VNY Noise Management

Van Nuys Airport Part 161 Project

Project Background and Scope

LAWA continues to be an innovative leader in regional and global transportation by proactively addressing community and environmental issues and concerns. One issue of importance to the community surrounding Van Nuys Airport is aircraft noise. Starting in 2005 LAWA attempted to address this issue by embarking on simultaneous studies of potential noise-based operating restrictions at both Van Nuys Airport (VNY) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The process LAWA was required to follow to adopt such restrictions is mandated by provisions of federal law know as the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA), and Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 161 "Notice and Approval of Noise and Access Restrictions."

This was an historic endeavor, as LAWA is the first airport proprietor in the U.S. to embark on simultaneous Part 161 studies at two separate airports, and the VNY Part 161 Study was the first in the U.S. to address multiple restriction proposals at an airport.

Board of Airport Commissioners Actions Pertaining to the VNY Part 161 Study

LAWA´s Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) voted unanimously to approve three recommendations initiating the Part 161 studies.

  • On February 18, 2003, BOAC authorized the Executive Director to advertise and issue a Request for Proposals for consultant services to perform the studies.
  • On July 19, 2004, BOAC approved the LAWA staff recommendation to select Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. (HMMH) as the best qualified firm to conduct the studies, and authorized the Executive Director to negotiate a contract to perform the Part 161 studies for LAX and VNY.
  • On March 21, 2005, BOAC approved the award of the three year contract to HMMH for consulting services to conduct the two studies.
  • On April 17, 2006, BOAC re-adopted Board Resolution 17154, originally approved June 13, 1990, initiating a seven-year phase-out of Stage 2 aircraft based at VNY pursuant to regulations and statutes existing prior to passage of ANCA by Congress.
  • On July 17, 2006, BOAC accepted the advise of the Executive Director and directed LAWA to pursue the dual track method for phasing out Stage 2 aircraft from VNY in the shortest possible time by pursuing both the seven-year phaseout ordinance and an immediate ban via the Part 161 Study process.
  • On August 20, 2007, BOAC approved amendments to the Stage 2 Phaseout ordinance that updated the original implementation dates and adopted several exemptions regarding historic aircraft, aircraft maintenance, and a one-time exemption to allow a Stage 2 aircraft to permanently depart VNY after the aircraft's phaseout date.
  • On March 3, 2008, BOAC approved the first contract amendment with HMMH to continue the expanded VNY Part 161 Study and move the process of approving the VNY Stage 2 Phaseout ordinance forward.
  • On May 4, 2009, BOAC approved the VNY Stage 2  Phaseout Ordinance and sent it to City Council for adoption.   
  • To view the applicable Board agendas, Board reports, presentations, Board meeting minutes and Board Resolutions for the above mentioned meetings may be viewed on the Part 161 Stakeholder page by clicking here.

LAWA defined the scope of the VNY Part 161 Study based on comprehensive review of its existing noise management program at VNY :

The program includes noise abatement measures to minimize noise exposure, mitigation measures (such as sound insulation) to address incompatible land uses that cannot be eliminated through abatement, land use compatibility measures to prevent new incompatible uses, public outreach to maintain communication with interested parties, and implementation, monitoring, and enforcement measures to ensure the effectiveness of the program. More detailed information about the VNY noise management program is available here.

In August 2001, LAWA completed an "Airport Noise Compatibility Planning Study" for VNY to review the program´s status, comprehensiveness, and effectiveness. The study was conducted under the formal, but voluntary, Part 150 program that provides airports with guidance on technical, documentation, and public consultation procedures. Airports may submit Part 150 documentation to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for review, to obtain acceptance of the technical analyses and approval of "Noise Compatibility Program" measures. Approved measures may be eligible for federal funding assistance. LAWA submitted the required documentation to the FAA in August 2001, and a revised version that addressed FAA comments in January 2003. To view the FAA Airport Noise webpage click here.

The FAA found the Noise Exposure Maps (NEMs) in compliance on April 20, 2009 and issued a Record of Approval (ROA) for the NCP on October 16, 2009.

The scope of the VNY Part 161 Study was primarily defined in the VNY Part 150 Study :Seven of the Noise Control Measures ("NCM") proposed in the Part 150 require LAWA to conduct a Part 161 study, because they would restrict some aircraft certificated as "Stage 2 or 3" under the FAR Part 36 regulations, including:

1. Incentives/Disincentives in Rental Rates: Establish a set of incentives and disincentives through differential rental rates to encourage the greater use of quieter aircraft and less use of noisier aircraft at VNY. Rental rates for leases and tie downs would be correlated to the level of noise generated by the aircraft (NCM 29).

2. Incentives/Disincentives in Landing Fees: Establish a system of differential landing fees for aircraft using VNY with higher landing fees for noisier aircraft and lower landing fees for quieter aircraft (NCM 30).

3. Establish Fines for Violations of VNY Noise Abatement Policies: The Proposed Restriction would make the voluntary "Quiet Jet Departure" program mandatory and establish the following penalties: $500 for the third (3rd) violation; $1,000 for the fourth (4th) violation; and $2,000 for the fifth (5th) and subsequent violations. An operator who commits a sixth (6th) violation would be banned from using VNY (NCM 31).

4. Establish Maximum Daytime Noise Limits: Establish a maximum daytime noise limit for all aircraft operating at VNY of 77 dBA (NCM 32).

5. Establish a Limit on Stage 3 Jets: Establish a cap on the number of Stage 3 jets that may be based at VNY (NCM 33).

6. Expansion of the VNY Curfew: Amend the existing curfew ordinance to expand the hours of the current curfew to include all non-emergency jets and non-emergency helicopters as aircraft that would come under the provisions of the curfew during the hours of 10:00 pm to 7:00 am (NCM 34).

7. Establish a Cap or Phase-Out of Helicopters: Establish a cap on the number of, or a phase-out of helicopters from VNY (NCM 35).

Approval of the VNY Master Plan in early 2006 led to expansion of the Part 161 Study scope. The VNY Master Plan includes numerous Part 161 references. Most importantly, it adds two alternatives to the seven identified in the Part 150 Study:

8. Phase out Stage 2 aircraft from VNY in shortest possible time via the Part 161 process.

9. Extend the ending time of the existing VNY curfew from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekends and holidays

The VNY Master Plan called for analysis of two additional items: (1) disaggregation of the effect of the 77 dBA maximum daytime noise limit for Stage 2 and 3 jets and (2) identify the effects of proposed restrictions on historic planes.

The Part 161 Study, including the ultimate submission(s) to the FAA, were to address these nine elements in a "severable" fashion, to permit the FAA to review each proposed measure separately and so that any required FAA approval or disapproval will not affect the FAA´s considerations of the others. The proposed restrictions would be established through new or amended City Ordinances, regulations, lease conditions, or use agreements, with sanctions for noncompliance.

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