John Wayne Airport

John Wayne Airport issues . . . as of November 2020
2021 commercial capacity allocations approved

Latest News:  General Aviation “Improvement” Program

Information related to the proposals for the General Aviation Improvement Program were posted for public review on July 9. They may be downloaded via Dropbox. The proposals were reviewed by the County’s Airport Commission on August 5, and selections are expected to be made by the Board of Supervisors on August 11. The City’s Aviation Committee discussed them on July 27 and the City Council on July 28. There is significant concern as to whether the improvements will comply with promises agreed to by the Supervisors in 2019. See the City’s GAIP page for details.

The latest news for JWA-watchers revolves around the so-called General Aviation “Improvement” Program:  a plan to modernize and possibly expand the mini-terminals on the tarmac that serve the small planes stationed at, and passing through, the airport, including unscheduled jet flights.  On May 7, 2019, the County Board of Supervisors considered several options available for the future of GA facilities at JWA and were poised to choose a variant of one on May 21. However, that was postponed to June 25, at which time a compromise plan was approved. The Board later authorized publication of a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking parties to construct and operate the contemplated facilities on land leased from the County. The Airport Commission reviewed the draft RFP on September 4 and the Supervisors approved it on September 10. Proposals were due by December 19 with the results of a preliminary evaluation to be released by March 13, 2020, at the latest. That release was delayed (and complicated by an April 2020 change to the RFP), with the proposals (and their scoring by a panel) finally posted on July 9. Following an August 5 review by their Airport Commission, the Supervisors, on August 11, directed County staff to pursue lease negotiations with ACI Jet, Clay Lacy Aviation and Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance. Following a closed session on August 25, approval of 35-year leases with ACI and Clay Lacy were slipped into the September 15 Superviors’ agenda as an urgent last-minute “supplemental item” even though the leases would not start until 2021. The two leases were unanimously approved. The third lease, with Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance, was approved separately, on the Board’s November 3 agenda.  See Recent Events, below.

Meanwhile, the City’s Aviation Committee meeting expected on September 28 has been canceled. It will not meet again until October 26 at the soonest. See Upcoming.

Project Overview
Upcoming
Recent Events
Settlement Agreement related events
News Coverage
Helpful Links
Environmental Documentation

More on the General Aviation “Improvement” Program

In addition to the following, see the City web page on the General Aviation Improvement Program.

  • General Aviation refers to planes, whether privately or commercially owned, that are unaffiliated with the major airlines and serviced by the mini-terminals on the tarmac known as “Fixed Base Operators” or “FBO’s”, and which do not sell tickets on a regular published schedule.
  • Unlike the scheduled airlines operating out of the main terminal on MacArthur, the “general aviation” activity is not subject to the Settlement Agreement, and hence not limited as to number of flights or hours of operation (other than a rather weak after-hours noise limit).
  • Under the rubric of a General Aviation Improvement Program, JWA staff has been exploring several possible alternatives for modernizing the GA facilities at JWA and correcting certain safety deficiencies in the present layout.
    • The options do not seem to be described other than in an Environmental Impact Report for the GAIP, the draft of which was posted for public review on September 20, 2018, with the deadline for comments originally set as November 6, but extended to November 21.
      • A public presentation about the EIR, with an opportunity for public comment on it, was provided at the JWA Administration building on September 26, 2918, at 5:00 p.m.
      • The City submitted a comment letter on November 14, and others later.
      • The County’s responses to all the comments , and any resulting changes to the Final EIR, were posted on April 9.
      • The intent of the eventual project appears to be to grant 30-year leases for private operators to develop portions of the airfield for GA use.
      • For each of several alternatives, the EIR lists projections of the amount of construction that would take place under them by 2026, and the resulting number and mix of stored aircraft and flight operations. It is not clear if these are hard limits on what would be allowed, or only estimates of what could happen. It is equally uncertain what the levels of activity under each might be in future years.
        • Under the County’s Alternative 1, favored by JWA staff, it is predicted the FBO’s would expand in size to a total of 85,360 square feet compared to the current 32,840 square feet, displacing many of the small piston-powered planes housed on the airfield.  Alternative 1 would even include customs facilities for international small-jet passengers.
        • Alternative 3, much preferred by SPON and the City of Newport Beach, would correct the safety violations (buildings too close to taxiways) while reducing the FBO facilities to 17,580 square feet
    • SPON’s (and the City’s) primary concern was the potential for Alternative 1 to significantly increase the number of unregulated business and “Uber in the sky” jets flying over Newport Beach, including during the “curfew” hours.
  • The JWA Airport Commission began its review of the proposals on April 17, 2019,  and after hearing more public testimony on May 1 reached a mixed conclusion, two of the Commissioners recommending “Alternative 1” and two recommending “Alternative 3.”  The group as a whole voted 3 to 1 to pause for 30 days while they explore the possibility of a variant of Alternative 3 providing better improvements for the piston plane owners than JWA staff had offered.
  • Despite the absence of an Airport Commission recommendation, JWA staff asked the County Board of Supervisors to certify the EIR and choose a project from among the alternatives studied on May 7 (agenda Item 20).
    • Supervisor Michelle Steel moved adoption of Alternative 3, but was outvoted 4:1.
    • The Supervisors appeared close to choosing a new alternative proposed by Supervisor Andrew Do, capping the number of GA turbo-jets allowed to be “based” at the airport to something close to the present number (65).
    • In the end they  decided to continue their decision until their next regular meeting on May 21.  However, the May 21 vote was postponed to June 25.
    • Two of the Supervisors, Bartlett and Wagner, were convinced that allowing more private jets to be based at the airport will reduce the number of jet overflights of Newport Beach — even though this seems to be contradicted by the EIR which predicts more jet operations with Alternative 1 than with Alternative 3 (despite the latter’s smaller number of based jets)
    • The SoCal Pilots Association recommended rejecting all the County staff alternatives, and instead concentrating on the amount of airport acreage reserved for “light GA” (piston-driven planes) versus GA jets, and keeping the former close to its current number.
  • In response to the SoCal Pilots recommendation, at the June 25, 2019 , meeting, Supervisor Steel offered an alternative, in which a substantial portion of the available acreage would be reserved for the smaller planes, as designated on her “yellow-green map”:
    Yellow-green map

