If the threat of the Lampson Project is not enough to concern residents of the College Park East and West communities in Seal Beach, a change in landing patterns at the Long Beach municipal airport has residents calling the FAA this week complaining of low-flying commercial jets.
“I called the Federal Aviation Administration complaining about the low-flying planes,” said Kristina Aurang, a resident of the College Park East told the Sun this week. “This is a different pattern and I am just wondering if it is permanent,” she said.
The Sun reached out to Long Beach Airport and determined that electrical problems with its main runways have indeed prompted a change in the approach and landing patterns which could prolong the change through most of the summer.
“Major electrical upgrades designed to improve the safety of the primary runway at Long Beach Airport (LGB) are being installed from late March through July, necessitating some temporary runway closures,” said a statement issued by Kimberly McMahon, an airport public affairs spokesperson.
In the statement, she said major improvements are being made to Runway 12, one of the key airport runways, causing a three- or four-month temporary closure. During Runway 12-30 closures, operations will occur on Runway 8L-26R, which she acknowledged could bring lower-than-normal traffic flowing over neighborhoods like College Park that generally do not see lower flying landing traffic.
McMahon said the $9.5 million Rehabilitate Runway 12-30 project, primarily funded by an Airport Improvement Program grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will bring the Airport’s largest runway in line with the latest FAA standards and add to the Airport’s sustainability efforts, she said.
As part of the project, more than 500 new LED lights will be installed as part of the electrical project. In addition to the safety benefits of brighter lighting, the LED bulbs use between 75 percent and 90 percent less energy and have a longer life expectancy than incandescent or quartz lights.
In addition, according to McMahon’s statement said major improvements to Runway 12-30 infrastructure, which has reached the end of its designed service life, will include:
• Replacement of all electrical cable powering runway lights and navigational aids (more than 37 miles of airfield cable and grounding wires).
• Replacement of all the runway edge lights, centerline lights, and runway end lights (128 total light fixtures and transformers).
• Replacement of the runway touchdown zone lights that allow aircraft to safely land in low visibility conditions (180 total base cans, fixtures and transformers).
• Restoration of the runway with new asphalt concrete, grooving, and striping (enough to pave a two-lane road almost 1.5 miles long).
Due to the safety setback requirements of the construction work, there will be temporary runway closures between March 29 and mid-July: Runway 12-30 will be CLOSED NIGHTLY, Sundays through Thursdays, from March 29 to mid-July. In addition, Runway 12-30 will be CLOSED DAILY, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from April 18 to May 24, she said.
Exact dates are subject to change, and details are available on the Airport’s Current Noise Advisories webpage, said the statement.
Both commercial air carriers and general aviation operators are cooperating to ensure the safe and timely completion of this critical project. As with last year’s nighttime closures related to reconstruction of Taxiway L, the Long Beach Airport Association (LBAA) is encouraging LGB-based flight schools to voluntarily reduce their nighttime training maneuvers and fly quieter. LBAA is a nonprofit organization representing LGB tenant members. LBAA’s voluntary program asks flight schools to cease pattern work, which consists of low-altitude practice circuits close to the airport, after 9:59 p.m. on evenings when there is nighttime construction work that closes Runway 12-30, the primary runway. The FAA requires night training in order to earn and maintain a pilot’s license.
In addition to the guidance about ceasing pattern work after 9:59 p.m., LBAA also provided “How to Fly a Friendly Pattern at LGB” best practices to LGB-based flight schools, master tenants and operators. Recommendations include using the full length of the runway, full power on departure and techniques for achieving maximum altitude.
Long Beach Airport, which has one of the strictest noise control ordinances in the nation, requires that all commercial flights be scheduled between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Operations between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. are allowed if the delays are caused by weather, air traffic or mechanical issues.
McMahon’s statement acknowledged curiosity among residents. She said residents with questions or desiring more information may visit www.lgb.org/noise or contact the Noise Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 562.570.2665.