Guest Commentary / Opinion:
We have been reporting on the Federal Aviation Administration ‘s (FAA) NextGen Metroplex rollout and the resulting flight path and procedure impact studies commissioned by the San Diego Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) and the FAA. This is the latest update.
Aug. 30 TAC and CAC Meetings
The Technical and Citizen Advisory Committees for the Flight Path and Procedure Study considered community and consultant-driven proposals that merit further study, including computer-simulated noise modeling. Among the options advanced are: 1) routing departures further west offshore before turning north or south, and assessing the distance offshore before turns are permitted 2) using “fly by” versus “fly-over” waypoints to keep aircraft further south from La Jolla , and 3) adjusting the southbound coastal arrival path to intersect the 805/52 freeway intersection, rather than flying further south closer to La Jolla Shores and The Muirlands. Input was obtained from the airlines and TAC about the technical feasibility of the proposals, which led to recommendations to abandon those that are FAA non-starters for fly-ability and/or safety reasons.
The proposals advanced by Quiet Skies La Jolla and its engaged air-noise consultant are all still in the mix.
Next steps in CAC/TAC process
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) consultant collected comments and will return to the full committees by mid-October with more final recommendations for which alternatives to submit to noise modeling. Once those results are available, they will inform further discussions by mid-November. It is anticipated that several more CAC/TAC meetings will occur before the consultant submits recommendations to the SDCRAA, after which they will likely be more formally presented to the FAA. The recommendations coming out of the Flight Path and Procedure study will only affect nighttime noise issues, starting at 10 p.m. The FAA has absolute discretion to accept, modify or reject proposals, but as noted in last month’s column, the FAA has demonstrated a willingness to work with affected communities to mitigate NextGen-oriented noise. We remain cautiously optimistic.
Part 150 Study re: initial departure headings, and the 65 CNEL noise contour
The Part 150 Study will begin with a CAC meeting Oct. 25, and may also be a solution for daytime noise in La Jolla. This study will consider flight path and procedure modifications within the what is known as 65 CNEL noise contour, which is basically Ocean Beach and the areas immediately around the airport. One of the options under consideration is a new FAA procedure called ELSO, (Equivalent Lateral Spacing Operations), which allows controllers to space routes more closely together and safely clear aircraft for takeoff more efficiently.
Current air traffic rules require a 15-degree minimum angle between departure routes. With ELSO, controllers can reduce the minimum to 10 degrees between departure headings. This flexibility makes it possible for controllers to clear additional departures every hour, providing a benefit for airports, reduction in taxi time and fuel efficiencies. An ancillary advantage in San Diego would be noise mitigation in La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Point Loma , stemming from five degrees less required separation, measured from the runway, between aircraft on divergent paths.
Implementing ELSO, which is new and part of the NextGen roll out, will enable departing flights to take off more directly over the ocean, as opposed to turning earlier towards Point Loma to the south and La Jolla to the north. The Part 150 Study will likely take 18-24 months to unfolds toward a long-term solution and agreement.
Airport expansion Draft Environmental Impact statement
Quiet Skies La Jolla, Inc. (QSLJ) submitted a response to the SDCRAA’s Draft Environmental Impact Report addressing the announced $3 billion airport expansion, adding 11 gates, millions of square feet, and an increase of 6 million passengers per year, which is a 21 percent jump compared to 2017. The QSLJ response asks that further analysis be conducted on the anticipated noise impact of the airport expansion. Many other organizations and citizens also filed responses, which the SDCRAA will likely spend 12 months evaluating. QSLJ’s response can be found at quietskieslajolla.org/legal-proceedings
Maintenance on the runway will recommence Oct. 18, decreasing the number of flights later at night in this post-summer, non-peak period. The full schedule will resume before the holidays. As a correction to our last article, the Airport Noise Advisory Commission (ANAC) received a $12 million grant from the FAA to fund the Quieter Home Program, which pays for insulation and double pane windows in Point Loma and Ocean Beach, within the 65 CNEL noise contour. The funds were not for the Part 150 Flight Procedure Study, which was funded by the SDCRAA. FAA funds are forthcoming for the Part 150 Study.
Making noise complaints
Noise complaints have recently spiked, particularly from La Jolla and Point Loma. ANAC takes household complaints seriously and encourages complaints to be filed because they enable objective fact-based reporting to the FAA. Most complaints are filed via the AirNoise button that can be acquired and set up for a nominal fee, and free complaints can be filed at airnoise.io SDCRAA also has a Webtrak complaint system at webtrak.bkems.net/san and a smartphone-based app complaint at viewpoint-app.emsbk.com/san4 Whichever system you use, please register your complaints to make our collective voices heard on behalf of La Jolla. We appreciate the community’s strong support and engagement.