Latest San Diego Airport Noise Study Has a ‘Hole’ in It

by on March 24, 2021 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Our friends at the Point Loma Association have discovered something fishy in the latest noise study by the San Diego Airport. They found a “hole” in it, as in Jackson Hole. And our friends at PLA who publish their email newsletter were pretty disgusted with it all.

Let them explain.

From Point Loma Association:

The San Diego International Airport Draft Part 150 Report.

It is now available for review.

For people following the future of our airport, it’s a big deal. Part 150 is a noise study. (Yes. Yet another.) It’s been in the works for about three years. Read it here.

Thursday April 8, is a public workshop (5:00-6:30pm) and public hearing (6:30-8:30pm). Join the Zoom by registering here.

Comments will be accepted here until April 21st.

“The next ANAC (Airport Noise Advisory Committee) meeting will be held on April 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. This meeting will include a report on the Part 150 Study and the Draft Part 150 Report. ANAC members will participate by Zoom and the meeting will be live streamed on YouTube for anyone wishing to observe.”

No details so far on the live YouTube stream.

Wish we could say we’ve read the whole Draft Part 150 Report. We have not. We got as far as page #2 when we noticed something that made us suspicious of everything to follow.

Jackson Hole has a sweet airport. We’ve flown out late at night, praying the wing deicer was still working after idling forever on the tarmac…and lived to tell about it.
Jackson also has a beautiful archway.

But comparing San Diego to Jackson Hole seems like comparing apples to antlers. Anyone have a clue how part of Wyoming became part of our Part 150? Otherwise, we’re finished here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Gary Wonacott March 24, 2021 at 9:43 pm

After four years, hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, the Airport Authority solution to noise abatement rename Lindbergh Field after an airport with no noise problems. More seriously, in my opinion, one of the primary objectives of the Airport Authority the past couple years has been to eliminate the post 10 pm – 290 departure route and put one-hundred percent of the departures on PADRZ, which tracks directly over South Mission Beach. The Airport Authority threw La Jolla a bone to try to get them on board.

But, it now seems like this possibility is off of the table based on Sjohnna Knack’s comments at the end of the last 150 meeting (Sjohnna Knack is Airport Noise Abatement Office manager), leaving nothing accomplished.

What I have learned this past year only confirms what I suspected based on their previous actions. For example, they wanted their analyses to lead toward one solution, so they tweaked the input data, tracks, so that the results would support their proposed solution to the post 10 pm departures. They also left out an analysis that would have rejected the post 10 pm solution. They did not show analysis results that would have damaged their case. In effect, they cheated, and they got caught.

But, there is one solution that appears viable. They could replace the current 290 vector departure with a satellite navigation SID. This would virtually eliminate the aircraft departing to the west turning around for a destination to the east flying over noise sensitive areas in La Jolla and Pt. Loma. It would also decrease the dispersion into Mission Beach and south into Dog Beach.

If the input to the AEDT analyses was corrected, it might show that moving PADRZ south would not cause a size or location change to the 65 contour. But, the Noise Abatement Office has decided enough is enough, so they are shutting the Part 150 down. What better way to deal with criticism than to turn off the microphone.

The Airport Authority clearly violated the part 150 concept, since all of the recommendations identified initially evolved around finding ways to mitigate noise caused by the new NexGen arrival and departure tracks. There was never any attempt up front to identify ways to mitigate noise over Loma Portal, Pt. Loma and Ocean Beach. There are definitely grounds for a complaint to the FAA.

There was also a revelation during the course of the program. It was determined after reviewing the history of the 290 that it is not legal. It is not legal because there was no environmental assessment performed to determine if this change results in any significant noise increase in Mission Beach. It does and therefore, it needs to be reversed. This is the only way, all of the communities receive a fair share of the noise. Once the Part 150 is over, then we in Mission Beach need to look at this issue more closely.

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Avatar Jason S. March 26, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Is this rhetorical? I hope so. Obviously, the FAA inserted canned language used in every Part 150 study. They pulled the language used in the Jackson Hole Report and inserted it into the SAN airport 150 study response without changing the airport name. Human error.. not that big of a deal unless of course, you’ve never made an error before.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 26, 2021 at 3:07 pm

It’s more than a typo; it’s a sign of incompetence. Did they not read their own report? But when locals see that reference on page 2, they lose confidence in the rest of it.

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Avatar gary wonacott March 26, 2021 at 4:01 pm

This is a super compound error, given the number of people who either did or should have reviewed the document.

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Avatar Tom 2 March 28, 2021 at 8:36 pm

Gary, thanks for your comment informative of whats happening here. But you’re wrong about the airport in Jackson Hole. It has substantial noise problems, albeit very different than our airport’s. The approach at Jackson Hole has jets flying very low over National Park Service land which has substantial legal protection from that noise, and I believe the airport itself is on NPS land. The FAA likely will force through re-permitting of that airport, but they will have to finesse or ignore some laws in the process. The same issue is part of the planning hangup for the proposed new Las Vegas airport near Primm: loud low aircraft all day and night impacting Mojave National Preserve and perhaps Lake Mead NRA. NPS may well be able to stop that one before it gets built, unless Las Vegas can get Congress to change the law.

I suspect the report wasn’t written by FAA staff, but rather by private contractors who also had been working on the Jackson Hole 150 plan.

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Avatar Paul Webb March 30, 2021 at 5:10 pm

The FAA does not write Part 150 studies. They are conducted by airports, generally by their paid consultants.

The Jackson Hole paragraph is one of those slip-ups that occur because once a consultant finds language that the FAA will approve, the will continue to use it for all airports they study until the FAA employee reviewing the study finds something that he/she doesn’t like and wants replaced. It will be cut and pasted, and stupid mistakes like this will happen. Believe it or not, each individual assigned to a Part 150 study has a lot of leeway and can put their personal stamp on the study. The airport and its consultant will pretty much do anything to satisfy the FAA reviewer as they are the key to getting the study approved (and paid for by the FAA).

This mistake is embarrassing, but I can tell you that I have made similar mistakes over the course of my career. Egg on my face, yes. Meaningful in the larger scheme of things, no.

The airport proposal at Primm is a very interesting thing to study. You’d think that there is so much open space that siting an airport would be a no-brainer, but that is far from the case. In addition to very limiting environmental constraints (mesquite bosque habitat, desert tortoise habitat, proximity to federal recreation areas, etc.) the airspace around the Primm site is extremely constrained, primarily due to areas closed to civilian use by military airspace closures.

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