    Supervisor Steel’s map, approved on June 25, 2019

    • This was approved by the full Board as part of Item 45 on June 25, 2019, along with a promise to keep the proportions of hangars of various sizes in the green area in the same ratios as they currently are for small planes.
  • The supervisors met again on September 10, 2019 , where, as Item 18, they approved County staff’s release of a Request For Proposals to the nine entities that had previously qualified as potential bidders. SPON and other community groups were concerned that the RFP did not include a clear commitment to following the yellow-green map and other promises made on June 25. JWA staff argued that doing anything more specific than designating areas for large and small (defined as a wingspan less than 49 feet or a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less) planes would violate federal grant agreements and non-discrimination clauses.
  • After much delay, certain aspects of the responses to the RFP, and their scoring by a supposedly impartial panel, were posted for public review on July 9, 2020.  The 2019 RFP had been modified in April 2020 by an “Addendum 16” which further weakened any requirement for compliance with the yellow-green map.
  • Seven companies responded to the RFP, with a total of nine proposals for the three facilities under consideration (a full-service FBO on the east side of the airport, another on the west side (the two yellow areas on the map) and a limited-service general aviation maintenance facility on the southwest side.
  • Following review by the County’s Airport Commission on August 5, 2020, the proposals went to the Board of Supervisors on August 11, where staff was directed to initiate negotiations with ACI Jet for the full-service on the east side of the airport along Campus, with Clay Lacy Aviation for the smaller “northwest” full-service FBO (near the control tower) , and with the incumbent, Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance for the limited service facility in the southwest area.
  • After a closed session discussion on August 25, approval of 35-leases with ACI and Clay Lacy has been slipped into to Supervisors’ September 15 agenda as “urgent” last-minute supplemental items. They were unanimously approved at that meeting.
  • To read the staff reports and view videos, see Upcoming and Recent Events below.
  • See also the News Coverage.
  • For more about what you can do to make your concerns known to the Supervisors, see the City web page about the General Aviation Improvement Program.

In addition to following the GAIP, the City Manager continues to oversee a three-pronged approach to reduce JWA impacts from the scheduled airlines — an approach that appears to have never been formally discussed, endorsed or budgeted by the full City Council (see October 10, 2017, entry under “Recent Events,” below).  The approach consists of promoting higher, quieter, less polluting flights through a combination  of: (1) collecting and analyzing technical data on existing versus potential noise levels, (2) lobbying legislators and air carriers in Washington, DC, and (3) placing public pressure for change on the air carriers through a coordinated public relations campaign.  Most recently, the City mailed to some 45,000 households a printed newsletter describing its JWA efforts, and conducted an on-line survey regarding resident knowledge of, and concerns about, the airport (see July 20, 2018, entry under “Recent Events,” below).

Project Overview:  Orange County’s John Wayne Airport has long been cited as one of the greatest continuing threats to the quality of life in Newport Beach. Although a convenient travel option for residents and businesses, it brings unwanted noise and pollution.

Why We Were Watching:  SPON’s concern with the airport dates almost from our organization’s inception and is memorialized by SPON’s role as a signatory to the 1985 Settlement Agreement, and each of its extensions.  Since 2002, many of SPON’s concerns have been championed by AirFair, a regional political action committee focused on containing JWA’s impacts.

Although there is perennial concern in the community about flight paths, SPON tends to stay away from issues whose solution will benefit one area at the expense of another, and focuses instead on efforts benefiting all residents:  seeking fewer, higher, quieter and less polluting flights.

SPON is particularly concerned about the as-yet-to-be-finalized General Aviation Improvement Program, which could significantly alter the mix and number of small jets, unregulated by the Settlement Agreement, flying out of the airport.

Upcoming

December 16 @ 2:00-3:00 pm – John Wayne Airport Quarterly Noise Meeting
JWA Eddie Martin Admin. Bldg. (3160 Airway Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626)

Recent Events

November 3 @ 9:30 am – Orange County Board of Supervisors
BOARD HEARING ROOM (333 W. Santa Ana Blvd/10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana)

  • Look for the agenda here
    • The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve commercial air carrier capacity allocations of operations at John Wayne Airport during calendar year 2021.
      • Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the “Million Annual Passengers” limit will be increasing from the current 10.8 to 11.8 and the number of allowed “Average Daily Departures” of the noisier “Class A” aircraft will increase from the current 85 to 95.
    • The Board is also, as part of the General Aviation Improvement Program, expected to approve a 30-year lease with Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance to operate the aircraft repair and storage area in the southwest portion of the airfield.
    • Due to the COVID-19-related slow-down it is not yet clear if the carriers will seek the maximum possible capacity (JWA incentivizes use of the airport by penalizing the carriers if they don’t use their full request).

