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Frequently Asked Questions by Topic

A            Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

A.1      Who are the Community Advisory Committee members and how were they selected?

The CAC members were selected by Los Angeles County Supervisor Khuel’s office and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Rodriquez’s office, both in collaboration with LA County Department of Public Works (operator of the airport).

 

CAC members are Pacoima community leaders and airport stakeholders (i.e. residents, airport users, and emergency services) who use their local insight and knowledge to understand community concerns and identify new opportunities, such as the creation of local jobs, community beneficial uses, and dedicated open space at the airport, as well as other airport-based improvements.

        •   Maria Chong-Castillo, Deputy for Public Works, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
        •   Jessica Orellana, District Director for San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
        •   Rocío Hernández, District Director Council Member Monica Rodriquez
        •   John Hernandez, Pacoima Chamber of Commerce
        •   Veronica Padilla-Campos, Pacoima Beautiful
        •   Yvonne E. Mariajimenez, Neighborhood Legal Services
        •   Mikayeel Khan, Pacoima Neighborhood Council
        •   Bobby Arias, Champions in Service
        •   Rudy Ortega, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians
        •   Jasmine Tuyet Le, Student representative
        •   Charles Nelson, Pacoima Neighborhood Watch
        •   Heren Molina, Council District 7
        •   Michelle Rogel, Community Volunteer
        •   Eduardo (Eddie) Gonzales, Pacoima Chamber of Commerce
        •   Jeanne Fenimore, Whiteman Pilot and Airport User
        •   Penny Alderson, Vista Aviation
        •   Robert Gaylor, LA County Fire Department
        •   Ryan Antoon, 3rd District Appointee/Ex Officio

A.2      What is the Community Advisory Committee's Charge?

Per Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors motion on December 8, 2020, the County has formed a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of leaders and stakeholders from the community and Airport to provide input throughout the process.

The CAC will use their local insight and knowledge to understand community concerns and identify new opportunities, such as the creation of local jobs, community beneficial uses, and dedicated open space at the airport.

During the 12-month planning process, members will need to commit to attending at least six bi-monthly meetings, approximately two hours in length. These meetings will also be open to the public.

Here is a link to the actual motion:

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors motion (PDF) 

B            CAC Meetings

B.1     What is the Brown Act?

The Brown Act is a state law that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.

 

Through the Brown Act, the public can openly speak and comment on the actions of local government during noticed public meetings.  The purpose of the Brown Act is to safeguard the public’s interests from being excluded through closed-door decisions.  To that end, there are also many rules for decision-makers under the Brown Act to prevent bias or collusion.

Here is a link to the actual law:

California Brown Act

B.2     Where can I be notified of upcoming CAC meetings?

To stay up to date on the progress of the project, you may sign up for email notifications at https://ReEnvisionWhitemanAirport.com, or follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

 

For the first two meetings, flyers were distributed to residents and businesses within 1,000 feet of the Airport and mailed to residents and businesses within one mile.  Meeting emails and flyers are distributed to community organizations including the Neighborhood Council, Pacoima Beautiful, and the Chamber of Commerce as well as available at the Whiteman Airport terminal building.

Sign up For Notifications:

https://www.reenvisionwhitemanairport.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/reenvisionwhitemanairport

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/reenvisionwhitemanairport/

B.3     How many CAC meetings have there been?

Per Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors motion on December 8, 2020, the County has formed a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of Pacoima leaders and stakeholders from the community and Airport to provide input throughout the process. The CAC will use their local insight and knowledge to understand community concerns and identify new opportunities, such as the creation of local jobs, community beneficial uses, and dedicated open space at the airport. During the 12-month planning process, members will need to commit to attending at least six bi-monthly meetings, approximately two hours in length. These meetings will also be open to the public. The initial meetings took place on July 22, 2021, July 29, 2021, September 23, 2021, November 18, 2021, January 27, 2022, March 24, 2022.

On September 23, 2021, the CAC voted to add additional meetings. We had originally scheduled CAC meetings for June 2021, July 2021, September 2021, November 2021, January 2022 and March 2022 for six meetings total. This vote added CAC meetings to October 28, 2021, April 28, 2022, May 26, 2022 and June 23, 2022 for four additional meetings and ten meetings total.

On June 23, 2022, the CAC added future meetings on July 28, 2022, August 25, 2022, September 22, 2022, October 20, 2022, November 17, 2022, December 15, 2022 and January 26, 2023 for seven additional meetings and seventeen meetings total.

