Archive for March, 2010

Mayor Villaraigosa Celebrates the Phaseout of Noisy Jets at Van Nuys Airport

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

by Ted Baldwin

That’s the headline of a recent press release from the City of Los Angeles.  We are celebrating, too, having shepherded this project for the last few years through a long and challenging route.  In particular, we are excited that Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has achieved a goal that the Board of Airport Commissioners set in June 1990; i.e., the phaseout of older, noisier Part 36 Stage 1 and 2 aircraft. 

Van Nuys Airport

Van Nuys Airport

The ordinance was signed by Mayor Villaraigosa on March 9, 2010, and will go into effect on April 15, 2010.  Major provisions of the ordinance phaseout include:

  • On or after January 1, 2009: No aircraft may arrive or depart VNY whose takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA).
  • On or after January 1, 2011: No aircraft may arrive or depart VNY whose takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 83 dBA.
  • On or after January 1, 2014: No aircraft may arrive or depart VNY whose takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 80 dBA.
  • On or after January 1, 2016: No aircraft may arrive or depart VNY whose takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 77 dBA.

The noise limits do not apply to military, government, medical, Stage 3 and 4 aircraft, and emergency operations.  The ordinance also exempts operations of aircraft that are permanently departing VNY, and of historic types first flown before 1950.  Operations of former military aircraft that are now privately owned, and operations related to major maintenance and repairs are exempt until 2016.

In his remarks, Mayor Villaraigosa said, “This is a landmark ordinance and a confirmation that City Hall and L.A.’s neighborhoods can truly work together to accomplish difficult, significant tasks to improve our quality of life.  I thank and congratulate everyone who helped make it happen after four years of hard work.” 

HMMH is proud to have had the opportunity to assist the City to achieve this long-standing noise abatement objective of the LAWA Board of Airport Commissioners.

More information on the VNY Phaseout can be found here.


Fly Quietly

Fly Quietly

Solar Guide for Airports

Monday, March 29th, 2010

by Steve Barrett

This past week, Bob (Miller), Phil (DeVita) and I met with Jake Plante, FAA’s Project Manager, to kick-off the Solar Guide for Airports Project.  Over the next nine months, HMMH will be compiling information on solar technology, financing, FAA rules, and government funding, and consolidating it into an easy to read guidebook that will help airports assess the solar generation opportunity.  We will also be presenting detailed case studies of Airports – like DIA and ABQ – that have already developed solar projects and describe the factors that have made them successful.  How important is the amount of solar resource to the economics of a project?  What government incentive programs have been successful?  What are the roles of the different players (airport, solar company, utility)?  Have existing projects resulted in economic and other benefits?  How has the FAA ensured that these projects protect safe air navigation?  We look forward to working with the FAA in coming months to answer these questions, and more.

Noisy Toys: Another warning for parents!

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

by Mary Ellen Eagan

A while back, I blogged about iPods, and how you should not let your kids play them too loud.  Not in the car, or on the train.  Not with a friend, or on a plane.  (OK, Dr. Seuss I’m not).  The rule of thumb in our house:  if mom or dad can hear it (and it’s in the kid’s ear), it’s way too loud.  Our other rule of thumb:  the volume knob should not go past the middle of the range (did you know that iPods in the EU have a lower volume limit?).


Anyway, today’s post is about kids toys.  Basic findings of a study (here and here) conducted at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology show that some of those plastic, musical toys that your toddlers love most can create maximum noise levels as high as 90 – 100 dBA at a distance of 12 inches (i.e., where your kids ears are).  These levels are probably only high enough to cause hearing damage if you listen to them persistently, or if you put them right up to your ear, but it’s just not a good idea.  And for comparison, aircraft noise levels that folks complain about are generally on the order of 70 – 80 dBA, which is many times quieter than these sources!  So if your kid must have Tickle Me Elmo (or you can’t convince your in-laws not to get it for her), please make sure she keeps it away from her ears!

