Los Angeles International Airport: Case Study

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This research project will explore Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and present information on its facility, organization and future. LAX is one of the largest airports in the United States and is home to many of the largest carriers in the world. These include US Airway, Delta, United, Hawaiian, and Alaskan to name a few. The FAA, US customs agency and US department of Transportation are the responsible parties that help keep things running smoothly and everyone safe. There is a lot that has to go into the expansion of an airport like this. Things like jet noise, and safe flight paths need to be taken into consideration.

The Organization Background

The Los Angeles International airport is located southwest of Los Angeles city and to the west of Hollywood. Los Angeles airport was built to give its passengers the best travel experience possible in terms of comfort, accessibility, security, and use of the most modern technology in its daily operations. LAX has nine terminals located centrally within a short distance from one another. However, in case where a passenger needs to transfer from one terminal to another, the airport offers transport via the LAX shuttle service. There are also ground transport available to transport the passengers from the city to the airport. The airport is owned and operated by the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the cities aviation department. This agency is responsible of organizing the air transportation needs to support the demand of passenger and cargo shipments within the region of Southern California. The Los Angeles World Airports is an agency managed by a board of directors consisting of seven board members who are appointed by the mayor and forwarded for approval by the Los Angeles City Council.

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Additionally, most of this agency is driven by a workforce of around 36,000 staff members who are the administrators, security personnel, and technical team that is responsible for maintaining the airport and is daily processes. The Los Angeles International Airport is used by some of the largest airlines in the world. These include Airways, SWISS Airlines, Delta Airlines, Turkish Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Emirates, Air France, and KLM flights. These airlines travel around the world to serve all the major cities including Dubai, London, Mumbai, Tokyo, Karachi, Guangzhou, Delhi, Beijing, Moscow, Seoul, New York, Jakarta, and Sao Paulo among others.

Security Screening of Passengers and Cargo

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency responsible for the security screening of passengers and cargo at the Los Angeles International Airport. “A variety of new technologies are being introduced to more rapidly, efficiently and thoroughly identify, scan, and track airline passengers, bags and cargo” (Hamilton & Nilsson, 2015). The newest technology currently being tested is the use of facial recognition technology to reduce the time taken for security clearance by automating the process of identification and verification of the boarding passes for the travellers. Additionally, the system allows for use of a biometric recognition system to screen the passengers who are already ticketed for international flights.

Due to the security risks related to terrorism and transport of weapons, the Transport Security Administration has installed additional security systems such as the Advanced Imaging Technology (IAT) for conducting full-body scans and sending back corrective feedback to the security personnel to alert in case of any unusual threats detected. “The functionality of these scanning systems to ensure that the cargo and passengers do not risk the security of other airport users is based on the ability of the system to scan the boarding passes and passports to activate the automated cameras that take photos of the passenger” (Price & Forrest, 2016). The luggage is passed through an infrared scanning system that can identify the presence of weapons, drugs, or any other illegal substances by recording the variations in the density of the luggage based on some pre-recorded parameters. This technology makes it possible for the passengers to move faster through the security checkpoints since the security systems are integrated with the conveyor belts and the X-ray machines that are programmed to divert any luggage that may have prohibited items. The TSA is dedicated to the incorporation of enhanced security capabilities in the security screening at the Los Angeles Airport to ensure the safety of all airport users.

Legal Actions to Ensure Security

Controlling the balance between airport noise and those living around the airport including the control of development are some of the issues that occur during the establishment of an airport. There is a need to protect the community living around the airport from the noise by aircraft as well as ensure that the land use around the airport is safe for landing and taking off. The towns around the Los Angeles International Airport are also affected by the noise of the aircraft every day. “The federal government agency coordinates with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Civil Aeronautics Board to formulate and enact various legislative laws to protect the residents of Los Angeles city from noise pollution and also to ensure that the airport is safe for aeroplanes to land” (Stevens et al., 2004). The laws for airspace protection are concerned with the construction of skyscrapers in the area surrounding the airport so the pilots have a clear view of the runways for landing.

For instance, The Compatible Land Use title provided the United States Code 47107 in 1964 requires that all airports should be planned strategically so that the appropriate and reasonable action to safeguard the communities from the noise by the planes should be subject to the adoption of land zoning laws that regulate the land use in the immediate surroundings of the airport. This makes sure that the activities and general purposes for which the land is used for are compatible with the normal operation of the airport. The Federal Aviation Law state that any form of land use in the areas surrounding the airport that may present hazards in any form limiting the airport utility and navigation resulting in flight path obstruction should be restricted. Additionally, the “enactment of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) was the first comprehensive federal statute addressing airport noise and required new air transport aircraft designs to be quitter and the phasing out of older noisier jets” (Hamilton & Nilsson, 2015). These acts were implemented to ensure that all activities regarding the use of land in the area of the airport will remain within the applicable noise compatibility measures.