Additionally, two open houses were held on March 3 and 5, 2022 and a town hall was held on May 24, 2022.

C           Community Input

C.1     Is the public able to provide Input to this process?

Yes, the meetings associated with this project are public meetings and subject to the Brown Act.  In each meeting there will be a period for open public comment.

 

There will be several public-focused workshops as part of this process.  Members of the public are encouraged to contribute to the vision for the Airport, whether through public comments at the meetings or using online platforms, including this website.

C.2     Please define what "Community Outreach" means.

Our efforts to connect the communities we serve with Public Works’ projects and programs.

C.3     For community members that do not have internet access, are there physical locations where information on the Re-envisioning Whiteman Airport Project, such as meeting agendas, can be found?

Yes, printed agendas and information for the project can be found at the following location:

Whiteman Airport Office:


10000 Airpark Way
Pacoima, CA 91331
 

C.4     Where can I see the comments submitted throughout this process?

All comments received throughout this process can be found here:
 

Community Input | Whiteman Airport (reenvisionwhitemanairport.com)

D          Community Benefit

D.1     What opportunities exist for local youth at the airport?

The County airports host numerous events and activities directed to the local youth and public throughout each year. Some of past events have included Challenge Air for Kids & Friends, Aircraft Display Days, Fly-Ins, Air Races, and others.

In addition to providing tours of the airport facilities, airport personnel also participate in local events such as the American Heroes Air Show held at the Hansen Dam Sports and Recreation Center each year, Career Days at local public and charter schools, and the annual Aviation Career Day held at Van Nuys Airport, among numerous other airport-related events and activities.  Check the Events & Activities calendar (link below) for upcoming events at Whiteman and the other County airports.

 

There are several ongoing opportunities for youth at Whiteman Airport including:

  • The Air Explorer program provides low-cost flight training for young people.

  •  - For more information, please visit their website below: Kitty Hawk Squadron 3

  • San Fernando Valley 99s Aviation Explorers 747 program offers flight skills training for teens.
    - For more information, please visit their website below: San Fernando Valley 99s - Aviation Explorers 747

  • The Civil Air Patrol Squadron 35 provides education and training for interested civilians.
    - For more information, please visit their website below: San Fernando Senior Squadron 35 – Whiteman Airport | Civil Air Patrol, Los Angeles Group 1

  • The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles program offers free flights and awareness programs for community youth.
    - For more information, please visit their website below: Young Eagles – EAA Chapter 40

E           Economic Impacts

E.1     How many airport tenants live locally in the Pacoima area?

Public Works is working to compile this information and will provide an update once the full details are known.

E.2     How many jobs does the airport create?

In 2020, Public Works performed an Economic Impact Analysis of the 5 County airports.  Whiteman Airport directly creates 246 jobs, with an additional 166 employment opportunities created because of economic multipliers.

 

A total of $19 million of income is generated annually for the total workforce, while an estimated $54.5 million of annual airport-related spending benefits the airfield and the surrounding community each year.  Further details can be found in the 2020 Economic Impact Analysis.

​2020 Economic Impact Analysis:

 

LA County Airports Economic Impact Analysis 2020.pdf

E.3     Where does the airport’s funding come from?

The airport is funded through an enterprise fund. It’s a separate account from LA County’s “general fund,” for specific services that are funded directly by fees and charges to the users of these services.

Revenue/Funding Sources:

  • Rent: Short-term hangar and tiedown rents; longer-term facility and land lease rents

  • User fees: fuel flowage fees; overnight parking fees; event/filming permit fees

  • Fuel Sales Revenues: retail sale of aviation fuels (Avgas and Jet A)

  • Grant funding: grants to airport sponsor for the planning and development of public-use airports to enhance airport safety, capacity, security, and address environmental concerns

    • Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants

    • California Aid to Airports Program (CAAP)

 

Airport Expenses

  • Operations and maintenance (O&M) of airport

  • O&M of fueling facilities

  • O&M hangars and tiedowns

  • Division operations

  • Construction of Airport Improvement, Airport Capital Improvement Program

  • Contracts

  • Fueling costs

  • Lease management

 

For more information, see the November 18, 2021 CAC meeting: November 18,2021 CAC Meeting #5

E.4     What is the airport’s annual budget?

The airport’s budged is included in the overall airport system budget, which includes all five airports owned by the County.

