Plane Mufflers Could Relieve Some Airport Neighbors

Santa Monica Airport Commission responds to test results of a muffler that could be used by local flight schools.

If flight schools take to the idea, attaching mufflers to some of their planes could make life more peaceful for residents living near Santa Monica Airport.

The city tested a German-made muffler, called QuietFlight, on a Cessna 172 in December and recorded positive results, the Santa Monica Airport Commission learned Monday night.

"You hear [the plane] coming toward you the same way, but it disappears once it moves past you," said Stelios Makrides, the airport's operations and noise management supervisor.

At its next meeting, the commission will consider asking the City Council to discount landing fees for aircraft that use mufflers.

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"In some parts of Europe, mufflers [are used as] incentives," said John Fairweather, founder of a local advocacy group, Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic. "I think that’s what we should do in Santa Monica."

City staffers are working on a proposal to charge landing fees to Santa Monica Airport-based aircraft. Currently, fees for landing at the airport are charged to aircraft not based at the airport. A nexus study assessing fees charged at other general aviation airports will be presented to the commission in February and to the City Council in April.

"The city has wide latitude in structuring its airport fees," said Deputy City Attorney Ivan Campbell. "I don’t think the problem would be compliance… it would be whether or not it makes sense to the operators."

The city estimated that of the approximately 30 flight school planes operating at the airport, the majority are Cessna 172s.

The cost of buying and installing a muffler is about $5,000 per plane, according to flight school owner Joe Justice.

"There wouldn't be a mad rush to put those on to avoid paying landing fees," he told Patch.

Airport staffers did two tests in December using the same Cessna 172 from Justice Aviation, one of six flight schools at Santa Monica Airport. On one day, the measured sound from the plane without the muffler, and on another—when weather conditions were nearly identical—they measured the noise with the muffler.

At a monitoring station on 18th Street, between Dewey and Navy streets in Santa Monica, they recorded a reduction in "single event noise exposure levels" between 4.8 dBA to 8.3 dBA. At the west end of Penmar Golf Course on Warren Avenue in Venice, there was a reduction between 3.5 dBA to 5 dBA.

The duration of the noise decreased, too, Makrides wrote in a report. At the Santa Monica station, there was a reduction of between 2 to 6 seconds (or about 17 to 46 percent), and at the Venice station between 4 to 9 seconds (or approximately 33 to 56 percent).

"It goes without saying that an 8.3 dBA reduction in SENEL for the normal 'fly neighborly' departure path could truly be a game changer in terms of mitigating neighborhood noise impacts from prop planes," Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic wrote Sunday on its website.

CASMAT said the muffler has the potential to "get rid of the continuous lower level droning of pattern flying for all neighborhoods in the pattern flying loop, as well as reducing the impact of the actual takeoff overpass for the observer." 

Michele Perrone questioned whether the muffler would actually help residents in Santa Monica's Ocean Park neighborhood. "Most of our noise is coming at us," she said. "Maybe it's not going to help us."

About 40 percent of Santa Monica Airport traffic is generated by aircraft that stay within the local traffic pattern or the airport's designated controlled  airspace, and many of those operations are takeoffs and landings by pilots-in-training, according to Airport Services Director Robert Trimborn.

"Airport staff receives numerous noise complaints from residents regarding these repetitive types of local operations especially during weekends and holidays when most people are at home," Trimborn said in June, when the council considered paying pilots to conduct training flights at other Los Angeles-area airports.

"It does seem like flight schools are becoming more and more prominent in the discussion and recommendations we’re making," commissioner Ofer Grossman said Monday night.