October 26 @ 5:30 pm – Aviation Committee
Civic Center Community Room  (100 Civic Center Drive, adjacent to Council Chambers)

October 21 @ 5:00 pm – John Wayne Airport Commission
JWA Eddie Martin Admin. Bldg. (3160 Airway Avenue, Costa Mesa)

  • Agenda here
    • The Commission is expected to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the commercial air carrier capacity allocations of operations at John Wayne Airport for calendar year 2021.
      • Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the “Million Annual Passengers” limit will be increasing from the current 10.8 to 11.8 and the number of allowed “Average Daily Departures” of the noisier “Class A” aircraft will increase from the current 85 to 95.
      • Despite this, due to the COVID-19-related slow-down, and because JWA penalizes carriers if they don’t use their full request, it was expected the carriers would seek lower quotas than in 2020, but surprisingly they all appear to be seeking approval of capacity limits larger than the ones they didn’t fully use in 2020.
    • The Commission will also, as part of the General Aviation Improvement Program, be making a recommendation regarding a 30-year lease with Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance to operate the aircraft repair and storage area in the southwest portion of the airfield.
    • The Supervisors are expected to take action on both items on November 3.
  • September 28, 2020: The City’s expected Aviation Committee meeting was canceled.
  • September 16, 2020: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held at their headquarters building. Information disclosed included:
    • The County has ended its long-running contract with Landrum Brown as its noise consultant and has signed with HMMH to do the noise analysis necessary for preparing the quarterly reports. BridgeNet will continue to maintain and operate the monitors.
    • Access & Noise staff are working on the commercial carrier allocations for calendar year 2021, with a recommendation expected to go to the Airport Commission on October 21 and to the Supervisors on November 3.
    • JWA has waived for 2020 the penalties for commercial carriers not fully using their requested capacity allocations, but is not expected to waive the penalties in 2021.
    • As a result, despite the MAP cap jumping from 10.8 to 11.8 on January 1, requests are down, so the 11 carriers on the wait list were contacted. Only Spirit Airlines responded and they are in line for 3 Average Daily Departures next year, with flights to San Francisco and Las Vegas. Spirit is expected to fly the Airbus A320neo.
    • Commercial flights are thought to be running at a load factor of about 60% compared to 80% pre-COVID. It is assumed the lighter loads mean the flights are quieter, but it is not known by how much.
    • JSX has asked to continue its 945,000 passengers allocation out of the ACI FBO but been told the old ACI lease expires January 1 and the new one won’t allow “commercial” (i.e., scheduled) operations other than from the main terminal. So they will have to move.
  • September 15, 2020: In an action not expected until November, the Orange County Board of Supervisors discussed and voted to approve two of the three leases being negotiated for the General Aviation Improvement Program at John Wayne Airport (see agenda/report here in “Revisions-Supplemental Agenda Items”)
    • Up for approval were the leases for the “full service” Fixed Base Operators on the east and west sides of the airport, with ACI Jet and Clay Lacy Aviation
    • Not considered was the lease for the “limited service” (aircraft maintenance and storage) FBO on the west side
    • Approval of these two 35-year leases was added to the agenda subsequent to its initial posting as an “urgent” supplemental item even though the leases don’t start until January 1, 2021
  • August 24, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee held an entirely virtual meeting by Zoom. Topics included:
    • Updates on JWA General Aviation Improvement Program and federal legislation consultant’s activities
    • Presentation on noise consultant’s analysis of  John Wayne Airport Noise Abatement Departure Procedures
  • August 25 @ 9:30 am – Orange County Board of Supervisors
    BOARD HEARING ROOM (333 W. Santa Ana Blvd/10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana)

    • As a poorly-noticed supplemental Agenda Item SCS3  the Board met in closed session to discuss the FBO lease terms. This apparently also included a discussion of the City’s proposals for terms limiting operations. The legitimacy of discussing that matter in closed session is highly questionable, as the private discussion is supposed to be confined to the rent amount and methods of payment the Board would be willing to accept. In any event, the County Counsel’s “read out” claimed “no reportable action” was taken.
  • August 11 @ 9:30 am – Orange County Board of Supervisors
    BOARD HEARING ROOM (333 W. Santa Ana Blvd/10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana)

    • Agenda here  (see Item 11)
      • The Board of Supervisors selected ACI Jet, Clay Lacy Aviation and Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance as their preferred bidders for the General Aviation Improvement Program at John Wayne Airport.
      • County staff will then negotiate with the selected companies to develop contracts for them to replace and then privately operate (for the next several decades) the general aviation facilities at the airport.
  • August 5, 2020: The Orange County Aviation Commission met to review the bids for the General Aviation Improvement Program (see agenda, in particular Item 2, which is an advance copy of Item 11 on the County Supervisor’s August 11 agenda).
    • After listening to nearly three hours of written and oral public comments, the Commission voted to recommend the County Board of Supervisors select ACI Jet for the northeast FBO (along campus), Clay Lacy Aviation for the northwest FBO (near the control tower) and Jay’s Aircraft Maintenance for the limited service FBO on the west side of the airport.
  • July 28, 2020:  Item 17 on the City Council‘s agenda provided for discussion of the City’s response to the Fixed Base Operator proposals received by the County, and the Aviation Committee’s July 27 recommendation regarding them. 
  • July 27, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee held an entirely virtual meeting by Zoom. Topics included:
    • Introduction of Washington DC and flight path consultants
    • Recommendation regarding the City’s response to the GAIP RFP responses received by the Board of Supervisors
  • July 9, 2020: The GAIP proposals, and the scores they received, were posted to a Dropbox page.
  • June 17, 2020:  After a break due to COVID-19, JWA’s Quarterly Noise Meetings resumed.
  • March 23, 2020: The City Aviation Committee‘s meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
  • March 18, 2020: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
  • March 12, 2020: JWA staff emails City staff informing them that release of information about the General Aviation Improvement Program proposals, previously promised to be made public by March 13 at the latest, was being delayed (along with the meetings related to them) to a future date, as yet unknown.
  • February 24, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee meet in the Evelyn Hart Event Center at OASIS  (801 Narcissus Ave – Corona del Mar). Topics included:
      • 2020 Community Outreach Plan
      • Aviation Committee Priorities for Calendar Year 2020
      • Subcommittee reports
  • January 27, 2020: The City’s Aviation Committee met in the Civic Center Community Room. Topics included:
      • Report on information presented at Jan. 25 Council Planning Session
      • Adoption of 2020 committee priorities
      • JWA update, including posting of detailed noise information
  • December 19, 2019 @ 2:00 pm – GAIP proposals due
    • According the timeline on page 4 of the RFP, those seeking to lease, build and operate the new general aviation facilities must submit their responses to the RFP by this date.
    • The timeline further specifies a 2-1/2 month evaluation period during which the proposals will be scored by a private panel, but during which the public may not be allowed to see the proposals.  The Airport Commission is expected to see the results in March 2020, and the County Supervisors in April.  Leases may be awarded in June 2020.
  • December 18 @ 2:00-3:00 pm – John Wayne Airport Quarterly Noise Meeting
    JWA Eddie Martin Admin. Bldg. (3160 Airway Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626)

