|LAX East Departures during Over-Ocean or Westerly Operations Report
The East Departures during Over-Ocean or Westerly Operations Report is a monthly summary of LAX aircraft operations that depart to the east while the airport is still conducting westerly departures between midnight and 6:30 a.m. This means that some aircraft request to depart over residences when most aircraft are still departing over the ocean. When asked why these east departures were occurring, the primary response from the airlines was that the tailwind was too great for the weight of the aircraft.
Aircraft will usually need to take off into the wind for lift and performance. At LAX, aircraft typically depart to the west due to the prevailing westerly wind conditions. However, on occasion when the land cools faster than the ocean, a slight offshore wind occurs blowing from east to west known as a tailwind condition. This slight tailwind condition does not require the airport to change the traffic flow to Easterly Operations, as would be the case with stronger offshore winds, but it is a safety factor for certain large departing aircraft and it is left up to the pilot to determine whether the tailwind component is too great for that type of aircraft at a given weight to depart safely to the west. If the pilot determines that the tailwind is too great, he or she will request an east take-off instead to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft.
The noise from these operations impacts a great number of residents to the east and south of LAX. In early 2013, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) completed a Federal Aviation Regulations Part 161 Study and submitted it to the FAA to obtain approval to restrict these east departures between midnight and 6:30 a.m. when LAX is still conducting westerly departures. On November 7, 2014, the FAA rendered a decision disapproving the proposed restriction as it did not meet all six statutory conditions. To learn more about the LAX Part 161 Study and the FAA’s decision, please visit this webpage: http://www.lawa.org/LAXPart161.aspx
In order to remind pilots of LAWA’s preferred noise abatement policy, LAWA is continuing to send notification letters to airlines that depart east during the time period from midnight and 6:30 a.m. to request them to fill out a form. The form requests specific information about each operation including the reason for the east departure, wind speed and direction, weight of the aircraft, and other relevant information. The intent of this voluntary measure is to discourage air carriers from departing east when possible.
LAWA is also continuing to produce the monthly reports, posted on this page, to document these operations that have a tremendous effect on numerous communities.