Toy List - Noisy Toys Study 2009

Toy List - Noisy Toys Study 2009

Source:  Sight and Hearing Association, 2009

Thanks for listening.

JPDO – Federal Policy Framework

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

by Diana Khera 

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the JPDO is also working on setting up a framework for high- level federal policy on several airport-related topics.  There is a sizable list of airport-related policies that are under consideration, but here are a few that have the greatest amount of momentum at this time: 

Timely Equipage of Aircraft and Deployment of CNS/ATM NextGen Technologies: Policies are being explored to determine if operational incentives, economic incentives (e.g., tax credits) or mandates should be employed to promote aircraft equipage of specific NextGen avionics technologies that will be necessary to achieve improved performance and safety in the National Airspace System (NAS). This policy is essential for successful implementation of most of NextGen capabilities.  

Role of Federal Government Airport Capacity Enhancements: The JPDO and its partners are looking into ways to increase and/or alter the way that the federal government supports airport capacity enhancement and airport preservation;  the debates range from simply increasing the federal involvement in base closers and realignments to proposals for legislative changes that would strengthen the FAA’s role as a proponent of the aviation system.   .

Airspace Regulatory Changes – Global Harmonization:  Develop streamlined US and international regulatory/policy coordination, through International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and/or other bilateral/multilateral partnerships, to harmonize and improve flexibility in modification of international regulations and policies related to airspace use.

Part 2 of 2 – Airspace and Procedures at JPDO

Monday, March 15th, 2010

by Diana Khera

Another concept under development at the JPDO that will influence how airports and airspace are utilized and planned is called  Super Density Operations.  This is basically a portfolio of new technologies and procedures for improving airport surface movements, reducing spacing and separation requirements, and better managing overall flows in and out of busy metropolitan airspace.   “Busy metropolitan airspace” is the key phrase here. Super density ops is the far-term solution for highly congested metropolitan areas.    Most of the components of Super Density Ops have been discussed at many conferences and forums in the last five years, but what is new and challenging is that the JPDO is taking a preliminary look at strategies for prioritizing flights in situations where excess demand is encountered regardless of all the NextGen improvements.   

A great need will arise for achieving peak throughput performance at the busiest airports and in the busiest airspace as NextGen demand materializes.  Even with the increased capacity and operating flexibility of NextGen and Super Density Operations, there will be situations and environments in which operators will compete for a limited volume of airspace and airport facilities.  We all know that unmanaged excess demand can degrade system efficiency and cause delays that ripple through the entire air transportation system.  The good news is that NextGen 4D trajectory management, better communications vehicles, and net-enabled system wide information sharing will provide the capability for flights operating in congested environments to be rationalized and prioritized in ways that increase overall capacity and efficiency in the system.  It will also provide more predictability and flexibility for operators. To achieve maximum benefits of these capabilities however, prioritization rules, mechanisms, and regimes (derived in collaboration with users and other stakeholders), both for strategic ATM and tactical trajectory management, must be developed and applied by the NextGen 4DT automation.   One of the solutions on the table that is of special interest to those of us dealing with airspace design is the concept of applying such prioritization rules in a new type of airspace called: wait for it…. you guessed it … restricted Super Density Airspace.  As I mentioned earlier this is all at the most conceptual levels at this time as we are discussing a very complex far-term capability, but I did want to bring to your attention that there is a team of JPDO subject matter experts, FAA and industry representatives exploring and documenting  historic and proposed flight prioritization rules, mechanisms and regimes, and that they are developing  a catalog of flight prioritization options that might be feasible and helpful for Super Density Operations under NextGen.  The basic objectives of this undertaking are to :

  • Define a technical basis for developing and evaluating prioritization rules by establishing a set of metrics, weights, and criteria.
  • Provide an understanding of the decision making process as it affects flight prioritization policy decisions. 

Next up, a framework for high level federal policy on several airport related topics – so visit again soon!