John Wayne Airport issues . . . as of September 2017
Latest News: On Tuesday, September 26 at 4:00 p.m., the City Council held a public study session 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.
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 convenient 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.
- 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.
- A departure path of less resistance might be coming to JWA (Daily Pilot, September 27, 2017 — SPON has not taken a position on this)
- JWA’s Noise and Access page, including reports, Quarterly Noise Meeting dates and interactive Flight Track Viewer (“VOLANS”)
- JWA’s Settlement Agreement page, including key terms.
- Newport Beach City Council Airport Policy (Policy A-17) and archive of past versions (most recent includes Settlement Agreement as an attachment)
- City complaint form (to be forwarded to FAA regarding NextGen/SoCal Metroplex flight issues)
- City’s Aviation Committee page
- City’s JWA issues page
- AirFair (citizens activist group affiliated with SPON, meetings open to public)
- Airport Working Group (similar to AirFair, but an older outgrowth of SPON; board meetings closed to public)
- Environmental Documentation
- Original 1981 Environmental Impact Statement (triggered dispute leading to 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:
- EIR 582 for 2003 extension (allowed massive expansion of terminal) — in print at Newport Beach Public Library + supplemental report for terminal construction
- EIR 617 for 2014 extension: draft online at JWA (with explanation here); in print at Newport Beach Public Library (draft and final)