Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Jet Noise

Please explain the difference between General Aviation and Scheduled Air Carriers.

General Aviation is the term used to describe all civil aviation operations (arrivals and departures) other than regularly scheduled, commercial air carrier service. The types of aircraft used in general aviation flights include biplanes, single- or twin-engine airplanes, turbo props, helicopters, corporate business jets, and more.

Scheduled air carriers are traditional commercial airlines that operate on a fixed schedule, generally at the major gates in the terminals.

What is Single Event Noise Exposure Level (SENEL) or Sound Exposure Level (SEL)?

The SENEL noise metric describes the total acoustical energy, in decibels, of an individual noise event compressed into a reference duration of one second. The SENEL noise level is typically five (5) to ten (10) dB higher than the maximum noise level (Lmax) for the same aircraft noise event. SENEL is the acoustical building block used to calculate cumulative noise exposure for an annual average day using the Community Noise Equivalent Level (CNEL). SENEL is the single-event metric used in the State of California, while SEL is the equivalent used by the federal government, the other forty-nine (49) states, and internationally.

Can people perceive a sound level difference of ? 3 dB?

A typical human listener would not perceive a difference between two sound levels occurring one after the other when the measured noise level difference was three (3) dB or less. Generally, in a community setting, it takes a noise level difference of more than 3 dB for nearly every listener to tell which noise event was louder, and this applies to two events that follow closely in time. A five (5) dB change is readily noticeable while a ten-(10) dB change is judged by most people as a doubling (when the noise level is increased) or a halving (when the noise level is decreased) of the loudness of the sound.

Who controls aircraft flight paths?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the pilot-in-command of each aircraft have sole jurisdiction and responsibility for flight paths. Accordingly, only the FAA has enforcement capability over these issues. No airport operator has authority nor control over aircraft in flight.

What is the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) of 1990?

ANCA is a federal law enacted by Congress in 1990 to establish a national aviation noise policy. The purpose of this law is to constrain, at the federal level, the ability of local airport operators to restrict the use of their airport due to noise concerns.  Since the implementation of ANCA, no airport has successfully completed this review and approval process. However (and generally), the operational parameters in place at LGB John Wayne Airport were “grandfathered” under ANCA and were permitted to remain in effect. If one wanted to impose additional and/or more stringent restrictions than those currently in places at JWA or LGB, such amendments would be subject to ANCA.

What is the minimum altitude for helicopters?

According to FAA, helicopters have no minimum altitude requirements when weather, safety and other air traffic permit.


FAQ about LGB and JWA

If a plane violates the Long Beach Noise Ordinance, is the pilot or air carrier fined?  If so, how much?

The initial phases of LGB’s violation processes are educational: the first time an owner/operator violates the noise ordinance, the operator will receive a packet of information including a copy of the LGB Noise Ordinance, an outline of what the infraction was a letter from the GA Noise Committee (GANC) offering assistance with procedures, and a warning letter asking them to contact noise abatement staff.

The second violation involves a notification letter of infraction and a request for a written noise abatement program where LGB access and noise staff ask the owner/operator to communicate how they plan to operate without violating the LGB noise ordinance in the future.

The third violation is $100 dollars.

The fourth and every subsequent fine is $300 dollars.

Please note that Military aircraft are exempt from this policy.

What does the LGB Noise Ordinance include?

Maximum SENEL (Single Event Noise Exposure Limits) limits, prohibited activities, cumulative noise limits (CNEL, or Community Noise Equivalent Level) and noise budgets, compliance with noise budgets, violation enforcement, general exemptions, and flight limits – among other things.

What is the best way to make a noise complaint to LGB?

The best way to make a complaint is to call the LGB complaint hotline at (562) 570-2665.  A staff noise specialist investigates every complaint.  The complaints are logged into LGB’s Airport Noise Monitoring and Management System (ANOMS) complaint database.

