United Airlines said Wednesday that it is planning to begin service from Burbank Airport in May, a move that leaders of San Fernando Valley homeowner groups challenged as an example of the airport's uncontrolled growth.
In November, homeowner associations lashed out at the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority when Trans World Airlines won approval to start service to St. Louis out of Burbank. The addition of United Airlines brings to nine the number of carriers operating at the airport.
"This is another case that shows the airport is growing without control," said Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino. "It's dishonest when we are told that noise will be decreased, and then you turn around and new flights are added."
Will Use 767s
United Airlines submitted an application Wednesday to the airport authority, seeking to begin two round trips daily from Burbank to Chicago on May 1. The airline will use Boeing 767s, categorized by the Federal Aviation Administration as "Stage 3" aircraft, the quietest rating.
Under federal law, airport officials said, the authority has no choice but to allow United to begin service at the airport because the airline meets noise requirements. The issue will be discussed when the authority meets Feb. 3.
The United flights will increase by 1.5 acres the "noise impact area," where the average noise level from aircraft is higher than 65 decibels, including a multiplying factor for night flights. The noise generated by the new flights will bring Burbank's noise impact area to about 128 acres, well within the 250-acre limit established by the authority, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.
'Good Neighbor' Goals
A spokesman for Chicago-based United Airlines said the airline is "committed to being a good neighbor" in Burbank.
The two round trips between Burbank and Chicago represent the airline's "initial service" at the Burbank airport, said Chuck Novak. He would not elaborate about the company's long-range plans.
Several representatives of homeowner groups complained that limitations on the noise impact area are misleading when it comes to aircraft noise.
"Adding flights does not decrease noise," said Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. "The airport tells us they are going to lower the noise. This action shows that there is no intent to lower noise. We know United doesn't intend to keep it to just two flights a day; they want their foot in the door and will gradually increase the number of flights."
The flights mark a return to the airport for United Airlines, which built the field in 1930 and operated it as United Air Terminal.
"It was the southern terminal of our service up and down the coast," Novak said. In December, 1940, United sold the airport to Lockheed Corp. for $1.5 million. Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena acquired it from Lockheed in 1978.