E4-FIG1-WebsiteExpenditures.jpg

For more information, see the November 18, 2021 CAC meeting: November 18,2021 CAC Meeting #5

E.5     What grants has the airport received?

The airport’s 20-year grant history is shown below:

E5-FIG1-GrantAssurances.jpg

For more information, see the November 18, 2021 CAC meeting: October 28,2021 CAC Meeting #4

F           Airport Safety

F.1     Who deems an aircraft safe to fly (airworthiness)?

An airworthiness certificate is an FAA document which grants authorization to operate an aircraft in flight.  The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aircraft Certification Service includes more than 1,300 engineers, scientists, inspectors, test pilots and other experts.

 

They are responsible for oversight of design, production, airworthiness certification, and continued airworthiness programs for all U.S. civil aviation products and foreign import products.  The FAA collaborates with the International Civil Aviation Organization and other civil aviation authorities to maintain and advance the safety of international air transportation.

FAA Airworthiness Info: 

https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/airworthiness_certification/aw_overview

F.2     How does an aircraft maintain its airworthiness?

Each individual aircraft owner is responsible for the airworthiness of their aircraft. The owner must use a certified mechanic to perform the required aircraft maintenance. 

F.3     What is the difference between an aircraft incident and accident?

Aircraft accidents are any occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft that takes place between the time a person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and the time such person has disembarked, in which a person suffers death or serious injury as a result of the occurrence or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage. 

 

Aircraft incidents are any occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft that is not considered an “aircraft accident.”


For more information, see the October 28, 2021 CAC meeting: October 28,2021 CAC Meeting #4

F.4     Who is responsible when there is an aircraft accident?

Airspace: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the airspace around the Whiteman Airport and LA basin through the control tower and the Los Angeles Center air traffic control.

Aircraft: The FAA issues and enforces regulations covering manufacturing, operating, and maintain aircraft in addition to certifying pilots and airports for safety.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB): Investigates every civil aviation accident in the United States, determines probable cause, and issues safety recommendations.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): Issues and enforces regulations, operates air traffic control, builds or installs air navigation facilities.

Local first responders: Los Angeles Fire Department and Police Department cooperate with the airport for emergency response and conduct training exercises.

For more information, see the October 28, 2021 CAC meeting: October 28,2021 CAC Meeting #4

F.5      What general aviation safety rules are there for airports?

Airports follow the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports.

 

Aircraft must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, and have maintenance and airworthy requirements

Pilots are subject to security and credentialing programs and must maintain a valid pilot license.

For more information, see the October 28, 2021 CAC meeting: October 28,2021 CAC Meeting #4

F.6     What is Public Works’ aircraft accident general protocol?

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works will take the following actions:

 

Notify: if not already done, report the accident (i.e. 911, FAA, NTSB)

Protect people: lifesaving operations take priority

Protect property: protect property from unnecessary additional damage

Preserve evidence & investigate: treat the area as if it was a crime scene. Provide security, identify witnesses, and gather and record incident and accident details.

Recovery Operations: everything on the site may be under the control of the FAA and/or NTSB until released.

Address community in responsive manner:

  • Identify and engage individuals impacted by the accident

  • Coordinate mental health services, if needed

  • Aid with insurance claims/issues

  • Coordinate municipal services – repairs, street cleaning

  • Be available and responsive to related questions and concerns
     

For more information, see the October 28, 2021 CAC meeting: October 28,2021 CAC Meeting #4

F.7     How many accidents have occurred in the vicinity of Whiteman Airport in the past decade?

Over the last decade, the FAA has opened investigations against 11 pilots flying into or out of Whiteman Airport, and none against the airport itself. None of the incidents that led to the investigations were attributable to the location or particular characteristics of the airport. So far in 2022, the FAA has opened two investigations against the same pilot operating at KWHP. Prior to that, the most recent investigation was in 2017.

Over the past 10 years, there have been 13 accidents at or around Whiteman investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is the authoritative source for aviation accident causes. These resulted in four fatalities, three serious injuries, and three minor injuries to aircraft occupants. The causes (as determined by the NTSB) are one loss of aircraft control on the ground, two losses of aircraft control in flight, one from fuel exhaustion, one from aircraft landing gear not configured, two total losses of engine power, and two hard landings. Three events are currently under investigation. These accidents are summarized below, with the NTSB accident identifier, date, defining event, and injury total.

