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VNY Airport Engineering
Phaseout of Noisier Aircraft

LAWA pursued a phaseout of noisier aircraft operating at VNY in a separate process that paralleled the Part 161 Study. This phaseout takes advantage of a provision of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) and the Part 161 regulations that exempts or "grandfathers" certain restrictions proposed (Stage 1 and 2 aircraft) or enacted (Stage 3 and 4 aircraft) prior to ANCA's adoption.

Basis for Grandfathered Phaseout 

As discussed in the overview of Part 161, the regulation does not apply to restrictions on Stage 2 aircraft operations proposed before October 2, 1990. This so-called LAWA´s grandfather provision is important at VNY, because on June 13, 1990, the Board of Airport Commissioners adopted Resolution 17154 which proposed, in part, a staged phaseout of noisier aircraft, based on departure noise levels published in the most recent version of the FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 36-3, according to the following original schedule:

  • January 1, 1991: No aircraft may arrive or departure the airport whose AC 36-3 takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 85 dBA.
  • January 1, 1993: No aircraft may arrive or departure the airport whose AC 36-3 takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 83 dBA.
  • January 1, 1996: No aircraft may arrive or departure the airport whose AC 36-3 takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 80 dBA.
  • January 1, 1998: No aircraft may arrive or departure the airport whose AC 36-3 takeoff noise level equals or exceeds 77 dBA.

Because this regulation was proposed over five months before the October 1990 grandfather provision cutoff, LAWA may implement this regulation without undertaking a Part 161 study and related notice, as long as the regulation as adopted is no more stringent than the original proposal.

Resolution 17154 also proposed two additional noise regulations:

  • The VNY "non-addition rule"
  • Extening the existing (at the time) 11 pm – 7 am curfew on noisier departures to 10 pm to 7 am.

These two rules are summarized in the VNY Noise Management brochure, which is available here.

At its meeting on April 17, 2006, the Board of Airport Commissioners enacted Resolution 22980, which readopted Resolution 17154 regarding the seven-year phaseout of noisier aircraft. It also directed the Executive Director and City Attorney to report on three items:


  • A plan for pursuing the grandfathered phaseout independent of the Part 161 Study.
  • The status of the Part 161 Study.
  • The status of noise regulations adopted in Resolution 17154.

 During the meeting the Board directed staff to pursue the grandfathered noisier aircraft phaseout in parallel with the Part 161 Study. Please see the meeting minutes, which are available here.


On July 17, 2006 LAWA and City Attorney staff presented that plan and status reports. Based on the presentation, the BOAC directed LAWA to pursue a “dual-track” strategy, including both the original noisier aircraft phaseout and the Part 161 process addressing the VNY Master Plan requirement to pursue a Stage 2 ban as soon as possible. The minutes of this meeting are available here.

The BOAC subsequently authorized the Executive Director to circulate an amended version of the original phaseout proposal for public review and comment, and to conduct the appropriate environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The revisions to the ordinance updated the implementation dates of the original proposed seven-year phaseout, added provisions to exempt certain historic aircraft from the phase-out, added a provision exempting aircraft maintenance work during the seven year phase-out, and included authorization for the VNY Airport Manager to grant a one-time written exemption for an aircraft regulated by this Ordinance to permanently depart VNY. The draft ordinance also included an exemption for Stage 3 and 4 aircraft. The FAA notified LAWA that the Stage 3 and 4 aircraft exemption is required to preserve the phaseout ordinance’s "grandfathered" status.

On February 26, 2010, the Los Angeles City Council approved the “Van Nuys Airport Noisier Aircraft Phaseout Ordinance with Historic, Maintenance, and Stage 3 and Stage 4 Exemptions.” Mayor Villaraigosa signed the ordinance on March 9, 2010. The ordinance went into effect on April 15, 2010.