Huntington Beach to Study Lower Aircraft Noise Over the City

JESSICA RUIZ, Voice of OC

The Huntington Beach Civic Center.

Huntington Beach officials are moving to investigate the noise impacts from nearby Long Beach Airport.

Residents living under the flight path complained to city council members about late-night jet noise, low-flying aircrafts and pollution caused by air traffic.

“I can’t go [outside] anymore. It’s constant. It’s not just until 11 p.m., it’s until 1:30, 2:30 and [even] 3 a.m.,” said Ann Palmer, a Huntington Beach resident, told the council Monday, July 1 during public comment period of the biweekly city council meeting. “I urge you to look up some of these [jet pollution] health risks.”

Out of 19 public commenters, seven spoke to the council to urge them to do more about air traffic over the city. Residents cited Long Beach Airport, LAX and John Wayne Airport as reasons for increased noise.

Some residents said they have seen planes flying as low as 1,100 feet in Huntington Beach, and others commented that they are woken up by jet noise during late hours. The Long Beach Airport does not allow airlines to fly after 11 p.m., according to the airport’s fact sheet on the airport’s noise policy.

“I love Huntington Beach, but what has been happening over my house the past two years is insanity,” Andrea Pace, a Huntington Beach resident, told council. “I watch 1,000 planes a day come over my house, [they] do U-turns over my house, it’s very disruptive, it’s very low [and] it’s very unsafe. It is ridiculous.”

Council members unanimously agreed, with Mayor Erik Peterson absent for the vote, to fund a study looking at the flight paths of planes landing onto the runways at Long Beach Airport.

The analysis – called a glide slope study – will be carried out by aviation planning and development firm Landrum & Brown and will have professionals monitor current noise levels at locations chosen by the city. The six-month contract will cost the city $48,370.

According to city staff, a glide slope of 3-degrees is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approved path for planes and jets preparing to land. Councilman Patrick Brenden said that drafting a glide slope analysis will help the city require planes flying into Long Beach Airport to maintain a minimum altitude of 2,200 feet while flying over Huntington Beach.

“It means that planes will be even higher [going] across Huntington Beach. You get two benefits here, [the planes] are higher so the decibel impact is reduced slightly,” Brenden said. “More importantly, if [pilots follow] a 3 degree glide scope, they can basically throttle back as soon as they get to Huntington Beach and they can glide to the airport with no thrust or very little thrust.”

Aircraft following a 3 degree glide slope apply less power to engines before landing on their flight strip, according to a Landrum & Brown report presented at the July 1 meeting.

Ryan McMullan, a noise and environmental affairs officer for Long Beach Airport, said the airport receives the majority of their complaints from the Sea Cliff Country Club area in South Huntington.

“We’re kind of letting Huntington Beach lead the way on this [study], and when they’re requesting data [from] us we’re more than happy to provide it.” McMullan said over the phone Monday.

According to the staff report, the glide slope analysis must be submitted to the FAA before any changes can be made to Long Beach Airport arrivals. Brenden said holding a glide slope analysis is a step toward a solution that benefits not just residents, but Long Beach Airport and the FAA.

“With this solution that we are envisioning, the airlines win because they’re spending less fuel, the residents win because there’s less fuel and less emissions and the FAA is happy because [the planes are on] a glide slope that’s safe.” Brenden said.

Miranda Andrade is a Voice of OC reporting intern and can be reached at mandrade@voiceofoc.org.