The last of the "noisy" jetliners will leave Burbank Airport ahead of schedule this month, airport officials said Tuesday.
In a report released by the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, Continental Airlines announced that, effective March 1, it will eliminate the last 14 weekly flights of the older-generation, noisier aircraft at the airport.
Continental said it will replace older DC-9s on those flights with the McDonnell Douglas MD-80, a quieter version of the same plane.
At the same time, Continental will withdraw its quietest planes, Boeing 737-300s, from 14 weekly flights and replace them with MD-80s, to make its fleet uniform.
Airport officials estimate that the substitutions will lead to a 14-acre reduction in the residential area around the airport where average noise readings exceed the state standard. That area is now estimated to be 286 acres.
The shift to quieter planes will come a month ahead of the deadline imposed by the airport, which required airlines to upgrade their fleets by April 1 so that their aircraft meet the highest federal noise standard, called Stage 3.
Airport officials said they believe Burbank will be the first hub airport in the nation to be used only by commercial aircraft that comply with Stage 3 requirements.
"We're basically thrilled that we've reached this plateau," authority President Robert W. Garcin said.
Critics of airport noise were not as thrilled.
"Our position is that it doesn't really help much at all," said Richard Close, president of Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. and spokesman for the airport noise opponents. "The critical question is the number of flights, since the Stage 3 are just a little quieter than the Stage 2. We would rather have fewer flights at Stage 2 than what we have now."
Full compliance with Stage 3 rules does not mean that the airport is operating with the quietest mixture of aircraft available. Richard M. Vacar, manager of airport affairs, said the British-built BAE 146, for example, is about nine times quieter than the MD-80, even though both planes meet the federal noise rule.
Garcin said he foresees no effort by the airport to make airlines use only the quietest possible planes. Any effort by the authority on behalf of one Stage 3 aircraft over another could be interpreted as a violation of federal antitrust regulations, he said.