenix, Culver City along with our adjacent community, and San Diego are primarily impacted and lawsuits have ensued. 

A local pilot weighing in on Nextdoor disputed the Nexgen project redirected flights over our community but rather was the result of airport construction. It is both. So in October of 2016 Culver City decided to challenge the environmental review by Federal Aviation Administration’s Southern California Metroplex Project. The FAA review conveniently found that there was No Significant Impact to the environment.  Culver City filed a Petition for Review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit claiming that the FAA did not adequately consider the affect of noise and pollution on affected communities and did not do an adequate technical analysis before redesigning the airspace. 

“Our residents have already experienced a significant impact on their quality of life from current flight path changes. The citizens and businesses of Culver City deserve a full analysis and discussion of the location, altitude, and impacts of these new approach and departure procedures created by the Project, which are absent from the FAA’s Environmental Assessment,” said Culver City Mayor Jim B. Clarke.”

Numerous calls to Representative Karen Bass from the rising tide of Nextdoor activists, have resulted in an upcoming sit down and this statement from Representative Bass -  “The continual barrage of airplane noise and pollution at all hours is absolutely unacceptable. My office has received numerous complaints over the past years about both daytime noise from frequent, lower flights, and about nighttime noise from planes landing over homes instead of over the ocean.  I encourage constituents to actively report the noise events to LAX noise management in order to build an official record of the problems. 

In the meantime, I have directed my staff to set up a meeting between the relevant agencies and affected constituents as soon as it can be arranged.  I have also been working with my colleagues in the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus to direct funds to address the airplane noise issues being felt across the country.  Please stay in touch with my office so I can continue to track how this is affecting our district.”

To file a complaint CLICK HERE  These complaints influence outcomes. 

Photo by Michael Kelly


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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