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Flight Classifications and the McDonnell Douglas MD-80

September 08, 1985

You recently published a letter from Nancy Willcox (Aug. 25) regarding John Wayne Airport and our MD-80.

McDonnell Douglas has been, and continues to be, a leader in producing quiet, neighbor-friendly aircraft. The MD-80 was the first commercial transport certified under the Federal Aviation Administration's stringent Stage III Aircraft Noise Regulations, and brought a new level of quiet to airline operations at John Wayne and hundreds of other airports throughout the country.

The basis of our objection to the proposed settlement is the establishment of sub-classes of noise regulation that disregard the community noise standards established by the FAA. We believe that creation of the Class AA category for John Wayne Airport promotes inefficient service and puts a premium on the use of smaller, lightly loaded aircraft in order to qualify for extra flights.

The plan encourages an eventual fleet of many small, short-range aircraft making numerous flights to accommodate passenger demand at John Wayne Airport. It discourages development of a fleet of efficient, larger aircraft like the MD-80, able to carry the needed traffic with far fewer flights.

Creating separate classes of operations within Stage III would demand that air carriers change aircraft fleets each time a small noise reduction is achieved by a new model. Such re-equipment would be extremely costly and inefficient to the operators, and the cost would have to be reflected in higher fares and reduced service.

When carrying equivalent loads over equivalent distances, there is only a small difference in takeoff noise between the MD-80 and the 737-300, a difference generally too small for airport neighbors to perceive. And, the MD-80 actually is quieter in airport approach.

Nevertheless, the Orange County action establishing Class A and Class AA categories does have the effect of discriminating against MD-80 operations. The agreement between the county and Newport Beach would make that discrimination even greater by doubling the number of Class AA flights permitted, beginning in 1990, while excluding any increase in the number of Class A flights.

This plan, which permits expansion with only AA classification aircraft and excludes flights of A classification aircraft could have a harmful affect on near-term MD-80 sales, while providing no meaningful reduction in noise.


Director of Communications

McDonnell Douglas Corp.

Long Beach

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