Here’s a little problem for the airport’s local boosters and shills.
The FAA has already gone on record that the old Burbank Airport terminal is reasonably safe, and that the long cited runway problem involves not just adjacency to the current buildings but also undershoot and overshoot possibilities.
That’s a problem the proposed “replacement” terminal will not solve. And so according to everyone who’s officially involved in the operation, Burbank still won’t be a truly “safe” airport facility under FAA standards no matter the new terminal.
FAA Says Burbank Doesn’t Need New Terminal
December 20, 2002|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer
Burbank Airport can continue to operate safely without a new passenger terminal, and tens of millions of dollars allocated for a relocation site must be returned since the project has been abandoned, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Our long-standing support for the relocation of the terminal was based on our interest in bringing the airfield up to current design standards,” FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey wrote in a letter Thursday to airport officials. “However … we believe that operations in the present location can continue safely in the future as in the past.”
Blakey’s letter also asked that the Burbank-Glendale-Airport Authority return the money — totaling $42 million in grants and fees — it has received to purchase land for the new terminal. The money has already been used as part of the $86 million the airport spent on a relocation site, said airport spokesman Victor J. Gill. No timetable was set for returning the money.
Blakey noted in her letter “the difficult history” behind the authority’s more than 20-year effort to replace the airport’s aging terminal without being able to reach consensus on the issue.
Last month, airport commissioners voted 5 to 4 to abandon the relocation efforts, citing strong community opposition. Commissioners said the only way they would resurrect the project is if the FAA mandated a move for safety reasons.
Portions of the airport’s 72-year-old passenger terminal are 300 feet from runways, while current building standards mandate a buffer of at least 750 feet. Airport officials have been working toward moving the terminal since at least 1980.
But Blakey made it clear in her letter to authority President Chris Holden that the FAA would not challenge local officials over the relocation issue.
“As the airport operator, it is your decision whether to continue to pursue this project or to terminate it,” Blakey wrote.
Some officials say they believe that the FAA’s position kills any chances that the new terminal project can be revived.
“Let’s put this chapter behind us,” Holden said. “Rather than the salmon swimming upstream, it’s better we put the project to bed.”
In 2011, the Authority spoke of the problem involved with bringing their runways into compliance:
FAA backs off runway plan at Burbank airport, yet sticks by north runway plan for LAX
The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority announced March 9 that it formally concurs with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finding that full compliance with FAA runway safety area standards at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank by 2015 is not practicable.
According to a press release, “The FAA cited the fact that requiring fully compliant runway safety areas (RSAs) – RSA is a surface surrounding the runway that has been prepared for reducing the risk of damage to airplanes in the event of an undershoot, overshoot, or excursion from the runway – at Bob Hope Airport would introduce significant operational constraints, be financially and legally infeasible, would require acquisition of large amounts of private property beyond the boundary of the airport, and would require lowering of highways and railroads.”
Move highways and bridges? Buy lots of private property offsite?
We’re not hearing about this runway problem now, are we? It’s certainly not part of Measure B, is it?
The boosters do keep talking over and over again that we need to have a “safe” and “modernized” airport facility, and that that’s one of the big points in approving it. But it looks like it still won’t be so even if they get their replacement terminal, at least if their safety concerns remain logically consistent.
Hilariously, the Authority cited Blakey in their 2011 letter to the FAA about why the current facility is safe enough:
The airport authority included in its letter to the FAA information sent to the group by Marion Blakey, the former FAA administrator. She wrote, “that operations at Bob Hope Airport can continue safely in the current configuration. Our longstanding support for the relocation of the terminal was based on our interest in bringing the airfield up to current design standards and providing the highest level of safety. However, given the special operating procedure in effect for the airport and the long history of operations with the terminal, we believe that operations in the present location can continue safely in the future as in the past. As the airport operator, it is your decision whether to continue to pursue this project or terminate it,” Blakey said.
So why that new airport terminal again? It’s still not safe? Isn’t that the whole point of re-doing it? Is it safe enough as they say then? Or, will the Authority be changing the runways as well some day, but don’t want to talk about it right now.
And for good reasons, too. For a start, bigger runways mean bigger operations. That’s one way you pay for them.
Again, what’s the point of spending $400 million on an expensive project to replace an airport facility that most people already like if it’s not going to accomplish one of the main goals behind the replacement: to be safe under current FAA regulations?