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Project Experience: Van Nuys Airport, California

The Challenge

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) considers noise compatibility to be a high-priority, continuing process. Through decades of effort, it has established an extensive noise management program at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) that is widely recognized for its innovation and benefits. Major elements include:

  • voluntary noise abatement operating procedures
  • formal use restrictions
  • land use measures to mitigate existing impacts and prevent new impacts
  • comprehensive noise and operations monitoring
  • all-inclusive stakeholder involvement

In 2005, LAWA retained HMMH to assist in optimizing this mature program, to ensure that it provides the most comprehensive and balanced noise management approach feasible, to address existing and potential future conditions.

The Strategy

HMMH’s approached this challenge through a two-step process that first identified feasible non-restrictive improvements, and then considered restrictions that would satisfy federal benefit-cost, statutory, and grant-assurance tests. The process was pursued through a precedent-setting Part 161 study – the first to simultaneously address multiple restrictions, in five major categories:

  • Restriction of noisier aircraft operations
  • Restricting growth in jet operations
  • Restriction of helicopter operations
  • Restriction of nighttime operations
  • Penalizing or prohibiting operations exceeding measured noise limits

HMMH ultimately recommended that LAWA pursue a formal seven-year phaseout of noisier aircraft under a Part 161 provision that exempts (“grandfathers”) rules proposed before October 2, 1990. HMMH assisted LAWA to obtain the grandfather and to then prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), under the California Environmental Quality Act. The LAWA Board, Los Angeles City Council, and Mayor subsequently approved the phaseout it went into effect on April 15, 2010.

The phaseout is the first new airport use restriction in the U.S. since HMMH assisted Naples (Florida) Municipal Airport to ban Stage 2 jets in November 2000.

HMMH determined that restrictions to achieve improvements in other categories would not meet legal requirements. HMMH demonstrated that existing non-restrictive approaches had been successful in those areas and that further improvements could be achieved through enhancements of existing implementation mechanisms. LAWA has engaged HMMH to assist in pursuing those enhancements.

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Van Nuys Airport Single Event Contour Comparisons for Three Gulfstream Corporate Jets: Stage 2, Stage 2 Hushkitted to Stage 3, and True “Manufactured” Stage 3