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Airport Fights Bill to Route More Takeoffs Over Glendale

June 11, 1987|T.W. McGARRY | Times Staff Writer

Burbank Airport commissioners agreed this week to send their chairman to Washington to lobby against congressional intervention in their dispute with Los Angeles over airport noise. They said Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City) misled Congress with "blatant lies" in his attempt to route more flights over Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena.

Commissioners of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority said Tuesday that they are being trapped between conflicting demands by Berman and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The authority called a special meeting to react to passage last week of an amendment, introduced at the request of Berman, to a House appropriations bill.

The amendment threatens to cut federal aid to the airport, bringing the clout of the federal budget into the years-long argument between the airport and Los Angeles neighbors and officials over noise from departing jetliners.

$40 Million in Grants

If the amendment remains in the public works appropriation bill, it will deny the airport authority about $40 million in grants to help build a new terminal unless the authority routes at least half the takeoffs to the east, over the three cities that own the airport.

Eastbound takeoffs are now banned by the FAA until completion of the new terminal, because the existing building is too close to the east-west runway.

Almost all airliners now take off to the south, and circle westward and northward over Los Angeles neighborhoods in the eastern San Fernando Valley.

The authority has long argued that it has no power over takeoff decisions, which are determined by individual pilots and FAA traffic controllers.

Berman, in asking members of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee to pass his amendment, said pilots and the FAA would retain the right to override the rule and make their own decisions based on technical and safety grounds. But he argued that the authority should be required to endorse a plan to "share the noise" because commissioners are politically committed to preserving neighborhoods in their own cities from noise, at the expense of Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Actually, the authority has refused to take a position on the share-the-noise proposal while an environmental impact study continues as part of an FAA noise-problem study.

Authority Chairman Robert W. Garcin blamed the congressional committee's action on "the distortions, inaccuracies and lies of Congressman Berman."

Commissioner Carl Meseck said Berman "blatantly lied to his colleagues at the last moment." Commissioner Brian Bowman called the amendment "folly."

Garcin said that, even if the authority had the power to do what Berman asks, it would be restrained by existing agreements with the federal, state and Los Angeles governments and by court rulings.

Airline pilots inevitably choose to take off to the south, the authority says, because the southbound runway is longer, slopes downhill and faces into the usual winds. In addition, planes taking off to the east face directly into the nearby Verdugo Mountains. The FAA forbids jetliners from taking off to the south and circling eastward--over Glendale and Pasadena--because of conflicts with Los Angeles International Airport traffic, Garcin said.

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