Collin Madden January 31, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Welcome to the kleptocracy - four more years baby! I own a condo where HOA's are distributed equally regardless of sq footage. Every so often one of the smaller unit owners (like me) buys a unit and comes up with the brilliant notion that the system is unfair and that dues ought be shared by square footage. I'd be one of the chief beneficiaries. The attitude makes me physically ill; all the security of building a successful business in Venezuela - watch out!!
Pilot Dave January 31, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Patricia, the neighbors and the FAA have changed the standard departure procedure several times. It seems whatever neighborhood group complains the most gets to change the traffic pattern, but the planes do need to fly some place. Most pilots try to climb away above the penmar golf course. As for the "black gunk" a suggestion would be to reroute the 405 and 10 freeways. Perhaps we could put them underground in a tunnel. That is likely the source of the "black gunk". Another idea would be to outlaw cars and motorcycles in all of Los Angeles and make people use bicycles. Cars and Motorcycles are very dangerous. There was a fatal motorcycle crash earlier this week.
Edward Rosiak January 31, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Aircraft muffler(s) do play a role regarding noise on propeller aircraft, but not typically as much as the propeller(s) does. The majority of prop-aircraft noise comes from the propeller tips approaching sub-sonic speed at high RPM, which is required for takeoff. The longer the prop the more noise it generates, dependent upon RPM numbers. Lower horsepower aircraft such as training C172’s are not the problem. Aircraft will never be as quiet as automobiles, so asking aircraft owners to invest in some ridiculously priced muffler, will not make a significant difference. If there was any type of aviation expertise on the airport board they would know this and not waste everyone's time chasing "silver bullets". But then, I suppose that is what these politico type’s do. Ed Rosiak - California Pilots Association
Norman Davis February 01, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Looks like someone wants to make extra cash or fleece the aircraft owner. $5000 is a pretty outrageous amount for a muffler even for a rather non spectacular aircraft
Joe Farrell February 01, 2013 at 03:11 AM
For gosh sakes - its like moving to the ocean and complaining about the water or to Chino and complaining about the smell of cattle. Santa Monica Municipal Airport has been where it is since the 1930's - when you bought your house you had no idea there was an airport there? Give me a freaking break. You paid LESS for your house because it was close to the airport and the noise it provides. Stop being so selfish. You want pilots to fly your cheap ass to Cleveland when you need to go back to visit grandma then they need to learn to fly somewhere. Aviation creates jobs, it educates youth and adds literally billions to the local economy - how do you intend to replace that to get your peace and quiet?
kevin laird February 01, 2013 at 11:09 AM
"It makes absolutely no sense to have an airport in SM" I agree...there should be two airports in sm.
Dan Charney February 01, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Well said all you pilots and wise ones not fooled by BS of this city that will do anything to get their hands on that property and replace it with more ugly condos- a business park and the same boring retail- that is the key here- they want the land to develop- the home owners are simply the chorus being whipped up by the city and the developers- the airport is vital to so many things being lost in this city going to the pretentious dogs - its actually REAL- how lucky we are to have it- to have the safety and sheer fortune in an emergency or the fun of a Sunday watching soccer and having a meal at the Spitfire- the art galleries - the 'juice' of something not 'Montana Ave'- want to get rid of pollution? Remove loud motorcycles and big engine vehicles- but better yet- to really remove the danger to this city and our sanity and life- remove this miserable city council and planners- at least most of them - but leave my airport alone- almost all the soul being ripped out of my wonderful little city - as for the nasty realtors- everything is a "tear down" to them- lucky Venice and Rome Italy didn't have this group watching over them-
Love the beach February 03, 2013 at 01:38 AM
I live in the area, all my friends in mar vista, venice, ocean park, and Sunset park, we want the airport shut except for emergency flights. The amount of increase in large planes, huge increase in amount of flights going out, have made it a very different airport that what it was even in 2005. The noise is huge ( it woke me up this morning taking off at 7:45 when they are not allowed to do that) the pollution issue, and the safety issue ( two crashes in the last two years) all add up that it needs to change. A muffler is not going to be enough. Thanks, but that's a band aid on gaping wound.
Joe Farrell February 03, 2013 at 05:46 PM
745am? Wtf. Lets just schedule it. What time is good for you? Does that make it ok then
Glenn E Grab February 03, 2013 at 05:58 PM
if you don'y like noise, how about griping about the overuse of sirens by the police and ambulances....they can be heard about 10 times a day and in the middle of the night....
