The federal government's planning agency for the Washington area has called for closing National Airport as soon as 1990 and diverting the facility's flights to Dulles and Baltimore-Washington International airports.
The National Capital Planning Commission, rejecting the recommendations of its own staff, also called on the Federal Aviation Administration which owns National, to close the airport from noon Saturday to noon Sunday to give residents around the airport a break from the noise of its 1,000 daily flights.
What impact the planning agency's resolution will have could not be determined yesterday, but it will add weight to the growing movement to funnel more of National's flights to other airports. The U.S. Department of Transportation under the mandate of a federal court, currently is studying the question of National's future.
The federal planning agency long has been critical of maintaining a busy airport near the center of the area.
Former NCPC chairman Philip Hammer called for the closing of National in the late 1960s, shortly after jets were permitted to use the airport, but the commission never acted on his sugestion. The planning commission consistently has criticized the FAA for the noise and air pollution, traffic congestion and safety hazards it feels are being aggravated by continued expansion of National.
The federal planning agency also will urge the FAA to immediately halt passenger growth at National, limiting the airport to handling no more than 15 million passengers annually, the number that used National in 1979.
Separately, the regional planning agency formed by local governments, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, voted Wednesday to urge the FAA to cut back that number to 14 million and further restrict night flights at National, but stopped short of recommending the airport be closed permanently.
The FAA, which operates both Dulles and National, recently held three public hearings to help it decide the future roles of the two airports. Representatives of more than 100 civic groups and local residents spoke at the hearings and most called for much stricter limits on use of National and greater use of Dulles than the FAA has proposed.
Some planning commission members also suggested that use of Andrews Air Force Base as a commercial airport be restudied. "There are only 269 flights a day at Andrews and more than 100 an hour at National," said John Parsons, alternate Department of Interior member on the planning commission. "It would be a 12-minute subway ride to Andrews from Capitol Hill," Parsons said.
The FAA has proposed allowing National to grow to 18 million passengers a year, which will keep it Washington's busiest airport until at least the year 2000. But it also has proposed a slight decrease in the number of commercial jets by allowing wide-bodied planes to use National. The "jumbo jets" can carry up to 300 passengers, twice the capacity of jets now using National.
The agency has said it will announce changes in its airport policies in August and begin to implement them Jan. 1.