The government actions taken to establish the runway use preferences about the approach and departure from the airport are regulated through the Airspace Protection Regulation (APR) of 1996, and this states the need for ensuring that the land use within the Los Angeles International Airport is regulated. The law states that all approach and departure paths should be protected with regard to the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) that ensures the efficiency of all visual flight procedures within the airport (Stewart & Mueller, 2017). Additionally, Federal government laws have been enacted to ensure the Procedures for Air Navigation Systems Operations. Whose mandate is to manage and regulate the obstacle limitation surfaces.

The federal laws regulating the availability of landfills and wetlands within the areas surrounding airports have also been applied to LAX to prevent airspace obstruction from flocks of birds that may use a landfill as a home. The towns residing around the airport are protected by noise by helping them to install soundproofing on their home and ensuring new buildings are not placed too close to the airport. In turn, the communities are restricted from any form of land use that may result in the production of smoke or steam which can be hazardous to the safety of flight. The federal laws regarding the safety of airspace and protection of the city around the airport are regulated by Federal Aviation Administration.

The federal government coordinates with civil aviation authorities like the Federal Aviation Administration to make laws and regulations that seek to ensure airspace protection as well as making sure that the community living around the airport is safe from a lot noise pollution. The Federal government has also given authority to the agency responsible for airspace protection with all the necessary resources to ensure that the airport system is maintained to meet the required safety, efficiency, and environmental protection standards. According to the 2008 noise compatibility program that is defined under section 47504 of the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act, the Federal Aviation Administration is legally allowed to formulate and implement policies that aim to reduce the number of instances of non-compatible land use within the area of the LAX. The land-use related to reducing the impact of aircraft noise on the surrounding city of the airport is contained in the Noise Exposure Maps (Transportation Security Administration, 2018). The legislative framework is formulated and enacted in accordance to the Federal Aviation Regulations that set the baseline standards for legal action to ensure the protection of the people living around the Los Angeles International Airport as well as making sure that the airspace around the airport is free from obstructions.

The Area Surrounding the Los Angeles International Airport

The following is a photograph of the area around of Los Angeles International Airport to make sure that the airspace around the airport is free from obstructions. This is regarding any form land use that can result in tall buildings, making smoke/steam, or water bodies that may cause airspace obstruction. Related image

Taking from the aerial photograph of LAX above, it’s evident that the Federal Aviation Administration has successfully partnered with other government agencies to make sure that there are no large buildings within a close proximity to the airport. The agency has also regulated the proximity of the nearest buildings and activities taking place within the area to ensure that it does not interfere with the set standards of airspace security. The housing structures have low lying roofs to ensure that the rate of sound absorption is dramatically reduced.

Airline Incidents Since 2000

Being an international airport, LAX has not been without periodical incidents due to many airlines causing traffic in the daily operations of the airport. For instance, an MD-83 owned and operated by Alaska Airlines requested an emergency landing at the Los Angeles Airport after experiencing some technical problems on 31st Jan. 2000. Before the aircraft could make the runway, it crashed into the ocean resulting in the death of 88 people. There was an incidence of runway near-collision in August 2007 where two planes one belonging to the West Jet and the other plan belonging to Northwest airlines operating on adjacent runways. The planes were moving within 37 feet from each other carrying a total of 296 passengers between the two planes. This was reportedly caused by air traffic controller error though the incident was avoided with no passenger was injured. On October 2013, there were two incidents related to the launching of dry ice bombs at the Los Angeles International Airport. In both of these incidents, no one was injured, and two suspects were arrested on suspicion of having destructive devices within the area of an airport. Also, in 2013 a lone gunman attacked terminal 3 of the LAX, shooting randomly, killing one person and injuring three others. The incident was handled, and the gunman was arrested quickly though it did cause delays for about four hours.

Curbing the Noise and Safety Issues

One of the biggest issues relating to airport expansion is the noise from the aircraft that is disturbing to the communities surrounding LAX. The jet noise has been the most pertinent in the history of LAX. This is mainly due to the increase in the population surrounding the airport has the cities have grown. However, the Federal Aviation Administration has taken steps to help, such as directing most of the landing and take-off flight paths to an over-ocean operation to minimize the direct noise disturbance on the nearby cities. Additionally, safety problems have been addressed by making sure that the airspace around the airport is free from obstruction from structures that may pose dangers to landing aircraft or those that are taking off. This action was taken to make sure there are no aircraft incidents over the nearby cities. The Nosie act of 1972 makes sure that the airport is taking responsibility of the noise the aircraft make as well as the noise associated with the working of the airport.

Sustainability and Forecast of Air Traffic Demand

Being a major gateway for international flights, the Los Angeles Airport is committed to maintaining global standards for organizational performance with customer satisfaction, safety, and air traffic management always in mind. The board of directors has implemented sustainable design and construction policies focused on making space for the airport to expand and keep up with air traffic demand (Compatible Land Use and Airspace Protection, 2009). As a result, the Los Angeles International Airport has established the sustainability means to ensure that it can effectively meet the requirements for safe airport operation. In the current location, there is enough room for expansion and long-term sustainability since the physical and structural requirements are already fulfilled in the current location.


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