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Informed Opinions on Today's Topics : Flight Curfew Question Still Up in the Air


In April, airport-noise opponents seized control of the Burbank City Council. The new council has drawn up conditions under which they would allow an expansion at Burbank Airport to replace the 14-gate, 163,000-square-foot terminal with a 19-gate, 465,000-square-foot facility. The chief demand is to make a current 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. voluntary flight curfew mandatory. But airport officials said that would hurt airlines, corporate and cargo flights and overnight financial delivery services. Federal Aviation Administration approval could take years.

Should there be a mandatory curfew on flights out of Burbank Airport?

Carl W. Raggio Jr., president of the Burbank Airport Authority:

"A mandatory curfew is a terribly difficult thing to conduct. . . . The timing of taking off at one place has to do with landing somewhere else. In the 1970s . . . the Supreme Court ruled no local municipality has the right to interfere with interstate commerce. Do we have the right to shut the freeway off at 10 p.m. in the evening and turn it on at 7 a.m.? . . . It may be simply a matter of just changing the kind of carriers. If we convince United to change carriers to 757s rather than 737s, they may be able to carry more people and then not have as many flights.

Ted McConkey, Burbank city councilman:

"Commercial carriers are flying as much under the voluntary curfew as they can. They are now flying out shortly after 6 a.m. and taking off in the evening after 10 p.m. The corporate jets and leased jets are pretty much flying 24 hours a day and it causes serious problems for people that are awakened. . . . We just think as a matter of course that a curfew would resolve much of the dispute and many of the objections people now have."

Philip Berlin, Burbank Airport commissioner:

"The short answer to your question is an emphatic yes as to whether there should be a curfew. . . . The stress that comes from flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. is very real. But for certain emergency situations, there is not a good reason to have planes flying in and out between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. . . . I am getting complaints on almost a daily basis."

John Ek, western regional director for state government affairs, Air Transport Assn., representing the nation's passenger and cargo carriers:

"From the airline industry's point of view, we're only talking about 13 out of 180 [scheduled daily] flights. Those flights are full and meeting passenger demand. For people flying out of Burbank Airport, it's our belief the Airport Authority should make it as convenient as possible. We don't think the mandatory curfew is necessary."

John Hazlet, vice president of Ameriflight Inc., which flies overnight financial deliveries out of Burbank Airport:

"The business we do exists because there is a substantial demand for it. The reason we are located in Burbank Airport is because of location. . . . Even a few minutes of extra road time can interfere with the computer process cutoffs at the other end. . . . The obvious solution is that the people that live around the airport and the people at the airport have to figure out how to work together. We were the first operation with small airplanes to develop specific noise-abatement procedures to minimize the impact of our flights at night. We and the airport have worked out flight patterns that the pilots are trained to follow."

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