WPR22FA160 – April 20, 2022

  • Investigation in Progress

  • Injuries – 0

 

WPR22LA076 – January 9, 2022

  • Investigation in Progress

  • Injuries – 1 (Fatal)

 

WPR21FA048 – November 12, 2020

  • Investigation in Progress

  • Injuries – 1 (Fatal)

 

GAA19CA109 – January 26, 2019

  • Loss of Control on Ground

  • Injuries – 0

 

WPR18FA219 – August 12, 2018

  • Loss of Control in Flight

  • Injuries – 1 (Fatal)

 

WPR18FA249 – September 3, 2018

  • Fuel Exhaustion

  • Injuries – 1 (Fatal), 1 (Serious)

 

WPR17LA217 – September 26, 2017

  • Landing Gear not Configured

  • Injuries – 0

 

WPR16LA074 – February 22, 2016

  • Total Loss of Engine Power

  • Injuries – 0

 

GAA15CA248 – August 16, 2015

  • Hard Landing

  • Injuries – 0

 

GAA15CA063 – April 30, 2015

  • Hard Landing

  • Injuries – 1 (Minor)

 

WPR14LA080 – December 29, 2013

  • Loss of Control in Flight

  • Injuries – 2 (Minor)

 

WPR14LA071 – December 18, 2013

  • Total Loss of Engine Power

  • Injuries – 0

 

WPR12LA367 – August 16, 2015

  • Fuel Related

  • Injuries – 2 (Serious)

F.8     Does the Whiteman Airport currently meet all federal, state and local government safety and operation standards as required by the FAA?

The State of California, Division of Aeronautics, conducted an inspection of Whiteman Airport on August 26, 2021. The purpose of the inspection was to ensure compliance with the State-issued airport permit and to update the FAA Airport Master Record. In conducting the inspection, the State evaluates the airport based on the FAA-approved Airport Layout Plan and applicable FAA minimum design standards and Advisory Circular criteria. The inspection found: two unnecessary runway lighting fixtures; tree growth that penetrates the Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 77 transitional surfaces; some faded airport signs; and a need to change the color of the name of the airport painted on the apron from white to yellow. The FAA considers the items identified as relatively minor and consistent with routine maintenance at an airport.

F.9     Has the airport previously had any issues meeting federal safety and operation standards and regulations? If so, at what point, what were the concerns and how were they mitigated?

The FAA has a long history of working with the County of Los Angeles on the planning and development of Whiteman Airport as well as the other County-owned and operated airports. The County is in full compliance with its federal agreement obligations to operate and maintain the airport in a safe and serviceable condition. This is supported by the findings of the State inspection in 2021, as noted in the response above, as well as State inspections in 2019 and 2017 that found no compliance or safety discrepancies. In 2019, the State did reference the need to move forward with the previously planned runway remarking project, which has since been completed.

F.10    Can you provide all documentation related to maintenance of planes based at Whiteman Airport, and all documentation related to safety training of all pilots who operate at that Airport?

Maintenance records belong to the aircraft owner, who must make them available to the FAA for inspection upon request. The FAA may, during the course of routine or targeted surveillance, request to inspect maintenance records for a specific aircraft. All pilots are required to have a flight review every 24 calendar months, per 14 CFR § 61.56, which requires ground and flight training. This training includes a review of current regulations and a demonstration of the maneuvers and procedures applicable to that pilot’s certificate. Pilots also can participate in FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) courses or seminars/webinars. However, the FAA does not track safety course participation by the airports at which pilots operate.

F.11    Who is responsible for conducting safety trainings for those who have access to the airport and/or fly aircrafts? How are the safety trainings conducted and how often?

All pilots who operate to or from Whiteman Airport must have a valid and current pilot certificate and applicable medical certificate or qualification, and they must meet the recent flight experience requirements prescribed by FAA regulations. Pilots are required to have a flight review every 24 calendar months, per 14 CFR § 61.56, which requires ground and flight training. This training includes a review of current regulations and a demonstration of maneuvers and procedures applicable to that pilot’s certificate. The FAASTeam, operated by the FAA’s Flight Standards Service, offers thousands of voluntary in-person and online seminars/webinars and training events, including seminars/webinars and training on pilot training, knowledge, and recency of experience. Over the last six years, the FAASTeam has provided over 2,000 training and educational events within one hour’s drive of Whiteman Airport. The geographical breakdown is as follows:

  • Long Beach 357

  • Los Angeles 39

  • Riverside 194

  • Van Nuys 1,916

G          Airport Flight Paths

G.1     Can flight path alterations be made at Whiteman Airport?

