City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc.

PETITIONER: City of Burbank
RESPONDENT: Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc.
LOCATION: Allegheny County District Court

DOCKET NO.: 71-1637
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 411 US 624 (1973)
ARGUED: Feb 20, 1973
DECIDED: May 14, 1973

Daniel M. Friedman - for the U.S., as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Nicholas C. Yost - for the State of California, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Richard L. Sieg, Jr. - for appellants
Warren M. Christopher - for appellees
Warren Christopher -

Facts of the case


Media for City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1973 in City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments this morning in number 71-1637, City of Burbank and others against Lockheed Air Terminal and others.

Mr. Sieg, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Richard L. Sieg, Jr.:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The subject of this case is an airport, a privately owned and operated airport in a thickly populated area and almost entirely within the City or Burbank.

The problem with respect to this airport began in approximately 1965 when jet aircraft began using this airport on a regular basis.

As jet traffic increased, the problem became more serious.

The problem was first officially noted by the FAA Tower Chief of this in 1967 when he issued the first of a series of four runway abatement preference.

He noted at the time that the problem in the vicinity of airports had become increasingly serious and that if the problem could not be resolved, it might be necessary to close runways and even entire airport.

After this, he issued three other indifferent runway preference orders.

None of these provided any substantial relief.

The last of these orders was issued in September of 1969.

Thereafter, the Council of the City of Burbank took the matter in hand and in March of 1970, adopted the ordinance which is before the Court.

The ordinance makes it unlawful for the operator of the Hollywood Burbank Airport to allow a pure jet aircraft to take off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., except in emergencies.

The same prohibition is applied to the pilots of these aircrafts.

As noted by the Court of Appeals in its decision, the expressed purpose of the ordinance was to abate the serious environmental problem caused by the taking off of jet aircraft during sleeping hours.

As found by the Trial Court, the ordinance interfered with one Sunday night intrastate flight, and with flights of jet aircraft of at least three per week.

Some of those who had filed their briefs in this case have mistakenly used a figure of 60 per month as a number of corporate jet flights interfered with by the ordinance.

This is the -- this number 60 is a total number of jet -- corporate jet aircraft flights during nighttime hours, as testified too by the President of Lockheed.

He was unable to state how many of these flights occurred during the proscribed hours.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, it’d be a little more difficult to predict the pattern of private aircraft, would it not?

Richard L. Sieg, Jr.:

Yes, Your Honor, it would.

I assume it was irregular, but the plaintiffs in this case did not go into that in any detail.

William H. Rehnquist:

When you say nighttime, do you mean sunset to sunrise?

Richard L. Sieg, Jr.:

Yes, the testimony as it found in the record refers to the fact that 60 aircrafts, corporate jet aircraft, took off during the nighttime hours, and that word was specifically used, and I followed that answer with a question as to how many of these occurred during the proscribed hours and the President of Lockheed was unable to state how many.

He first said maybe half and then he had to state that he couldn’t testify to that fact.

May I continue, Your Honor?

The evidence in this case established that airports, whether publicly or privately owned, had not been brought into the orbit of federal control with one exception.

The exception is found in Section 612 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, which was adopted in 1970 and became effective after the trial of this case on May 27, 1972.

That section is very peculiarly worded.