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LA Sues FAA Over Noise Complaints Sparked By New Flight Patterns Out Of Burbank Airport

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration due to shifting flight patterns out of Hollywood Burbank Airport which have sent planes flying low above neighborhoods in the southeast Fernando Valley, sparking a myriad of noise complaints over the past few years.

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that the lawsuit, filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, calls for the FAA to revert planes departing Burbank Airport back to their old flight patterns.

"We are urging the court to return these flights to the previous patterns," Feuer said at a news conference.

Back in March of 2017, the FAA rolled out the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), a satellite-based navigation system designed to promote efficiency after take-off. It was part of the FAA's Southern California Metroplex initiative to optimize airspace, Feuer said.

As part of NextGen, planes departing Burbank Airport began shifting to more southerly takeoff paths, flying over neighborhoods south of the 101 Freeway such as Studio City, Sherman Oaks and Encino.

The changes prompted thousands of noise complaints from residents who say the planes are flying too low over homes and schools.

"I literally woke up in May of 2018 to 225 planes over my home, sometimes two planes every 30 seconds, at least one plane every five minutes, all day and all night," said Vicky Herman, who has lived for 17 years in the same Sherman Oaks neighborhood.

Herman says it's hard for those who don't live in the area to fully understand the impact of the changes.

"For literally two years we've waited for this day," Herman said. "It's one of the worst things that a human being can possibly live through."

Feuer is also asking the FAA to publicly release information regarding the new flight tracks. The lawsuit alleges that the FAA made the changes without giving a public notice, taking public comment or conducting an environmental review. In March, the FAA said it would begin an environmental assessment in response to the complaints.

An FAA spokesman provided CBS2 Thursday with the following statement:

"As we have previously explained, we have not changed how we handle Burbank departures in the immediate airport environment. Aircraft today – as they have in the past – turn to a compass heading shortly after takeoff and continue to fly that heading until air traffic controllers instruct pilots to begin their turns to the west and north. The changes that we made in March 2017 take effect 11 nautical miles north, and 17 nautical miles northwest, of the airport.

"Some flights do fly slightly further southwest than they previously did before beginning their turns. That could be due to a number of factors including air traffic volume, air temperature, fleet mix, radio frequency congestion and air traffic control priorities."

In June, Feuer filed a similar lawsuit against the FAA over new flight patterns into L.A. International Airport which lead to noise complaints from residents in West Adams and Mid-City.

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