La Jollans: Airplane noise is a systemic problem

At the June 21 Airport Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) meeting — the first since the La Jolla Town Council formed a task force to find solutions to the increase in aircraft noise over the area — representative Matthew Price said the latest data presented reveals “this negative impact is a systemic problem, not just because of early right turns.”

Early right turns by pilots, especially those occurring after 10:30 p.m. have been cited as some of the most complained-about noise situations because these late night flights are at a low altitude over La Jolla.

At the meeting, Airport Authority noise mitigation specialist Caroline Becker reported that 53 percent of the complaints received were from the La Jolla area, coming from 55 different households.

Point Loma resident Martha Gonzalez said, “La Jolla is complaining the most because they’ve got the noise effects now; people in Point Loma, we’re exhausted. We see the planes fly very low, we don’t get any feedback (from airport officials) and we haven’t seen much action. I don’t know how to encourage them to fix this.”

The data from the months of April and May reflects a 32 percent decrease in the amount of complaints filed. However, Gillian Ackland of Bird Rock pointed out, “I’ve stopped making complaints, which is part of the 32 percent decrease. It’s not a decrease in noise, people are still trying to figure out what to do and how to get through,” referring to the new computer-based system to log complaints, Flight Tracker, which replaced Webtrack in April.

For Lower Hermosa resident Tony Stiegler, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) failed to conduct an “appropriate analysis” of the impacts the implementation of its operation system NextGen on people’s lives. “We need to petition the FAA to roll back this NextGen, and take these flights back offshore.”

Ackland agreed. “I’d like you to look at new procedures,” she said, “and see why are we not using the ocean (taking flights further west). It’s been used in San Francisco and it can certainly be used here.

Airnoise App

Airport Planning & Noise Mitigation program manager Sjohnna Knack spoke of the app created by ANAC subcommittee member Chris McCann, a resident of La Jolla. “Some of the data coming in from that app is not too useful to us,” she said. In a post-meeting e-mail to La Jolla Light, Knack said 30 percent of the complaints coming from the Airnoise app are blank and don’t identify an airplane because the app lacks a fill-in field for “reason” for the complaint.

As previously reported by the Light, the Airnoise app uses the same system as Flight Tracker to identify the airplane that’s generating discomfort for the user, and sends detailed information to the Airport Authority. On that topic, Knack said, “The complaints received from this app are inconsistent in providing accurate and relevant detail.”

La Jollan Beatriz Pardo, a user of the Airnoise button said, “I know that there are some glitches, however, those can be worked out and it would benefit ANAC if you worked together (with McCann) so people could let you know what’s happening.”

Although Airport staff repeatedly praised the new Flight Tracker system and the time they had freed to analyze data (rather than having to manually input complaints), members of the public and ANAC board members admitted to not being able to use Flight Tracker.

“As someone who grew up with computers, I haven’t been able to get my settings set up in Flight Tracker. How can an octogenarian from La Jolla do this?” Price asked.

Knack added that many noise complaints, some of which came from the Airnoise app, belonged to other airports. “We do reach out to Montgomery Field, we have a good point of contact… we (even) had a worry that military trainees were flying low over La Jolla.”

But, for Pardo, that’s a secondary concern. “Except for some empty spots (in my report), all the aircraft I cited came from San Diego Airport,” she said.

— Airport Noise Advisory Committee subcomittee next meets Wednesday, July 19 at San Diego Airport Authority offices in Liberty Station.