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LAX's north runways are safe and should stay as they are, NASA panel says

February 19, 2010 | 10:37 am

A NASA panel says the north runways at Los Angeles International Airport are safe and should remain in their current configuration, according to a report released Friday.

The panel said that while other proposals -- including widening the distance between the two north runways -- might make the airport runways safer, "the risk is so low, reducing that risk by a substantial percentage is of limited practical importance.”

A committee of academics working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released a preliminary copy of the report Friday morning at the Flight Path Learning Center near LAX.

Nearby residents had been concerned about the report, fearing it would persuade elected officials to push a runway and surrounding airport land into their neighborhoods.

Airport officials have been trying to determine whether a greater distance between those two runways would reduce the number of near-misses involving arriving and departing jets.

The academic committee was charged with looking at five options. One would involve doing nothing, while a second would push the northernmost runway 100 feet north into Westchester. A third would push the northernmost runway north by 340 feet. A fourth would result in the elimination of one of the two runways on the north side of LAX. A fifth would call on the airport to relocate one of its north runways 340 feet south – a move that would require the demolition of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at the airport.

-- Jeff Gottlieb near LAX and David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall

Photo: Los Angeles Times file

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