  • November 18, 2019: The City’s Aviation Committee met in the Civic Center Community Room (agenda here). It discussed:
    • Overview of City Council Policy A-17
    • Recap of Washington D.C. trip
    • Reports from subcommittees
  • October 28, 2019: The City’s Aviation Committee met in the Civic Center Community Room  (agenda here). It discussed:
    • History of Next Gen at John Wayne Airport
    • Developing a Vision Statement for Aviation Committee
    • Altitude Study
    • Plans for Washington D.C. Advocacy Trip
    • Reports from subcommittees on government relations and technical matters/departures
  • September 18, 2019: JWA staff conducted its state-required Quarterly Noise Meeting in the airport administration building with just two members of the public in attendance.
    • The Noise Abatement Report for the second quarter of 2019 was available in advance of the meeting.
    • Staff announced the launch of the new Viewpoint noise complaint system had been delayed but should start in the next week.
    • They also announced the Delta Airlines had replaced its Boeing 717’s flying to Salt Lake City with the Airbus A220, which is substantially quieter on takeoff.
  • September 10, 2019:The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Request for Proposals from private vendors seeking to lease, develop and operate airport property in furtherance of the General Aviation Improvement Program.  See agenda here on which this was Item 18 (see video).
      • Earlier on the agenda, as Item 4 on the Consent Calendar, the Board approved JWA staff’s passenger allocations to the commercial carriers for the 2020 calendar year.
  • September 4, 2019: The John Wayne Airport Commission reviewed the Request for Proposals to be issued seeking private parties to lease airport property to develop and operate the controversial General Aviation Improvement Program. See agenda here, on which this was Item 2.
  • August 26, 2019:  The City’s newly-constituted Aviation Committee held its second meeting (agenda here). It heard a presentation by City Attorney Aaron Harp about the 1985 John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement, including its history and present provisions, as well as the General Aviation Noise Ordinance and noise monitoring.  The Committee also received an update on the status of the John Wayne Airport General Aviation Improvement Program (GAIP), and created a four-member sub-committee to meet privately and report back to the main committee about it.
  • July 22, 2019:  The City’s newly-constituted Aviation Committee met for the first time.  Only two of the citizen members — Bonnie O’Neil and Tom Meng — were hold-overs from the previous committee, both having served since 2012.  The members received a binder containing documents relevant to the City’s relationship with JWA (see under “Committee Member Notebook” at preceding link), and heard a presentation about the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) from Bill O’Connor, of Cooley LLP, an outside attorney consulting with the City. The minutes, including as an attachment the slides from his presentation, can be found here.
  • June 25, 2019:  At a well-attended meeting (agenda here), the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a compromise General Aviation Improvement Program project.
      • The matter appeared as Item 45 (see video).
      • The “winning” proposal was advanced by Supervisor Michelle Steel.
      • Unlike the compromise proposed by Supervisor Do on May 7, it does not appear to set any cap on the number of jets that can be based at JWA, and no estimate of the number it could allow was provided.
      • See City’s description here.
  • June 20, 2019:  JWA staff conducted its state-required Quarterly Noise Meeting in the airport administration building with just four members of the public in attendance.
    • The Noise Office is expected to begin posting detailed monthly noise spreadsheets detailing each noise event at each monitor starting with the month on July 2019 (to be posted in late August).
    • It is also expected to launch its new “ViewPoint” self-reporting noise complaint system in July by which members of the public will enter information about the complaint directly into the system via a desktop web form or phone application.
  • June 10, 2019:  The City’s Aviation Committee began its 4:30 pm meeting (agenda here) in the Friends Room of the Central Library.  However, in the midst of public comments, before any of the scheduled agenda items were heard, a gentleman in the audience who had previously spoken suffered an apparent heart attack and the remainder of the meeting was cancelled so the room could be cleared to allow paramedics to assist him.  It is not clear if the meeting will be rescheduled.
  • May 28, 2019:  As Item 14 on the consent calendar portion of its agenda, the Newport Beach City Council was expected to authorize City officials to support modified proposals for the General Aviation Improvement Program, but they decided to wait until they had more information.
  • May 21, 2019: A continued consideration of the certification of the EIR for the General Aviation Improvement Program and the selection of a project was listed as Item S74A on the supplemental agenda for the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ meeting. However, the item was continued (again), to June 25.
  • May 7, 2019:  The Orange County Board of Supervisors met before an overflow audience to consider certifying the EIR for the General Aviation Improvement Program and approving one of the development alternatives.
      • This was noticed as Item 20 on the agenda.
      • The revised staff report, providing the Supervisors with resolutions for approving each of the possible alternatives (not just Alternative 1), can be found under Item 20 in the 1,148 page PDF supplement to the agenda.
      • After several hours of public testimony and discussion, the Board rejected Supervisor Steel’s motion to adopt Alternative 3.