Flight path procedures are dictated by the Federal Administration Association, taking into account operational, safety, and air traffic control procedures.  LA County, as the airport operator, has no authority to regulate flight paths.  Therefore, although an airport may advocate for certain “noise abatement flight paths” to reduce noise, the request must be investigated for its impact on the National Airspace System Plan (NASP). 

G.2     Why do the aircraft fly so low?

Aircraft need to fly low in order to properly line up with the runways and execute safe landings. Aircraft may, however, appear to be lower than they actually are because their large sizes make them look closer. Also, when the airspace is crowded, aircraft may spend time flying a holding pattern at relatively low altitude in order to ensure a suitable flow of traffic. This may make it seem as though they are flying lower than usual. In general, air traffic is controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration and restricted by local airspace limitations.

G.3    Why are the planes flying over my house?

Varying weather and operational conditions influence the flight patterns of aircraft near airports. Wind has the greatest impact on flight paths as aircraft need to land and take-off into the wind. As the wind changes, the flight paths change accordingly.

G.4     Why can't the airplanes fly over some other neighborhood?

Airports often have certain traffic patterns that aircraft must follow in order to avoid collision with other aircraft, buildings, or other landmarks. Traffic patterns are dependent on which runways are in use. In general, air traffic and where the planes fly is controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

H          Airport Emergency and Public Services

Life Safety:
 

  • Los Angeles County Fire Department (view presentation by LA County Fire Department at the June 23, 2022 CAC Meeting or read an overview)

  • Los Angeles City Fire Department

  • Cal Fire

  • U.S. Forest Service

  • Civil Air Patrol

 

Law Enforcement:

  • Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

  • U.S. Marshall Service

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • Drug Enforcement Agency

  • Department of Homeland Security

  • Secret Service

  • California Highway Patrol

  • Los Angeles Police Department

  • Pasadena Police Department

 

Public Services and Agencies:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • United States Department of the Defense

  • National Guard

  • Federal Aviation Administration

  • Caltrans Division of Aeronautics

  • National Transportation Safety Board

  • Southern California Edison

  • Los Angeles County Department of Water and Power

  • Angel Flight (medical transport)

  • Mercy Air Services (medical transport)

  • News Media
     

For more information, view: April 28,2022 CAC Meeting #8 or June 23, 2022 CAC Meeting #10

I           Noise

I.1     Will the Airport be analyzed for noise pollution impacts?

Yes, noise will be considered as part of the Re-envisioning Plan. An overview from the recently-conducted noise study was provided at the CAC meeting on September 22, 2022.

You may read the overview here and watch the meeting here.

J          FAA and County Roles and Responsibilities

J.1     What is the FAA’s role at an airport?

The FAA is responsible for the safety of civil aviation. Its major roles include:

  • Regulating civil aviation to promote safety

  • Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology

  • Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft

  • Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics

  • Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of civil aviation

  • Regulating U.S. commercial space transportation
     

The FAA has responsibilities for:
 

  • Safety Regulation
    They certify all airmen (pilots).  An FAA-issued pilot certificate is evidence that an individual is duly authorized to exercise piloting privileges. They also issue and enforce regulations and minimum standards covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft.
     

  • Airspace and Air Traffic Management
    The safe and efficient use of navigable airspace is one of their primary objectives. This includes the operation of the network of airport towers, air route traffic control centers, and flight service stations. They develop air traffic rules, assign the use of airspace, and control air traffic.
     

  • Air Navigation Facilities
    The FAA builds or installs visual and electronic aids to air navigation. They maintain, operate, and assure the quality of these facilities. They also sustain other systems to support air navigation and air traffic control, including voice and data communications equipment, radar facilities, computer systems, and visual display equipment at flight service stations.
     

  • Research, Engineering, and Development
    They do research on and develop the systems and procedures they need for a safe and efficient system of air navigation and air traffic control. They help develop better aircraft, engines, and equipment and test or evaluate aviation systems, devices, materials, and procedures. They also do aeromedical research.
     

  • Other Programs
    They register aircraft and record documents reflecting title or interest in aircraft and their parts. They administer an aviation insurance program, develop specifications for aeronautical charts, and publish information on airways, airport services, and other technical subjects in aeronautics.

J.2     What role does the County play at Whiteman Airport?
           What other agencies play a role in the operation of the airport?

County: As the owner and operator of the airport, it’s the County’s responsibility to maintain the physical condition of the airport to FAA standards. This includes maintaining all of the facilities within the airport footprint from runways to building repair. The County also acts as a landlord – renting buildings, aircraft parking spaces and sells fuel.

