The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed rules yesterday that would absolutely ban noisy airplanes - including all commercial jets - from taking off or landing at National Airport between 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The proposed rules would forbid airlines from scheduling flights in or out of National after 9:30 p.m. and before 7 a.m., and would limit to 20 the number of scheduled flights that could be stacked into the last 30 minutes of the day.
The effect of those changes would be to eliminate 37 late-night scheduled flights, FAA Administrator Langhorne M. Bond said. Furthermore, the absolute ban on noisy airplanes would eliminate the unofficial cheating on the voluntary 10 p.m. curfew at National that is now in effect.
In the 30 days ending March 15, a total of 70 airlines took off or landed at National after 11 p.m. even though they were scheduled to do so by 10 p.m. The practical application of the rule has been that if a jet is scheduled in by 9:59 p.m., National will take it anytime it gets there.
The proposed rules will also for the first time permit the use at National Airport of the new, quieter widebodied jets. However, the proposed rule does not support a favorite position of noise-weary Washington area residents. A demand that each wide-body permitted at National replace two regular flights. Such a proposal was first made in a report in 1975 from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
James T. Murphy, director of the FAA-owned and operated Washington Metropolitan Airports, said that in 1977, Eastern Airlines alone operated 7,837 extra sections of its shuttle between New York and Washington. A wide-body, or jumbo jet, could eliminate many of those extra sections, he said. Extra sections do not count against the National quota of 40 scheduled airline takeoffs or landings per hour.
Eastern has been seeking approval to bring its new Airbus Industrie A-300 wide-body into National. That two-engine jet, built by a European consortium, is the quietest existing commercial jetliner. A demonstration flight of the A-300 at National could come "within a month," Murphy said.
Two other wide-bodied jets that could be considered are the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011, both of which have three engines. The Boeing 747, a four-engine wide-body, would not be eligible for service to National.
Wide-bodied jets would only be permitted until annual passenger traffic through National Airport reached 16 million people by 1985 and 18 million by 1990. About 13.5 million passengers now use National annually. The projected increases, Murphy said, would require expansion of airport facilities.
Bond theorized that traffic constraints - quotas on flights and the total passenger limit - would naturally push expansion on both Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International airports.
There would be no change in the quota of 40 scheduled airline flights per hour permitted between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. under the FAA proposals. The quotas also would continue to permit 20 non scheduled airplanes of any description to land or take off per hour at National.
The FAA proposal is contained in a draft environmental impact statement that assesses policy options for National and Dulles International Airport.Public hearings will be held by the FAA, possibly in May, before a final decision on the policy is announced. The earliest the new ban on flights between 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. could be implemented would be September, FAA officials said.
The FAA was ordered to produce the draft statement by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in response to a lawsuit filed against the FAA by a group known as Virginians for Dulles.
That group has contended that flights at National should be switched to Dulles and that growth in air travel in the Washington region should not be permitted at close-in, noise-sensitive National.
Sigurd Rasmussen, vice president of Virginians for Dulles, a persistent, vocal critic of jet noise and a man who testifies at many FAA noise hearings, said that the lack of reduction in flight quotas "appals me beyond belief." The FAA proposal, he said, "is scandalous."
Rep. Joseph L. Fisher (D-Va.), who has Rasmussen for a constituent, said he was disappointed that the proposal contained no requirement for noise-abatement procedures by pilots.
Further, he said, "There is no clearcut policy statement of shifting flights from National to Dulles. That result could fall our indirectly (from the late-night ban and wide-boyd substitution for extra sections), but I had wanted a specific statement that all increases in flights would be shifted to Dulles and that there might be some modest reduction at National . . ."
Sen. Charles Mc C. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.) called the proposal "a good first step."
Rep. Herbert E. Harris II (D-Va.) said he he liked the "curfew that has bit," but noted that there is "nothing in the report that specifically cuts down on flights. I'd rather be dealing with specifics."
The environmental impact statement considered 32 variations of four possible options at National, raning from doing nothing to imposing strict restrictions.
The question of noise-abating procedures by pilots - a highly controversial aviation safety issue - will be treated in another forum, Bond and Murphy said yesterday. Bond said that the FAA is close to issuing a proposed rule on specific noise-abatement operational techniques.
The airlines themselves hve opposed any reduction in quotas at National in both formal papers and informal contacts with the FAA. The environmental impact statement said that if quotas were reduced airlines would doubtless take the cuts in less-profitable, low-density markets but leave in moneymakers like nonstops to New York, Chicago and Atlanta. tr for add six
Smaller cities that would probably lose nonstop service include Charleston, S.C., Albany, N.Y.: Memphis; Kinston, N.C., and Charlottesville, the report said.
The absolute late-night ban would be applied to all aircraft louder than a specified, measurable noise level on takeoff or landing. For the first time, the ban would include planes such as the piston-powered DC-3 on takeoff, several of which make late-night freighter runs into National.
Some newer, quieter business jets would be permitted to land at National under the new rule.