Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Has jet noise from Hawthorne Municipal Airport (KHHR) increased in the last 6 months?

Roxanne Ferebee has lived in North Redondo Beach with her husband Nick in the same home they've owned off Manhattan Beach Boulevard for the past 18 years. Six months ago, she began to notice airplanes flying overhead, something she had never paid much attention to before.

The noise, she said, is unbearable at times. One plane after another 20 minutes apart, mostly from the Hawthorne Municipal Airport, but sometimes from Jetblue flights coming out of Long Beach, continually pass overhead in what appear to be new flight patterns.

“It's a very piercing, whining sound,” said Ferebee of the jets.

She said the noise is so bad she hasn't slept well in months. She doesn't go outside in the yard as much anymore, and it's having an effect on her well-being. 

“I'm very disturbed by it. I'm stressed out. I'm anxious,” Ferebee said. “I hear them in the shower, washing the dishes. I can't watch TV because I can hear it over the TV.”

While complaints among her neighbors have not been widespread, enough residents have caught the attention of Councilmember Laura Emdee who asked City Attorney Mike Webb to look into whether something could be done.

"We are trying to figure out our viable option, but it's just too early to say,” Webb said.

In addition to potential legal action, Emdee said she was also speaking with Congressman Ted Lieu's office about remedies. 

The Federal Aviaition Administration sets flight path guidelines, such as not flying below 1,000 feet over residential areas. If pilots are violating those guidelines, then based on case law, the city might have a case, Webb explained. But if not, potential actions could be limited.

“The federal government limits what cities can do when it comes to airports. We're trying to review all of that,” Webb said.

In 2015, the city of Manhattan Beach examined a similar issue with flights passing low overhead after taking off at LAX. 

The changes to the flight pattern observed by Ferebee appear to coincide with the adoption of what’s known as FAA Nextgen radar with SoCal Metroplex, which is essentially a GPS-guided system for directing airplanes in crowded airspace.

The automated system may be directing planes on a turnaround after taking off at Hawthorne Airport then heading northbound. That turnaround happens to be just over Ferebee’s house.

"I'm going to hear it come over my house at about 1600 feet altitude. That's very low and very noisy,” said Ferebee, who’s become an expert on tracking flight path data on apps such as Flight Radar.

Flipping through her phone, she revealed photos of dozens of flights overhead.

“Sometimes the loop is large and I can watch the plane make its turn from every window of the house,” she said.

According to airport administrative analyst Guideo Fernandez, air traffic at Hawthorne Airport has actually decreased in recent years after a high of 104,000 flights in 2015. In 2016, there were 92,000 flights and in 2017 there were even fewer, Fernandez said.

The airport, opened in 1942 and owned by the city of Hawthorne and leased to a private company to operate, has instituted noise abatement methods such as altered recommended flight patterns. But once aircraft are off the ground, the airport has no control, Fernandez explained.

“Here and there we have a resident that might call, sometimes repeatedly," Guido said. "They are under the impression we can control the pilot and the aircraft, but we can't. It's like being out on the street to say you can't drive down this lane. It's a public right of way."

With Santa Monica airport reducing its runway length to disallow larger aircraft and other regional airports experiencing overcrowding, Ferebee fears that Hawthorne Airport only stands to get busier. It's already become a preferred take-off for private jets, he said. In addition, CalAir flight school, which relocated from Torrance Airport to Hawthorne two years ago, recently said it was expanding.

“At some point they are going to fly over someone's home, but do we just turn into an 18-lane 405 freeway over the house all of a sudden?” Ferebee asked. “I would like for them to stick with a flight path that's not disruptive to the community.”

Original article can be found here ➤ http://tbrnews.com

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