FAA: Developing a safe and efficient national aviation system, including responsibility for all programs related to airport safety and inspections and standards for airport design, construction, and operation. The FAA also issues and enforces regulations covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft in addition to certifying pilots and airports for safety.

Caltrans: The State Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Division of Aeronautics, issues an Airport Permit and assures the safe continued operation of the airport through annual safety compliance inspections.

NTSB: investigates every civil aviation accident in the U.S., determines probable cause, and issues safety recommendations.

 

The local first responders (LAFD and LAPD) cooperate with the airport for emergency response and conduct training exercises.

Local governments have responsibilities associated with minimizing aircraft noise impacts on their residents. Local government jurisdictions are responsible for all land-use zoning around airports and can implement land use plans that avoid residential areas near airports. Typically, any new land use plans would apply to new construction not existing homes.

The Transpiration Research Board (TRB) Cooperative Research Program has a resources describing the role of the airport here: Role of the Airport – Aligning Community Expectations with Airport Roles (trb.org)

K          Airport Closure

K.1     Can Whiteman Airport be closed?

Los Angeles County, as a recipient of FAA grant funding for the airport and referred to by the FAA as the airport sponsor, is subject to obligations (grant assurances) to the FAA to keep the airport in compliance with Federal regulations. Airport sponsor obligations pertaining to the operation, use, and maintenance of the airport are statutorily defined in 49 U.S.C. § 47107(a). The obligations include keeping the airport open and available for public aeronautical use.

The process to close an airport includes the formal release of an airport and its sponsor from the obligations. The FAA makes the final decision on whether to allow closure of a grant obligated airport. As the airport sponsor, the County can request the closure of an airport and prepare the required information to assist the FAA in the decision.

 

Read the Report:  Whiteman Airport Federal Aviation Administration First Step

Prepared by the Department of Public Works for the Board of Supervisors as instructed in the January 25, 2022 Board of Supervisors Motion.

K.2     What are the roles and responsibilities associated with the Re-envisioning process and airport closure?

CAC: Per Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors motion on December 8, 2020, the County has formed the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of leaders and stakeholders from the community and Airport to provide input throughout the (Re-envisioning) process.

The CAC will use their local insight and knowledge to understand community concerns and identify new opportunities, such as the creation of local jobs, community beneficial uses, and dedicated open space at the airport. The CAC will make recommendations to the Board.

 

Public: The public’s role is to provide input to the CAC and the Re-envisioning process. Each meeting has been open to the public in addition to community meetings and town hall.

County: As the owner and operator of Whiteman Airport, the County Board of Supervisors can request the closure of an airport and prepare the required information to assist the FAA in the decision.

FAA: The FAA makes the final decision on whether to allow closure of a grant obligated airport. The FAA will only consider the request for closure from the airport sponsor (LA County).

L           Air Quality

L.1     How much air pollution is caused by the airport?

The Air Quality Study at Whiteman Airport includes measurement strategies including time averaged sampling and real-time measurements. The project team is in the initial phases of the study and more information will be provided as the study progresses. The data gathered from the monitoring will be used to conduct a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) which will be based upon calculated emissions from the Airport only.

L.2     How does the environmental study being performed differentiate between airport pollution versus other surrounding pollution such as from train and vehicular traffic?

It is difficult to differentiate sources of air pollution with absolute certainty, however the sampling methods and locations have been selected to have the highest chances of capturing true emissions from aircraft.
 
Distinguishing emission sources from an urban area with multiple sources of pollution is a difficult task. To mitigate this, our team is very deliberate in planning and execution of the monitoring plan. In addition to the three monitoring locations around the perimeter of the Airport, all measurements will be supported by co-located meteorological monitoring stations so that our technical experts can best determine the relative contribution of Airport operations on these specific measurement parameters. By understanding the sources of emission on the airport (i.e., which aircraft are based there, the number of aircraft operations, fueling, generators, etc.), the placement of the monitoring stations and the meteoroidal measurements – our team can best determine if the source of any pollution detected by the monitor is from the airport or from another source. If the source is determined to not have originated from the Airport, this effort will not determine its original source.

L.3    Are environmental studies being performed in other locations surrounding the airport to determine the amount of pollution coming from outside factors?