      • The Board then appeared poised to adopt a proposal by Supervisor Do, similar to Alternative 1, but reducing the number of full-service FBO’s from 3 to 2, capping the number GA turbo-jets that could be based at the airport at 65, and deleting the proposed GA customs facility.
      • In the end, they decided to postpone the vote until their next regular meeting on May 21.
      • The video of the May 7 meeting, with part of Item 20 in the morning and part in the afternoon, can be viewed here.
      • See also the News Coverage.
  • May 1, 2019:  The County Airport Commission held its second meeting regarding the General Aviation Improvement Program (Item 3 on agenda here).  After hearing additional public testimony from an overflow crowd, Chair John Clarey and Commissioner David Bailey decided to recommend “Alternative 1,” which would increase the quantity of GA facilities to 85,360 square feet from its present 32,840. Vice Chair Lee Lowrey and Commissioner Bruce Junor recommended “Alternative 3,” which would reduce the facilities to 17,280 square feet (the alternative much preferred by SPON and the Newport Beach City Council).  Being unable to make a choice between those, the Commission voted 3 to 1 (with Commissioner Angie Cano absent) to continue the item for 30 days so airport staff and the Commission could explore possible changes to Alternative 3 to improve service for light general aviation (the small propeller planes).  However, the item remains of the Board of Supervisors’ May 7 agenda for possible action without a recommendation from the Airport Commission.  See City News Splash.
  • April 23, 2019: The Orange County Board of Supervisors was expected to make a decision on the General Aviation Improvement Program, which was listed as agenda Item 35.  However, the item was postponed to the May 7 meeting.
  • April 17, 2019:  As Item 1 at a well-attended special 5:30 pm meeting (see agenda here — scroll down to bottom), the County Airport Commission heard a staff presentation and public testimony regarding the EIR and project alternatives for the General Aviation Improvement Program A recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the matter was postponed to the Commission’s next regular meeting on May 1.
  • April 15, 2019: The  City’s Council-appointed Aviation Committee met in the  Friends Room at the Central Library to hear about various airport issues, primarily the proposed JWA General Aviation Improvement Program.  See agenda here.
  • April 9, 2019:  JWA posted responses to some 300 comment letters it received regarding the General Aviation Improvement Program EIR.  The announcement outlined next steps and future hearing dates.
  • April 6, 2019:  An overflow audience turned out for a two-hour JWA Town Hall in the City’s Community Room hosted by County Supervisor Michelle Steel and Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon (see City video here — there is also a privately produced video of the entire meeting from Barry Friendland of Costa Mesa Briefs, accompanied by a video of interviews with attendees). The County’s PowerPoint presentation has been posted here.
  • March 26, 2019:  As Item 5 on its “consent calendar,” the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2019-26 amending the structure of the City’s Aviation Committee.  The size of the group was reduced from 24 to 15 members starting July 1.  The changes were the result of an evaluation by a Council Committee appointed on February 12.
  • March 20, 2019:   JWA staff conducted its state-required Quarterly Noise Meeting in the airport administration building.
    • The Noise Abatement Reports for the last quarter of 2018 (normally due by March 16 at the latest) has been delayed by the 30,000 noise complaints received during the quarter, largely as the result of community members with automated aviation noise reporting “clickers.”  The report is expected to be posted in a few weeks.
    • JWA will be instituting a more automated noise complaint logging system over the next few months.  Citizens will be required to enter information directly into the system through either desktop or mobile phone “app” or a “telephone tree,” rather than relaying the information through JWA staff.
    • As part of the contract, JWA will also be posting detailed monthly noise spreadsheets, listing for public viewing all the noise events observed at each noise monitor during the prior month.  These will be produced by the same vendor, and therefore very similar to, those posted by the Metropolitan Washington (DC) Airports.
  • March 4, 2019: The City Aviation Committee met.  It voted to recommend General Aviation Improvement Program Alternative 3 to the City Council, and to downsize the Committee from 23 members to 15 by eliminating the 7 district alternates and consolidating the SPON and AirFair delegates into a single position.
  • February 12, 2019:  As Item 7 on its “consent calendar,” the City Council adopted Resolution No. 2019-12, creating a committee to consider changes to the structure and role of the City’s Aviation Committee.  Council members Dixon, Herdman and Muldoon were appointed to conduct the evaluation.
  • December 19, 2018: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held at JWA headquarters
  • November 21, 2018:  was the deadline for submitting comments on the General Aviation Improvement Program EIR.
    • See Notice of Availability for details, and  Notice of Extension of deadline for comments.
    • JWA is required to respond in writing to comments received by the deadline.
    • Comments can continue to be submitted after the November 21 deadline, but JWA does not have to respond to those.
  • November 14, 2018: The City submitted a comment letter on the General Aviation Improvement Program Draft Environmental Impact Report (see September 26, 2018, below).
  • November 5, 2018: The City Aviation Committee met in the Central Library’s Friends Room to discuss John Wayne Airport issues.  The agenda is here. This was the first meeting since June 18, and the next meeting is expected in February, on a date yet to be announced.
  • September 26, 2018: JWA provided a public presentation about, and opportunity for the public to comment on, the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed General Aviation Improvement Program.
