Carpenter Schoolchildren and Surrounding Communities Devastated by Aircraft Noise and Pollution

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

Communities, schools, and precious natural lands that are far from Burbank Airport are under attack. New flight paths designed by the FAA are concentrating planes lower in altitude over densely populated areas. Scroll down to see how many planes are estimated to be directly affecting children by a case study of planes flying over Carpenter Community Charter in Studio City, CA, during the month of January 2019.

It's an established fact that aircraft cause pollution. Increased exposure to noise and pollutants from airplanes, like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen dioxide, can cause community annoyance, disrupt sleep, adversely affect academic performance of children, and increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases. (LINK)

According to NASA and reported by the New York Times in 2010, 25% of pollution caused by an aircraft happens during takeoff and landing, and under the 3000 foot 'mixing level' is where pollution is the most impactful according to the FAA. From the EPA Website: "Aircraft account for 12 percent of all U.S. transportation greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 3 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions." The EPA recognized in 2016 that jet engine exhaust endangers public health by contributing to climate change, and as part of President Obama's Paris Goals was working to regulate emissions. This effort has not continued under President Trump.

So what effect does an aircraft's emission have on people living near or downwind from an airport? What about those under flight paths that are very low; under the 'mixing level'? And what happens when planes fly overhead every 1-5 minutes, every day - does the concentration and frequency increase noise and particulate pollution effects? What about the cumulative effect when in areas that have air quality issues, like the SFV during summer times and fires? We don't have the specific answers as it relates to BUR, but know that the established science proves there are effects, and federal policy requires close review.

Carpenter Community Charter

Let's look at Carpenter Community Charter, a beloved neighborhood school with over 1000 students in operation from 8am to 6pm (with after school programs) that is directly under a new flight path out of Burbank proposed by the FAA, which uses a GPS waypoint called JAYTE (N34 08 33.85 W118 23 20.20) shown below. It's hard to see, but it's almost directly over Carpenter.

Below is a clearer map showing the location of Carpenter (a block from the JAYTE waypoint), and a 1 mile radius, which will be helpful when looking airplane altitude and pollution impact for January 2019 below.

What is the scale of impact?

Burbank airport has had a significant increase in passengers in the past year, and is planning a terminal expansion that, coupled with increased efficiencies, and satellite driven flight paths, could further devastate communities under these new flight paths. Burbank served 5.2 million passengers in 2018, and saw around 132,000 arrivals and departures. Burbank is estimated to be able to serve 7.3M to 11.9M passengers when at full capacity, at max a 128% increase.

In 2018, it's estimated there are 366 operations per day (11,000/mo, and 132K annually.) We can estimate an even split of arrivals and departures, so 183 of each per day (5500/mo, 66K/year.)

So the scale of the impact, for departures only out of Burbank, is around 5500 planes per month estimated to be using these new departure paths over Carpenter.

How many planes are flying OVER Carpenter AND below the 'mixing level' of 3000 feet?

We are unable to pull all 5500 operations for the month of January 2019, but have been able to pull all complaints filed by to Burbank Airport, which come with the altitude and location data attached.

In January there were around 74K complaints filed on Airnoise, an over 27,000% increase from May of 2018.

This January complaint data needs to be filtered to have an accurate emission pollution estimate. Here's how it was filtered:

  • Only look at airplanes within about a mile of Carpenter.

  • Only look at airplanes UNDER 3650 in altitude (since Carpenter's elevation is 650 feet) to stay under the 'mixing level'

  • Remove duplicate callsigns, since multiple people can file a complaint using Airnoise on the same plane.

Based on this filter, we are able to identify 1245 planes (of the estimated 5500 flyovers) within a mile AND under 3000 feet of 1000 schoolchildren and a densely populated residential area. Each dot on the map below shows these plane's locations, and the color shows the altitude (darker is lower). This is probably a conservative estimate.

What is the effect of the noise and emissions caused by these airplanes to these children?

We don't know the specific answers to this, other than the obvious; there are massive negative effects. Regardless it must be studied before the FAA and Burbank Airport make these paths permanent and before the terminal upgrade/expansion plan causes the airport to operate closer to capacity, which would cause a 128% increase in flights.