The air quality monitors are placed within the airport boundaries in order to capture the most accurate readings possible for aircraft emissions, as well as to ensure the continuity and security of the monitors themselves. Emissions from outside sources are not being directly studied for this process, but baseline environmental data from other sources may be used to compare to emissions measurements collected at Whiteman.

L.4     What is the air quality component of the Re-Envisioning Whiteman Airport process?

The Air Monitoring Program is included as a part of the Re-Envisioning Whiteman Airport process to screen for common pollutants associated with airport operations and to develop a Health Risk Assessment (HRA). The goal of the program is to measure and assess relative pollution levels from emissions at Whiteman Airport and not “off-airport” sources.

L.5    Where will the air sampling take place?

Three sampling locations have been selected at various points within the property boundaries of Whiteman Airport. These sites were selected for multiple reasons:
 

Air monitors at either end of the runway will enable a high-quality analysis of pollutants as they move across the airfield according to wind direction. One air monitor placed towards the center of the airfield will capture crosswind data and emissions from ground operations.
 

Equipment placed outside the airport boundary would be less secure and could not be relied upon to provide the most accurate readings of emissions coming directly from airport sources.

L.6     Air Quality Study

Under the Federal Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 U.S.C. § 7401-7671q), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six criteria pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), ozone, and lead. There are no federal standards for aviation-related GHG emissions. Air quality and the emissions associated with aircraft operations, specifically lead, were a comment topic of concern from both the CAC and community.

Lead is a poison harmful to human health. There is no safe level of lead in the blood. Lead exposure is associated with harm to the nervous, cardiovascular, immune, and reproductive systems. Lead exposure can cause anemia, high blood pressure, an increased risk of cancer, and, at high levels, death. Children are particularly susceptible to harm from low-level lead exposure, which can affect growth and cause behavioral problems and learning deficits. There is evidence that many of lead's adverse effects on children are irreversible. Lead was phased out of automotive fuels in the 1970s but is still used in aviation gasoline primarily to meet higher octane requirements and prevent engine failure in piston-engine aircraft.

The burning of leaded aviation gasoline accounts for an estimated 70% of airborne lead emissions in the U.S. There are an estimated 170,000 piston-engine aircraft nationwide, operating out of an estimated 13,117 airports. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated in 2020 that roughly 5.2 million people live in a census block intersecting with a 500-meter buffer around an airport runway or a 50-meter buffer around a heliport. Of those people, 363,000 are children aged 5 years and under. In addition, an estimated 573 public and private schools enrolling about 163,000 students in grades K-12 are located near an airport runway or heliport.

While efforts are underway by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation and energy industries to transition piston-engine aircraft to unleaded fuel, primarily through the recently formed Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative, the EPA proposed an endangerment finding on October 7, 2022[1], that, if adopted, would determine that lead emissions from aircraft that operate on leaded fuel cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare. This endangerment finding is a fundamental step which will allow the EPA and FAA to regulate and ultimately eliminate the use of leaded aviation gasoline. It is supported by the FAA, aviation industry, and various organizations and public entities.

On January 10, 2023, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor passed a motion protecting the public health by supporting the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation of leaded aviation gasoline.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. The main GHGs are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases (e.g., hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)).

In 2009, the USEPA found that current and projected concentrations of the six main GHGs – CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6[2] – in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations, and that combustion of fossil fuels contribute to the increase in CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere.[3]

Common sources of emissions at a general aviation airport include aircraft, support equipment fueled by fossil fuel, diesel or hybrid, trucks, other vehicles, and emergency generators.  According to most international studies, aviation emissions comprise a small but potentially important percentage of human-made greenhouse gases and other emissions that contribute to global warming.  In terms of relative U.S. contribution, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) reports that aviation accounts “for about three percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human sources” compared with other industrial sources, including the remainder of the transportation section (29 percent) and industry (22 percent).[4] Using industry standard assumptions, the 2021 operations of Whiteman Airport was modeled and resulted in a total of 2,275 short tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced.

By understanding the sources of emission on the airport (i.e., which aircraft are based there, the number of aircraft operations, fueling, generators, etc.), air quality monitors were placed at three locations within the airport boundaries in order to capture the most accurate readings possible for emissions, as well as to ensure the continuity and security of the monitors themselves. The sampling included passive measurements and time averaged samples which contained particulate matter 10 (PM 10), TO-13A, TO-11A, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The PM10 samples were also analyzed and found to contain select metals, including lead, via x-ray spectroscopy.