Pilot Dave February 03, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Love the beach, First of all I am totally taken back by the arrogance of your comment and your brutal lies. The airport has been in operation for nearly 100 years. It was a bomber factory in WWII and had jet operations in the 60s. These jets were much louder than the jets of today and cannot even land at the airport today due to noise restrictions. Many people depend on Santa Monica Airport for their jobs and livelihood. How dare you take food off my children's table because you had to wake up at 7:45 am. I live right next to the airport and I like it. Did you not realize the airport was there when you moved in? In 2005 we had much more traffic at the airport than we do now, so you need to take your head out of your butt. And by the way the curfew does not apply to emergency flights such as medivac flights so chances are someone live was saved. I beg you to please move away from Santa Monica, not because you hate the airport but because you are too stupid to live in west LA.
Greg Fry February 04, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Pilot Dave, you're not being honest with the readers here. SMO dumps tons of pollutants in the air as well as on the ground. At least two schools--Richland Elementary and Daniel Webster Middle School--have elevated levels of lead in their soil as a direct result of airport traffic, and they are quite a distance from the runway--those homes, businesses and childrens' play areas that are closer have substantially higher levels. A plane actually crashed on the Webster site a few years back--fortunately school wasn't in session at the time. Those who claim "history' as a reason for this airport are also being disingenuous. This isn't the same airport that it once was nor does it serve its historic purposes. Here's a rundown from a previous Patch article: http://santamonica.patch.com/blog_posts/whats-the-deal-with-people-saying-santa-monica-airport-was-here-first-3#photo-6389395 Airport supporters will employ all sorts of disingenuous tactics to draw attention to pollution and safety issues elsewhere. The fact of the matter is that SMO IS A DIRTY, DANGEROUS WHITE ELEPHANT that should have been closed ages ago. It is an approximately million dollar a year drain on city coffers subsidized by the taxpayers of Santa Monica, basically for the benefit of the rich and selfish few to the danger and inconvenience of everyone else.
Glenn E Grab February 04, 2013 at 06:22 PM
how about the noise guys on un-mufflered motorcycles make?.....or the police and fire sirens that seem to happen about ten times a day, and in the middle of the night night?....I've got a great idea.....sell your house and move to Big Bear....they've got an airport there, it'll give you something to whine about.....
Ed Little February 04, 2013 at 06:23 PM
I think the most annoying sound of all is the whine of a pilot. I don't mind the planes so much, but I've never heard so much griping! Where do you all get off thinking your opinion is more important than the people who live around that airport? I don't live there but it's pretty clear to an outsider that there are two sides to this, and I don't see why mufflers are such a bad idea. Pilot Dave, maybe you should take your own advice and move to somewhere that has an airport the community supports.
Pilot Dave February 04, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Ed, Aopa did a study and found most citizens in Santa Monica want the airport to remain. I bought a house right next to the airport and I work there. Let's see how annoying you would sound if a few liberal complainers aided by fat cat developers tried to take away your livelihood. What would you sound like if someone closed your place of business. I don't have a problem with mufflers or working with the neighbors. I have a problem with the group that wants to close the airport so their houses will increase in price and I will loose my job and livelihood. The few that are out to harm us use terrorist like tactics. They lie to the public and even go so far as throwing nails in our airport and driveways. They say airplanes are unsafe, yet they throw nails around to try and make them crash.
Pilot Dave February 04, 2013 at 08:36 PM
Greg, Who's not being honest here? Where is your research? Where are your academic studies? Jerry Rubin and his CRAPPY website spews nothing but lies. When you repeat those lies here it does not make them true. The lead in the school's soil was found to be a result of leaded paint, so nice try Mr. Liar. The FAA wants to give millions to upgrade the airport and end the subsidies. You should ask the city council why they don't take the money. The airport is an asset for everyone. It affects people in all walks of life and is a critical part for our infrastructure. The police, libraries, parks etc all require money to operate. I don't hear you complaining that the police force is "subsidized" by the tax payer. I think that's cause your a big fat liar. Oh and yea the airport was here first, if you don't like it don't move next to it. The airport has not changed substantially since 1952.
Joe Farrell February 04, 2013 at 09:18 PM
the issue Ed is not pilot whining- its resident whing. The airport has been there since the 30's - it has tremendous historical significance in the US. Donald Douglas built the first DC-3's there which changed the world of commercial aviation. If the noise bothers you why did you buy a house under the flight path of an airports ony runway? If it doesn't bother you, then tell the city council - pilot whining is not relevant to your opinion .. .
Love the beach February 04, 2013 at 11:56 PM
