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Long Beach Airport to host June 25 public meeting over small aircraft noise, pollution

Residents can ask questions of federal regulators, airport staff and representatives of businesses who operate at Long Beach Airport.

Long Beach Airport to host June 25 public meeting over small aircraft noise, pollution
About 120 residents gathered on the south side of Long Beach Airport to protest increased general aviation flights Thursday, May 16, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Amid ongoing calls for more to be done about the noise and pollution caused by small aircraft activity at Long Beach Airport, federal regulators and the city are hosting an informational webinar next month.

The June 25 meeting will cover a variety of issues including flight school operations, historic and current general aviation activity at the airport, the city’s noise ordinance, the use of unleaded fuel by smaller planes operating in Long Beach and the Federal Aviation Administration’s management of the regional airspace.

Representatives from the airport, the FAA, airport business associations, pilots and plane owners are expected to be part of the information session, according to a city memo. The meeting is scheduled to run from 5 to 7 p.m.

The meeting was announced days before residents who are “fed up” with the constant noise from small aircraft activity at the airport rallied outside the facility to draw attention to a fight they’ve been in thick of for months to try and push the city to rein in general aviation activity.

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Residents in the most affected neighborhoods like Bixby Knolls, California Heights and others north of the airport, and nearest the runways typically used by smaller aircraft, have lodged tens of thousands of monthly complaints over the noise generated at the airport with nearly all being tied to general aviation flights.

However, of the 38,915 complaints logged in March, just 13 were found to be violations of the city’s noise ordinance, according to airport data.

While the city’s noise ordinance does allow the airport to place limits on commercial flights based on annual noise assessments, it doesn’t have the same power to limit smaller plane activity. Residents have said they want to make this a federal issue and have Congress act to change the aviation regulations that the airport cannot.

In an October memo to the City Council, Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said the FAA has authority over airspace and Long Beach’s status as a “federally obligated” airport would mean that it would have to pay back nearly $350 million, which the airport has used for improvements to its facilities if it were to break with federal law.

Still, residents have pushed for more action in recent months including for the use of unleaded aviation fuel to be increased by smaller planes. Leaded aviation fuel has been linked to developmental issues in children who live around airports where it’s used but Guidry said in the October memo that the airport doesn’t have the authority to ban its use.

Although the city has in recent months tried to incentivize the use of unleaded aviation fuel that has been approved for use in some smaller planes; so far, pilots have continued to use leaded fuel, according to airport data.

The meeting is also expected to cover the status of unleaded fuel at the airport and nationwide, according to the meeting announcement.

People attending the meeting will be allowed to ask questions through the chat feature, according to the announcement and the meeting is expected to be recorded and posted on YouTube.

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'We're fed up': More than 100 residents protest noise, pollution at Long Beach Airport

Brandon Richardson • May 16, 2024

Bixby Knolls is a relatively quiet neighborhood by Long Beach standards, but over the last few years the area’s residents have noted a rise in the incessant buzz …

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