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Legislators push new airport curfew bill

Schiff, Sherman say it will be tough to pass, as FAA generally opposes airport curfews.

February 11, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@atimes.com

After years of failed efforts to impose a hard curfew on flights at Bob Hope Airport, local congressional representatives are pushing new legislation to bar planes from taking off or landing at Burbank between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) say it will be tough to pass the legislation, which is backed by Bob Hope Airport, the city of Burbank and residents concerned about aircraft noise.

“The Federal Aviation Administration has generally been hostile to airports having curfews,” Schiff said. “This is admittedly a heavy lift.”

Bob Hope Airport has had an informal curfew for nearly four decades, and the Van Nuys Airport has had similar flight restrictions since 1981.

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While commercial carriers honor the curfews, cargo carriers FedEx and United Parcel Service both fly into Bob Hope Airport four times a week at around 5 a.m.

In 2009, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority sought an exception to the regulations barring curfews, but the FAA rejected the application.

On Wednesday, Schiff, Sherman and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) announced they are seeking curfews for the Burbank and Van Nuys airports in stand-alone legislation and as part of the next FAA reauthorization act.

“We’re up against some powerful forces,” Sherman said.

The reauthorization bill is a wide-ranging measure governing FAA activities, but the last reauthorization bill expired in 2007, and Congress has failed to pass a new one because of a variety of aviation and funding disputes.

Stephen Alterman, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Cargo Airline Assn., said his group will continue to oppose the curfews.

He said a change would set a bad precedent and force the cargo firms to rely more on other regional airports and ground transportation.

“We would put new trucks on the road, creating more chaos on the streets, and probably not be able to get the freight there on time,” Alterman said.

He also contended that the noise problem in Burbank is not that severe.

“Three days a week, we don’t operate [in Burbank] at all. If that constitutes a noise problem, then every airport in the country has a noise problem,” he said.

Schiff rejected that assertion.

“You should have that conversation with him on a street under the flight path. It’s so loud you can’t hear yourself talk,” Schiff said.

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