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Committee to Study Air-Traffic Mixture at Burbank Airport

September 18, 1986|DOUG SMITH | Times Staff Writer

The president of the Burbank Airport Authority appointed a committee of commissioners this week to examine safety at the airport in light of last month's collision between a commercial jetliner and a small plane over Cerritos.

Robert W. Garcin, president of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, said the three-member committee should undertake a broad examination of mixed use of Burbank Airport by commercial jet operations and unscheduled flights by private and corporate aircraft.

In spite of procedures aimed at keeping commercial jetliners separated from small planes, an Aeromexico DC-9 making a landing approach to Los Angeles International Airport and a Piper Cherokee Archer II collided and crashed, killing 67 people on the two planes and 14 on the ground on Aug. 31.

Response to Crash

Although Garcin did not mention the Cerritos crash in making the announcement Monday, he said in an interview later that his decision was a direct response to it.

He conceded that regulation of aircraft traffic is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration, but said he hoped that the committee could find ways for the airport to make its own safety rules, possibly by requiring planes based there to carry specific safety devices.

One of the commissioners appointed to the committee, Burbank businessman Leland Ayers, said he wants to examine the possibility of requiring smaller planes to be equipped with transponders and other advanced electronic safety equipment.

Besides Ayers, the committee consists of commissioners J. C. Schwarzenbach of Pasadena and Brian Bowman of Burbank. Bowman was recently appointed to replace Margie Gee, who was removed from the authority by the Burbank City Council.

All three committee members are pilots, Garcin said.

Broad Agenda

Garcin gave the committee no guidelines or limits, instructing the members to examine all aspects of "the interrelationship of general aviation with the commercial aviation that uses the airport."

General aviation includes all non-military planes that do not carry paying passengers on a regular schedule, including privately owned light planes and all corporate and charter aircraft.

There were about 25,000 commercial flights in or out of the airport in the first half of 1986 and almost 70,000 general aviation flights, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

The breadth of the mission Garcin gave the committee left the airport staff with the hope that the committee also may look into broader issues of airport use.

Must Relocate Terminal

Thomas E. Greer, director of airport operations, said he has urged formation of a committee to study possible conflicts between the needs of commercial aviation and general aviation in the pending redesign of the airport.

The airport is under FAA orders to relocate its 56-year-old terminal building, which is closer to the runways than FAA rules allow. Greer said the relocation could cause a squeeze on general aviation, which produces less revenue than commercial operations in proportion to its share of the airport's activity.

Greer said he hoped that, besides studying safety issues, the committee would take on the responsibility of reconsidering the resources devoted to general aviation at the airport. He made no specific suggestions for changes.

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