Officials with San Bernardino County and its international airport on Wednesday criticized a March Joint Powers Authority proposal to move flight paths for DHL cargo planes over San Bernardino residential areas.
Just a week after March officials unveiled proposed test routes that are designed to divert the noise that comes from early morning cargo flights at March Air Reserve Base, County Supervisor Josie Gonzales urged the San Bernardino airport authority to investigate whether flight-path changes would hamper air traffic into the airport.
"We need to ask why it is even being contemplated," Gonzales said Wednesday at a meeting of the Inland Valley Development Agency, which oversees development around the airport. "This would encumber future plans for this airport."
In a letter dated June 7 to the mayors of San Bernardino, Rialto and Colton, Gonzales also said she was concerned that the new proposed flight paths would shift the noise to residents of San Bernardino County.
Gonzales said she wants to be part of any decision March might make on the flight paths.
"If staff determines the DHL proposal would harm our residents or air traffic, I will call a meeting so we can discuss a strategy for defeating it," she said in the letter.
Bob Page, Gonzales' chief of staff, said it does not seem fair that Riverside County would get the economic benefits of the DHL flights and San Bernardino residents would get all the noise.
"We are heartened by the fact that the FAA generally doesn't shift flight plans because of noise concerns," Page said.
Michael Burrows, San Bernardino International Airport's assistant director, said he also has concerns over the proposal to shift the flight path over Colton, which would intersect the San Bernardino airport's approach path.
"We'd need to be at the table if they did propose something like that," he said. "And we'd work with the FAA to make sure our concerns are heard."
Burrows said the airport will monitor the March Authority's plans. "We want less impact on our airspace, not more," he said.
The possible move rankles some San Bernardino County officials because the airport sought DHL's business when the freight company was looking for a Southern California base and eventually chose March, which is in Riverside County.
John Mitchell, a Colton city councilman and Inland Valley Development Agency board member, said he'd welcome a discussion with DHL.
"We don't want them to use any airspace over San Bernardino County," he said.
Reach Josh Brown at 909-806-3074 or jbrown@PE.com
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