    • The proposal is likely to change the future mix and number of non-scheduled jets taking off over Newport Beach.
  • September 25, 2018: As Item 16 on its agenda, the City Council approved adding $30,000 to contract C-7292-2 with HMMH (see February 18, 2018, below).  This request to pay for additional analysis that had been performed by HMMH in studying the effects of alternative departure paths and procedures is the first time one of the airport-related contracts appeared publicly before the Council for approval, presumably because the new total contract cost exceeded the City Manager’s signing authority.  The payment for work already performed appears also to have been granted in violation of Article XI, Section 10 of the California Constitution.  The results of the departure studies have not been publicly released.
  • September 20 , 2018:  JWA posts Notice of Availability of draft Environmental Impact Report regarding their proposed General Aviation Improvement Program.  The GAIP offers several alternatives for reconfiguring the layout of planes and hangars on the airport property, in part to accommodate a larger number of unscheduled jet flights, unregulated by the Settlement Agreement.
  • September 12 , 2018:  JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting held at JWA headquarters with five members of the public from Tustin in attendance in addition to five from Newport Beach. Those living under the arrival path in Tustin were particularly vocal about the increased impacts of aircraft noise on their quality of life.
  • July 20, 2018:  City posts a News Splash announcing the mailing of a Community Newsletter regarding JWA issues, as well as an online survey polling recipients on a number of questions.
  • June 18, 2018: -The City’s Aviation Committee held one of its rare meetings in the Civic Center Community Room adjacent to the Council Chambers.  The agenda appeared to indicate the Committee would be hearing a report from the City’s consultant, HMMH, on the results of their analysis of the pros and cons of various departure procedures. This turned out to be only an update from outgoing City Manager Dave Kiff on the status of HMMH’s work on the contact items.  He said HMMH had completed its study of noise data from departures flown by Alaska, American, United and Southwest Airlines from October through January and had compared the data to an FAA noise model.  They would next be asking if any of the carriers were doing things that could be applied beneficially to the others, with a conclusion about that due by the end of July.  Finally, they would be asked if there is a beneficial new and currently unused procedure that could be suggested to the FAA as a replacement for one of two alternatives currently approved.  That conclusion is expected in August or September, to be followed by the “big ask” to the FAA and carriers to adopt it.  In the preceding, “departure procedure” refers not to the flight path or ground track, but rather to the height and speed with which the aircraft ascends over the ground track.
  • June 13, 2018:  JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting held at JWA headquarters with just four members of the public in attendance.  JWA staff called attention to the Metropolitan Washington (DC) Airports Authority’s noise reporting, which, since 2015, has posted for the public in spreadsheet form information from the noise sensors at the Reagan National and Dulles International Airports.  These provide both monthly summaries, giving various statistical measures (such as minimum, maximum, and mode), and detailed listings of every sound event at every monitor, identified by aircraft or as a “community” (non-aircraft) event, along with the background noise levels observed between events.  Equally importantly, the DC airports measure events with lower loudness levels and shorter durations than other airports (including JWA), which is important if they are to continue to accurately gauge aircraft impacts as planes become quieter but more numerous (JWA logs and reports only events that exceed 65 dB for 10 to 60 seconds).
  • June 13, 2018:  City posts HMMH report on side-by-side noise testing (conducted December 2017 through January 2018) on the Aviation Committee’s Special Reports page. HMMH took readings at two JWA noise monitor locations, and at three locations not normally monitored by JWA.
  • May 22, 2018:  As Item 15 on its agenda, the City Council approved an extension of its contract for airport consulting with former Council member and Mayor Tom Edwards.
  • May 4, 2018:  On short notice, the City held a Friday Aviation Forum in the City Council Chambers at which the delegation from the recent Washington, DC, trip debriefed the public on the results of their effort.  The City has posted the PowerPoint shown by the City Manager.
  • April 24-27, 2018:  A delegation consisting of City Manager Dave Kiff, Deputy City Manager/Public Information Manager Tara Finnigan, and Council Members Herdman, Dixon and Muldoon flew to Washington, D.C., to introduce themselves to the City’s lobbyist at Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney (see January 23, below), and visit various congressional and FAA offices.  It is unclear who appointed the delegation, or who authorized the travel, as there was no Council or Aviation Committee discussion of it.
  • April 19, 2018:  City Manager signs contract C-7391-1 with Probolsky Research to convene two 90-minute focus groups of 12 or more people each regarding outreach to FAA and air carriers relative to quieter departure paths.
  • March 29, 2018:  First “STAYY” departure using the FAA-approved curving path over the Upper Bay that the City had long lobbied for.  Preliminary results were provided in the City’s April 2018 Monthly Report.
  • March 14, 2018:  The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held at JWA headquarters.
  • March 9, 2018:  The City held a Friday Airport Forum in the City Council Chambers.  As the third of three presentations from them, the JWA Access and Noise Office explained the process by which the limited commercial capacity at JWA is assigned, each year, to the various carriers under the Access Plan.
