Thursday, January 17, 2013

Council appoints members to oversee airplane issue: John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA), Santa Ana, California

Some community members are saying the planes from John Wayne Airport are flying lower than they used to be.

Complaints that commercial planes are flying lower over Laguna more often than in the past have been dismissed by the Federal Aviation Administration, but city officials heard differently Tuesday night.

The City Council voted unanimously to appoint council members Steve Dicterow and Toni Iseman to work with the public to pressure FAA about the noise. Residents are urged to contact the FAA and to provide letters with specific instances of airplane noise impacts to the FAA and the city.

"FAA said [planes] are flying at the altitude they always have," resident Kerry Barriga said. "Not true."

Flights heading east out of John Wayne Airport take off out over the ocean and when they reach a certain altitude turn bsack over the coastline. The sooner they turn back toward land, the lower the altitude.

"Pilots will tell you they are turning earlier," Barriga said.

However, retired airline pilot Scott Roberts said pilots are only doing what they are told to do and he doesn't see a problem.

Residents from Canyon Acres to South Laguna told the council the problem is noise.

"You won't hear planes flying at 10,000 feet over Laguna," said Wolfram Blume, who flies a small plane out of John Wayne Airport. "At 4,000 feet, they will wake you up."

City staff, which tracks flights, said they have not seen a violation of the altitude limit at which the planes come over Laguna or in flight patterns.

"Well something changed," said Councilman Robert Whalen.

He said flights start at 7:04 a.m. out of JWA.

"You can set your clock by it and it continues boom, boom after that," Whalen said.

Iseman sponsored the agenda item after residents began calling and e-mailing her with complaints.

"It is evident from public testimony that there has been a change," Iseman said.

She and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson will ask for assistance from federal politicians when they attend the League of Cities meeting in Washington, D.C., in March. Dicterow was asked to contact Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Laguna will also continue to monitor the JWA settlement agreement negotiations with Newport Beach and the county, which would extend the current agreement, covering such items as curfew, passenger levels and the number of noise-regulated average daily departures.

The city will also show support for the Ontario Airport's effort to take local control from Los Angeles World Airports. Ontario officials would like to increase their flights, which might syphon off some flights from JWA.


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