PIlot Dave, Wow, you seem incapable of making a comment without resorting to personal insult to the poster with whom you disagree. If they don't hold your opinion they are uninformed and ignorant and need to be insulted. That sort of personal insult response doesn't help make your case, it makes you seem unhinged, which is not a great thing for a pilot of aircraft. Not everyone in the area owns their home, some of us rent and stay for the schools our kids are in. I used the early flight as an example, that happens every weekend. The planes are worse since 2005 when i moved here and i do understand the airport employs people. There are many business there that can remain without the incessant flight school planes. I dont belong to any group, i have nothing to do with trying to raise my property rates or putting nails down. All of which are so far fetched and paranoid. I'm a resident, who along with many other residents have seen planes go DOWN near where are kids are walking the dog or playing golf with their school. So while you are allowed to buy and love where you live next to the airport, many of us want to stop the air pollution, noise pollution, and danger of crashes in an airport that is no longer serving it's original purpose. Feel free to let the insults fly. I won't be responding. Many of my friends have houses all over the area affected by the airport, those i know in Mar Vista, Venice, Ocean Park, Sunset Park, and Santa Monica do not want it to continue.
Pilot Dave February 05, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Love the Beach, First of all thank you for giving me permission to let my insults fly. Perhaps you could also give the pilots and aircraft owners in Santa Monica permission to fly. You are a liar! This is a fact. Do you even love the beach?, I suspect not, that is probably just a lie too. Pathological liars, such as yourself, can do nothing but lie all the time. You claim the airport is dangerous, It’s not. You claim the airport pollutes. It does not. These are facts. You can feel free to look at any of the studies I have referenced to state the facts, but you won’t because you are a liar. I believe you are part of the terrorist element who is trying to shut down Santa Monica Airport. Really I’m just paranoid about the nails? Lookey here….. http://santamonica.patch.com/articles/plea-entered-in-airport-nail-throwing-case It’s time terrorists like you move away from Santa Monica airport. We are a group of freedom loving safety conscious people and you are no longer welcome in our community. Please do us a favor and move to Pitcairn Island where no airport exists for thousands of miles.
Glenn E Grab February 05, 2013 at 02:15 AM
planes bound for LAX go down also, is that an excuse for closing LAX?... the Santa Monica Airport is grandfathered in by the FAA.....if you don't like it, you'll have to move....maybe Afghanistan, not many private airports there...
concernedneighbor February 05, 2013 at 02:47 AM
Your kids are approximately 10,000 times more likely to get killed by a car than a plane falling from the sky...
Pilot Dave February 05, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Glenn, I usually agree with you about issues related to Santa Monica Airport but I would not suggest "Love the Beach" or any other airport neighbors moves to Afghanistan. Afghanistan has many airports both civil and commercial. I have done extensive research on the subject and the only logical location to move the enemies of Santa Monica Airport is Pitcairn Island. Pitcairn Island is ideally located half way between New Zealand and Chile. Transportation to and from the island is provided by a cargo ship twice a year. Residents of Pitcairn Island do not ever have to worry about an airport opening on the island because the island is only 2.2 square miles. Also only a handful of people live there. Residents of Pitcairn Island do not have access to reliable internet and thus could not post regularly on santamonica.patch.com. Many enemies of Santa Monica Airport seem to be against any form of modern convinces. They will be happy to know that Pitcairn Island does not have reliable electricity, sewer system, or even paved roads, not to mention cars! It would be a little Gilligan’s island for the extremists trying to close the airport and the best part it is almost as far away from Santa Monica as physically possible.
Glenn E Grab February 05, 2013 at 08:12 AM
thanks, dave
TD March 07, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Pilot Dave. There is a private airport next I-105 adjacent LAX that serves the same purpose as SM airport.
Pilot Dave March 08, 2013 at 06:46 AM
TD, There are 2 airports near the 105 freeways. LAX and HHR. Both are public airports. If there is another such airport that is "private" please let me know it's exact location as I would like to land there.
TD April 11, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Gosh Kenneth, I hope you are not reliant on one of those guys w/o common sense or in funny suits to save your life one day. You will realize at some point in your life, most likely towards the end, why they make the money the do and the amount of resposiblity they take on becoming an "ologist". To help and save the live's of moslty grately and some people like you. Most of the time they are just ignorant until they are actually knocking on death's door. Then they get it.
Doug April 22, 2013 at 02:37 AM
Doesn't pollute? What kind of imbecile doesn't understand that aircraft emit exhaust, heavy in lead? I've seen the independent studies, showing the concentrations near the airport. Defend your job all you like, but quit with the nonsensical gibberish.
Joe Farrell April 22, 2013 at 03:15 AM
What does heavy in lead mean? What standard are you using?
Glenn E Grab April 22, 2013 at 06:54 PM
doug....show us one actual study, not some figment of your biased imagination
an interested observer April 23, 2013 at 10:02 PM
You're making up stuff, Doug. Aircraft emit small amounts of leaded exhaust compared to automobile traffic on Bundy alone. If you beg to differ with all the evidence, then please back it up.


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