The complaints are plotted on a map for the monthly Airport Advisory Commission (AAC) meeting, and for the quarterly GANC meetings.  Although violations are not issued because of complaints, complaints are studied for patterns, and to gauge community concerns.

What is the LGB noise budget, how does it work?

It is the goal of the City of Long Beach to have no communities exposed to a community noise equivalent level (CNEL) of 65 dBA or greater. The 65 dBA level is consistent with the State guidelines.  Noise of Military and Public Aircraft, for which the City of Long Beach bears no liability, is excluded.

Each user group is assigned a noise budget, based on the 1989-90 baseline, for takeoff and landing noise or Runway 30/12 (Noise Monitors #9 and #10)  In determining compliance with the noise budgets, a tolerance of 1.0 dBA CNEL(a multiplier of 1.2589) is applied.

Baseline noise budgets were established by the actual monitored noise levels of each group during the cumulative 12-month period from November1, 1989 to October 31, 1990.

The budget were selected to comply with the provisions of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA).

There are 5 separate user groups defined in the budget; air carrier, charter, commuter, general aviation, and industrial.

Noise reports and noise contours are prepared quarterly to determine whether user groups are operating within their individual noise budgets, and the reports are submitted to the County of Los Angeles, which monitors residential and other sensitive land uses in areas impacted by greater than 65 dBA CNEL.

The Staff of City of Long Beach also meets with the General Aviation Noise Committee (GANC) quarterly to review the budget analysis. GANC is a user group, which acts to encourage all Long Beach Airport users to fly quietly and comply with Ordinance Provisions.

What is the Long Beach Noise Compatibility Ordinance?

The City of Long Beach began efforts to control noise through adoption of an ordinance more than 20 years ago. These efforts were precedent-setting and they were challenged in the courts. It took more than dozen years and substantial legal fees to strike a reasonable balance between air commerce and community noise exposure. The resulting Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance (LBMC 16.43) was passed in 1995.

Since 1991, no other airport operator has succeeded in enacting an airport noise related ordinance, although John Wayne Airport has a noise-related ordinance as well.  LGB’s current Noise Ordinance was grandfathered under the Federal Aircraft Noise Capacity Act (ANCA) of 1990. This act does not permit the enactment of airport flight/noise restrictions without federal approval, which has been withheld in all cases to date.

No grandfathered airports have been able to change their noise ordinance and remain protected by their grandfathered status.

Why are planes allowed to arrive and depart at night at LGB?

The Long Beach Airport is open 24 hours, but within those 24 hours, there are different SENEL (Single Event Noise Exposure Level) limits.  All airline operations must be scheduled between 7 am-10 pm. Operations between 10 pm-11 pm are allowed if the delays were caused by weather, air traffic, or mechanical issues

The 7 am-10 pm SENEL limit on LGB’s main runway (30/12) is 101.5 SENEL dBA on arrival, and 102.5 SENEL dBA on departures.  The 6 am to7 am and 10 pm to11 pm limit is a more restrictive 90.0 SENEL dBA.  The 11 pm-6 am limits are the most restrictive at 79.0 SENEL dBA

Why does aircraft operate after 10 pm? Are these aircrafts fined?

The LGB Noise Ordinance states that Commercial Airlines must be scheduled to arrive or depart between the hours of 7 am-10 pm, but the LGB Noise Ordinance also states that violations occurring between the hours of 10 pm and 11 pm which are the result of unanticipated delays beyond the reasonable control of the aircraft Owner/Operator shall be waived upon the presentation of evidence satisfactory to the City that the delayed arrival or departure resulted from such circumstances.  If the airlines operate after 11 pm, they may receive a monetary fine.  Please note the Military Aircraft are exempt from this policy.

How can I find out more about noise at LGB?

Contact the Noise Office here

How can I track flights at LGB?

You can use the LGB WebTrack system here

How can I find out more information about JWA noise?

Contact the Access and Noise Office here

How can I track flights at JWA?

You can use the JWA Volans system here







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