Jet Noise Prompts Push to Shift Airplane Pathways

Federal officials confirmed that a small number of planes fly over Seal Beach when approaching local airports but not more than usual.

Commercial jets do fly over Seal Beach neighborhoods on their way into Long Beach Airport, Federal Aviation Administration officials confirmed this week. However, despite an increase in noise complaints, there hasn’t been an increase in jet traffic. According to the FAA, an average of 1.5 jets pass over Seal Beach every day since May.

“FAA radar data shows that 43 jets flew over Seal Beach in May 2011 while lining up for the LGB (Long Beach Airport) final. In September 2011, 47 jets flew over Seal Beach while lining up for the LGB final. This is not an appreciable change, and it’s an average of only 1.5 aircraft a day,” FAA Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor said by email. “Again, there has been absolutely no change in aircraft routes or altitudes into LGB.”
However, even just 1.5 flights per day overhead is still too many when the planes can be shifted slightly to avoid flying over Seal Beach homes, said Seal Beach City Councilwoman Ellery Deaton

“That is still too many flights overhead,” said Deaton. “If they go back and check two years ago, they’ll see an increase in flights. This has been a problem since before May.”
City officials have been lobbying Long Beach Airport and JetBlue officials to alter their planes’ arrival paths so that they no longer fly above residential neighborhoods in Seal Beach, and they plan to continue the campaign, said Deaton.
Residents are getting tired of airplane noise, added Deaton. On Saturday, Deaton received a noise complaint from a resident summarizing the problem in an email.

“I have noticed with alarming frequency that commercial airplanes are flying directly across old town on their flight in and out of Long Beach. We just experienced a loud and large airplane flying directly over our home on Third Street,” wrote the resident. “The Weapons Station is an easy nearby solution to this unnecessary noise disruption to our residential community.”
In fact, the city is asking airport officials to shift flights to come in over the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station and then along Westminster Boulevard, said Deaton.

“It’s not that much of a shift. It should be no big deal,” added Deaton.
Air traffic controllers determine pathways, but the approaches aren’t so precise as to be a perfect line, Gregor said.
Currently, there aren’t specific routes for planes coming into Long Beach Airport, Gregor said.

“There are two primary jet approaches to Runway 30 at Long Beach Airport. One is straight in to Runway 30 from the southeast. This is used by jets coming in from the south and east, and by all jets when there are low clouds or fog. The other is from out over the water. This is used by jets that are arriving primarily from the Bay Area in clear weather. These jets fly south over the ocean and then turn left to line up for final approach into LGB. These pilots are making visual approaches and are not flying specific routes. A small number of these jets fly over Seal Beach. Most make their turns further south.”

City officials are asking Seal Beach residents with noise complaints to call the Long Beach Airport noise complaint number at 562-570-2665 or the JetBlue customer relations number at 1-800-365-2470.

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