In January 2015, the US EPA published a study[5] titled “Airport Lead Monitoring” which provided lead concentration data measured at 17 airports across the United States, including nearby Van Nuys Airport. The lead measured, which was averaged over a year in the study, ranged from 0.01 to 0.33 µg/m3 and Van Nuys Airport reported 0.06 µg/m3. The samples studied from Whiteman Airport range from 0.021 to 0.06 µg/m3 of lead.

 

It should be noted that the model only considered the airport operations. The air quality monitors were placed to best capture readings from aircraft emissions but do not eliminate emissions from other sources.

 

[1] Regulations for Lead Emissions from Aircraft | US EPA

[2] Several classes of halogenated substances that contain fluorine, chlorine, or bromine are also greenhouse gases, but they are, for the most part, solely a product of industrial activities.

[3] Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act, 74 Fed Reg. 66495 et seq. (2009)

[4] USEPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990-2017, April 11, 2019.

[5] USEPA, Airport Lead Monitoring, January 2015, January 18, 2023.

M           New Technologies, Reduced Emissions

Within the aviation industry, there are several new technologies under development which are anticipated to reduce the emissions associated with aircraft.
 

Unleaded Fuel

 

Tetraethyl lead (lead) first saw use as a gasoline additive in the early 1920’s when engineers working for General Motors discovered that when added to gasoline it helped to prevent engine knock in cars[1]. This allowed for the development of more reliable and efficient engines and leaded gasoline was used as the main automotive fuel for over 50 years. A growing understanding of the toxicity of lead caused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin phasing it out of automotive fuels in the 1970s.

For a number of reasons, the general aviation piston aircraft fleet continues to rely on fuel with a lead additive, 100LL (low lead). Compared to cars, aircraft generally have higher performance engines with higher octane requirements, have a higher average age[2], are subjected to a wider fluctuation in environmental factors such as temperature, altitude, and pressure, and are at a much greater risk of a serious accident in the event of an engine failure.

100LL is now the only remaining lead-containing transportation fuel, and emissions from small-piston engine aircraft have become the largest contributor of lead emissions produced in the U.S, though total lead emissions are relatively low[3]. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shares the EPA’s concern over these emissions and they are committed to the removal of lead from aviation gasoline. In 2013 the FAA launched the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI) with the goal of working with fuel producers and aircraft manufacturers to develop an unleaded replacement to 100LL. The program invites fuel producers to submit new unleaded fuel formulations to the FAA for rigorous testing. The goal of the program is to develop an unleaded alternative to 100LL that will work with 100% of the general aviation piston fleet, which has turned out to be a more difficult task than anticipated. The original estimated completion date of 2018 has come and gone and the FAA has tested over 279 fuel formulations in an attempt to find a workable solution[4].

Recently, the FAA approved a new type of unleaded fuel that can be used in all piston engine aircraft, but it not yet in mass production. Public Works is making preparations at the five County airports to replace leaded fuel with the unleaded fuel alternative as soon as it becomes available in the next several years.

Electric Aircraft

Historically, general aviation aircraft are powered by gasoline. The FAA has certified general aviation electric aircraft. These aircraft are not yet widely in production, they run on an engine powered by a battery.

Advanced Air Mobility

According to the FAA, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is an umbrella term for aircraft that are likely highly automated and electric. These aircraft are often referred to as air taxis or electric Vertical Take Off and Landing aircraft. This new type of aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take-off, and land vertically is being developed by several manufacturers. The eVTOL aircraft:

  • Take off like a helicopter and fly forward like and airplane

  • Like traditional aircraft, the FAA will certify the aircraft and manage flight routes

  • Designed to be relatively quiet

  • Anticipated to drive new jobs throughout the community

 

The FAA’s website states: “AAM is anticipated to help achieve a more efficient, sustainable, equitable transportation network what will create thousands of new jobs across the County. AAM aircraft could also be used to transport cargo and passengers, help with firefighting, and provide search and rescue operations. It also has the potential to connect underserved and rural communities.”[5]

 

The City of Los Angeles has partnered with eVTOL manufacturer Archer to launch an urban air mobility (UAM) network in Los Angeles by 2024 to help address urban congestion. UAM is a planned on-demand ridesharing services within cities – like Los Angeles. 

 

[1] https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-a-brief-history-of-octane

[2] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20475932-26050#document/p45/a2030254

[3] https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/avgas/

[4] https://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=14714

[5] Advanced Air Mobility | Air Taxis | Federal Aviation Administration (faa.gov)

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