Burbank Airport commissioners tentatively narrowed the search for a new terminal site to two locations Monday as the Federal Aviation Administration pushed for immediate safety changes in the airport's operation.
The commissioners, acting on a report by a consulting firm, called for further investigation by the staff of two sites, one on land mostly owned by the Lockheed Corp. close to the existing terminal and another on the northwest side of the airport.
The latter choice is favored by the City of Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley homeowners and anti-noise groups. They argue that such a location would encourage airline pilots to take off toward the east, lessening aircraft noise over the San Fernando Valley by sending more flights over Glendale and Pasadena.
For years, the FAA has urged the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority to replace the 55-year-old terminal, which is too close to the runways to meet modern safety regulations.
Five years of planning to build a new terminal on Lockheed-owned land on the east side of the airport collapsed in December when the federal government ruled that the site was too close for security considerations to the "Skunk Works," where Lockheed works on secret military projects.
The commissioners decided on Monday not to consider two possible locations, one in the southwest corner of the airport, which the consultants said could not accommodate a terminal of the necessary size. The other rejected site is across Hollywood Way from the present entrance to the airport.
Call for Safety Plans
In a related development Monday, the commission received a letter from the FAA asking that it come up with a plan within 30 days to implement several safety changes that the FAA requested last month. These include construction of a new taxiway and conversion of hundreds of auto parking spaces to an "apron" area where jetliners can load and unload passengers farther from the runways.
The letter said the FAA is considering a rule against commercial-size aircraft taking off toward the east, and asked that airport authorities meanwhile warn pilots that such a rule is under consideration.
The FAA is concerned that planes taking off to the east pass too close to the terminal and to parked jetliners boarding and letting off passengers, an airport spokeswoman said. Fewer than 5% of commercial pilots now take off in that direction, however, preferring to use the southbound runway because it is longer and runs slightly downhill.
A meeting was scheduled for Wednesday between the airport commissioners and FAA officials to discuss the demands.
The issue of the airport's layout came to a head when the commissioners asked the FAA for an opinion on a request by United Airlines to begin service from Burbank in May, using Boeing 767 jetliners, which are larger than any passenger planes now using the airport.
Although the commissioners and the FAA have not yet ruled on the United proposal, the commissioners on Monday voted to allow United to begin construction of ticket counter space and other facilities, to be ready if the service is approved.