Commentary submitted by Jon Rogers of Jon Rogers Aviation Consulting in Van Nuys and a former noise consultant for the Venice Neighborhood Council.
In 1973, federal courts granted airports the right to enact reasonable, non-arbitrary, non-discriminatory noise abatement procedures that pose no hazard to aviation safety. Since then, Santa Monica has imposed virtually every noise abatement procedure known to exist. Yet, they are continuously embroiled in noise issues and seem to rejoice when Santa Monica residents log noise complaints.
My mission as a noise consultant for the Venice Neighborhood Council as well as Indianapolis Executive was to educate those who complain about aircraft noise, as to what noise they had to accept and what noise they did not have to accept. And, that they could only ask for reasonable noise abatement measures and it was my job to know the difference.
Currently, there is substantial evidence to prove that Santa Monica’s existing and proposed noise abatement procedures are unreasonable and caused by neighbors with unrealistic expectations about aircraft noise.
Airport management deliberately designed each procedure to unreasonably transfer aircraft noise from Santa Monica to other communities without their concurrence. Beware however, that turnabout will be reasonable if other flight schools decide to export operations to Santa Monica as I have suggested.
The FAA is very clear about noise transfer schemes. The Regional Administrator wrote to Congressman Brad Sherman:
The FAA will not arbitrarily move noise from one community to another. Therefore, any changes will require concurrence from all impacted communities.
More recently, El Segundo objected to Burbank’s proposed curfew. Their attorney wrote:
Noise relief for one community should not come at the expense of another.
Political leaders who grandstand about airport noise are the same leaders who implement economic policies for job growth that create aviation demand and the resulting noise. I don’t recall any politician who campaigned on a platform of unemployment.
If airports are willing to take Santa Monica’s problem noise in addition to their own, then they have done the superior job of noise mitigation and community outreach.
Santa Monica should at the minimum, emulate the noise mitigation standard set at Indianapolis Executive Airport and manage their communities to have realistic expectations about aircraft noise.
Indianapolis Executive Airport under my watch has operated for nearly 12 years without a single noise abatement procedure, noise monitor, flight tracking system, or even “Fly Quiet” signs. Yet no one complains. In fact, during the 2012 Super Bowl, the airport hosted nearly 90 corporate jets and at least twice that many round robin operations without a single noise complaint. Which airport has done the superior job of noise mitigation?
Further, Santa Monica should cease using noise complaints and other threats to harass and intimidate pilots. This is a safety hazard. National Transportation Safety Board accident investigations indicate that since 1987, at least 181 innocent persons have been killed and another 37 were injured because the flight crews’ concern with failing to comply with noise abatement procedures fatally overrode the safety procedures that would have prevented the accident.
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