  • February 12, 2018:  The City Aviation Committee met (agenda), with Councilman Herdman (Chair) out sick and the JWA personnel on holiday. Results from the City’s independent noise monitoring (see December 1, below) are not yet available, but may be by the next meeting, likely in April. On the same day, the City Manager signed contract C-7330-1 with Dynamic Strategy Group for public relations/outreach assistance in approaching and influencing air carriers.
  • February 9, 2018:  A Friday Airport Forum was held with JWA Access and Noise Office staff providing the second of three presentations from them, this one about the Settlement Agreement and Access Plan.
  • February 8, 2018: City Manager signs contract C-7297-2 with HMMH for updated study of departure pattern alternatives (promised as part of Resolution 2017-63 from September 26; see also December 1, below).
  • January 26, 2018:  A Friday Airport Forum was held with JWA Access and Noise Office staff giving a “Noise 101” presentation detailing how aircraft noise is monitored and reported.
  • January 23, 2018:  City Manager Dave Kiff posted a Letter to the Community regarding airport issues.  On the same day, he signed contract C-7390-1 with Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney for lobbying the FAA and airlines(?) in Washington, D.C. (see, request #1 from October 10, below)
  • January 19, 2018:  US Department of Justice signs agreement concluding City’s lawsuit against the FAA’s NextGen/Metroplex Project.  The agreement has been posted and can be viewed as City Contract No. C-7291-1.  It encourages trials of an “S-curve” departure, and promises City and public review of any future changes to flight paths.
  • January 9, 2018:  The City has announced a tentative agreement with the FAA resulting from mediation over the FAA’s handling of their Environmental Impact Statement regarding the new GPS-controlled NextGen flight paths.  The settlement (the text of which has not yet been released) purportedly involves a number of deal points favorable to residents, as detailed in the City announcement.  SPON was supposedly invited to participate in the mediation, but to the best of its knowledge was not informed of that opportunity.
  • December 13, 2017: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held in a new format, with Noise Office staff giving PowerPoint presentations to the public in attendance on various topics of interest, followed by an open question and answer period.
  • December 11, 2017: the City Aviation Committee met. The announced topics (see agenda) included possible implementation of a “Fly Quiet” program, encouraging airlines to reduce noise impacts, although nothing concrete appeared to decided regarding that.
  • December 8, 2017: Aviation Committee Chair Jeff Herdman and City Manager Dave Kiff held their second informal community get-together regarding JWA issues in the City Council Chambers from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Mr. Herdman collected sets of four questions from members of the audience and Mr. Kiff attempted to answer them.
  • December 1, 2017:  City Manager signs contract C-7297-1 with Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Inc. (“HMMH“) for independent monitoring and verification of aircraft noise levels (see October 10, request #2).
  • November 30, 2017: Council member Diane Dixon held a town hall on NexGen issues for Peninsula residents at Marina Park from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • The City’s online calendar has twice listed a “Community Forum on John Wayne Airport,” apparently featuring work done by AWG.  It was first listed for November 15 and then for December 6.  Both times the listing disappeared without the event happening.
  • November 17, 2017: Council member (and Aviation Committee Chair) Jeff Herdman and City Manager Dave Kiff held the first of planned periodic opportunities for informal discussions about airport issues. The meeting, as will apparently be the pattern, was held in the City Council Chambers from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.
  • October 30, 2017: The City’s Aviation Committee held one of its rare meetings. There was some talk of the City instituting a “Fly Quiet” incentive program, but little concrete happened.
  • October 10, 2017: Under Item XIII, the City Council unanimously directed City staff to return with future agenda items regarding two matters proposed by Mayor Muldoon: (1) “Seeking the assistance of a federal advocate to work with the City on FAA and related aviation matters, including communication with major air carriers,” and (2) “Supporting additional review and verification of data accuracy from the County of Orange’s seven noise monitoring stations on the JWA departure corridors.”  Those items do not appear to have ever been placed on a Council agenda, yet contracts for executing them were signed by the City Manager on December 1, 2017, and January 23, 2018 (see those dates in this list).
  • October 6, 2017:  Following on the September 15 event, AirFair hosted a second, even better attended public forum. Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Council member Jeff Herdman, City Manager Dave Kiff and City Attorney Aaron Harp presented and fielded questions.
  • September 26, 2017: the City Council held a public study session at 4:00 p.m. regarding the City’s response to the new departure procedures at JWA, and at its evening meeting passed Resolution 2017-63 endorsing certain new and renewed actions with respect to the airport. Mayor Muldoon additionally (under Item XII) “Requested a future agenda item to hire a Washington DC lobbyist to help the City and Airport Consultant Tom Edwards work with the FAA and County; enter into direct communications with the major air carriers; and come up with a method to track sound levels to confirm that decibel readers are accurate. “
  • September 15, 2017:  AirFair hosted on a public forum on JWA issues at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in Eastbluff.


