Aircraft operations have slightly decreased at Santa Monica Airport (SMO), based upon an annual report submitted Monday to the Airport Commission.
Just the same, the airport continues to operate below federally regulated noise levels and keep arrivals during the voluntary night curfew to a minimum.
The 2012 Annual Noise Report was presented to the Santa Monica Airport Commission by acting SMO manager Stelios Makrides.
Also speaking to commissioners about how noise is measured and perceived was Vicente Mestre, an engineer with Landrum and Brown.
According to statistics published in the report, SMO experienced a seven percent decrease in the total number of aircraft operations between 2011 and 2012.
An aircraft operation is one takeoff or one landing. In 2012, the total number of aircraft operations was 102,675, down from 110,694 operations in 2011.
The 102,675 aircraft operations are the lowest number in the past 10 years.
There were 142,859 total aircraft operations in 2003 and the number has, for the most part, steadily decreased for the most part.
Most of the aircraft operations in 2012 — more than 87,000 — were propeller aircraft.
Only 12,414 aircraft operations in 2012 were jet aircraft. One year earlier, there were 13,180 jet aircraft operations.
Interestingly enough, helicopter operations increased from 2,795 operations in 2011 to 3,247 in 2012.
While SMO arrivals are permitted 24 hours per day, the airport has a Voluntary Night Arrival Curfew in place.
Under the voluntary curfew, pilots are asked to not arrive at SMO between 11 pm and 7 am weekdays and 11 pm and 8 am weekends and holidays.
In 2012, SMO staff logged 267 arrivals during the Voluntary Night Arrival Curfew, down 13 percent from 2011.
Since 2003, the highest number of arrivals during the Voluntary Night Arrival Curfew was 529, which was logged in 2004.
Last year, 80 of the curfew arrivals occurred during the 11 pm hour, while another 76 were recorded during the 6 am hour.
A majority of arrivals during the night curfew were propeller aircraft, including single-engine, multi-engine, and turbo-props.
On the flip side, there were 20 curfew departures in 2012, up from 18 in 2011.
SMO staff also recorded 155 noise violations in 2012, up 15 percent from 2011 when 135 such violations were recorded.
About 90 percent of the noise violations — or 139 aircraft — were let off with a warning last year; 13 aircraft were fined $2,000 for, and three aircraft were banned.
Makrides told commissioners any bans imposed on aircraft are permanent.
Finally, SMO staff received 4,368 complaints from 366 different residences in 2012.
In 2011, 3,693 complaints were logged. Interestingly enough, more than 44,000 complaints were logged in 2010, but Makrides told commissioners the high number of grievances was due to the incorporation of the 250 heading flight path for aircraft departing SMO.
Commissioner Suzanne Paulson asked how noise monitors were calibrated. Makrides replied the noise monitors are calibrated twice each year, while Mestre provided a technical description of the calibration.
In response to Airport Commission vice-chair Peter Donald’s question of whether studies have been done on the neurological and psychological effects of noise, Mestre said reports were compiled on the cardiovascular effects of noise but nothing more.
Mestre added there have also been studies of the effects of airplane noise in the classroom.
Airport Commission Chair David Goddard asked Mestre if the City’s noise ordinance were applied to SMO, how the airport would be affected.
Mestre replied the noise ordinance could have an impact on nighttime noise.
Also discussed was the residential insulation program, the lack of application of the Airport Noise Capacity Act (ANCA) to SMO, and ways to balance community concern of air traffic and safety with fair access to the airport.
More than a dozen people attended the Sept. 23 Airport Commission meeting.