Settlement Agreement related events

  • In 2018, JWA again approached SPON inquiring whether its position regarding the commuter aircraft definition had changed, but seemed less aggressive about demanding an answer.
  • In 2017, JWA approached SPON and the other signatories with a second request to amend the recently-extended Settlement Agreement, this time to increase the allowed number of seats on “commuter” aircraft from 70 to 76.  Although the change seemed very small, SPON was not convinced of the airport’s claim that this would reduce noise, and was concerned that it would instead lead to the present Settlement Agreement limited number of passengers being placed on a larger number of planes, each as noisy as the present ones carrying more.  In addition, SPON was concerned about a rumored threat by Southwest Airlines to attempt to invalidate the Agreement in its entirety if the change was made. The airport tabled the matter after SPON requested indemnification, but it is likely to return in 2018.
  • In 2015, SPON reluctantly agreed to minor increases in the noise levels allowed by the Settlement Agreement at the airport’s seven automated monitoring stations in Newport Beach, supposedly necessitated by the installation of newer, “more sensitive” microphones.
  • In 2014, SPON completed negotiation of the second of two extensions of the historic JWA Settlement Agreement.  This one limits commercial jet operations through 2030.  The previous extension, signed in 2003, would have expired in 2015.
  • 2003:  Settlement Agreement extended, but allowing still more expansion of terminal facilities and jet flights.  Out of disappointment with the negotiations, in May 2002, AirFair was created as yet another issue-oriented outgrowth of SPON.
  • 1985: Settlement Agreement reached to resolve disputes over new 1985 Master Plan and related EIR 508, as well as EIR 232 (see “Helpful Links,” below).
  • 1981 or 1982: SPON joins City lawsuit challenging the February 18, 1981, certification of Environmental Impact Report (EIR 232) related to the County’s Master Plan for airport expansion (see “Environmental Documentation,” below).  The Airport Working Group was later formed as an issue-specific outgrowth of SPON, which joined the lawsuit and participated in the negotiations.
  • October 7, 1968:  First day of Air California 113 passenger Boeing 737 (“Sunjet”) service from Orange County Airport.
  • August or September, 1967:  Bonanza Airlines adds 72 passenger DC-9 “Funjets” (the first regularly scheduled jets, and probably the first jets of any kind to fly from JWA) to its existing Fairchild F-27 turbo-prop service. The City protested the overflights and tried to convince the County Board of Supervisors (which controls the airport) to look for a different location for commercial aircraft activity serving Orange County. Litigation over impact of jet flights begins in 1968.
  • 1952:  Bonanza Airlines initiates commercial airline service from Orange County airport with DC-3 (propeller) flights to Los Angeles, San Diego, El Centro-Yuma and Phoenix.


News Coverage

see also:  LA Times archive stories about Orange County Airport, JWA and John Wayne Airport

Helpful Links

  • JWA’s Noise and Access page, including:
  • JWA’s Settlement Agreement page, including key terms.
    • Many of the features of the Settlement Agreement, including the commercial aircraft curfew and general aviation noise restrictions (which both pre-existed but are protected by the Agreement) can be found in Title 2, Division 1, Article 3 (“Airport Noise”) of the County’s codes, collectively referred to by JWA administrators as the GANO.
    • Regarding the curfew, the Settlement Agreement has always referred to “County Ordinance 3505 [the original GANO], and the provisions of paragraph 4, at page 62, of Board of Supervisors’ Resolution 85-255 (February 26, 1985)” — protected for 5 years beyond the rest of the agreement.  Those documents can be viewed here.
    • The Agreement also limits changes to the Phase 2 Commercial Airline Access Plan and Regulation
  • JWA Historical Chronology of airport development and airport-related events.
  • Newport Beach City Council Airport Policy (Policy A-17) and archive of past versions (most recent includes Settlement Agreement as an attachment)
  • City’s Aviation Committee page, including links to Monthly Reports prepared by the City’s JWA consultant (and one-time Mayor) Tom Edwards, which seem to be the City’s primary mechanism for disseminating JWA-related information
  • City’s JWA Documents and Resources page contains a growing list of airport-relevant documents arranged chronologically, with the oldest at the bottom.  These include the “ARTS” study of departure options prepared for the City in 2008 and the so-called “Spheres Agreement” with the County from 2006 which, if honored, contains promises limiting extension of the runway to the south (but not to the north).
  • City’s JWA General Aviation Improvement Program with the latest information on efforts to get the County Board of Supervisors to adopt Alternative 3.
  • The City’s Aviation Committee Chair, Councilman Jeff Herdman, maintains a blog on his campaign website that includes entries updating constituents on aviation-related matters
  • AirFair (citizens activist group affiliated with SPON, but currently dormant)
  • Airport Working Group (similar to AirFair, but an older outgrowth of SPON;  board meetings closed to public)
  • Citizens Against Airport Noise & Pollution (a recently formed group with goals similar to AWG and AirFair)


Environmental Documentation

  • Environmental Impact Statement (“Docket 33237”) adopted by Civilian Aeronautics Board in February 1981, containing comments and responses (this is related to, but not the same as the Environmental Impact Report for the County’s Master Plan for airport expansion — EIR 232/102 — which triggered the dispute leading to the 1985 Settlement Agreement) — online on Hathi Trust and Google Books
  • EIR 508 for 1985 Master Plan, all volumes available on Hathi Trust digital library, or Google books.  New litigation related to this EIR reportedly led to adoption of 1985 Settlement Agreement, resolving disputes over both EIR 508 and EIR 232:
  • EIR 546, from 1993, deals with “The Phase II Access Plan, Noise Limits and Noise Monitoring.”  It has been recently posted in four parts on the City’s JWA Special Reports page (see bottom of page).  It also seems to be available as a single 118 MB 660 page PDF via a link at the bottom of the City’s JWA Issues page.
  • EIR 573, from 2001, studied splitting aircraft operations in Orange County between JWA and a proposed Orange County International Airport at the site of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Part of it is available via a link on the Airport Working Group website. Much more was posted by opponents of the El Toro site, and remains available on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
  • EIR 582 for the 2003 Settlement Agreement extension (which allowed massive expansion of the terminal) is available in print at Newport Beach Public Library , including a 2004 Supplemental EIR for terminal construction.  A scanned copy of the latter (only) is available on the AWG website.
  • EIR 617 for the 2014 extension: draft online at JWA (with explanation here);  in print at Newport Beach Public Library (draft and final).  There is also an associated Mitigation Monitoring Program listing tasks to be accomplished after adoption of the extended Settlement Agreement. See also the County’s certification of this EIR with Resolution No. 14-084.