With residents calling for the city to rein in growing noise from non-commercial aviation at Long Beach Airport, the City Council requested a comprehensive study Tuesday night that could examine how the airport manages flight schools and other small plane activity.

Residents living under the airport’s takeoff paths have said for months that low-flying planes circling over their homes have created quality-of-life issues leading to thousands of complaints being made by frustrated neighbors.

“What we are being subjected to all day long is an egregious barrage, minute after minute, of planes flying low and loud over our homes,” said Trina Galletta-Rufo, who said she filed 177 complaints herself Monday.

Resident Pat Rass referred to the planes as mosquitos because of the constant buzzing over his home. Rass told the council he knew he was moving next to an airport, but what residents have been experiencing recently is new, and he and others are calling for a solution.

“At this point in time, I feel like we are being abused for the benefit of the airport, for the benefit of everyone who doesn’t live under it,” Rass said.

The council appeared supportive of doing something to address the noise, but it will wait for a report seeking to answer nearly 20 questions about airport operations including a breakdown of non-commercial flights, how space is leased to flight schools and how they’re regulated, and if the city has the ability to change rules governing noise at the airport.

“We understand the concept that it wasn’t always this way, and when it changes you have to take action,” said Councilmember Daryl Supernaw, who represents neighborhoods east and south of the airport.

Long Beach is one of a few cities in the country that has a locally controlled noise ordinance, but Cynthia Guidry, the director of the airport, noted that because it accepts federal grants, the airport is a “federally obligated” airport, which means it must meet standards set out by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Guidry said recent airport construction may have contributed to some of the increase in noise because planes were forced to use alternate runways.

In addition, there is both a nationwide pilot and air traffic controller shortage, which may be increasing the number of student pilots seeking their licenses. In some instances, those flights are being diverted to Long Beach.

“What we’re finding out is it’s not just a local issue. This has been something that’s brewing across our nation,” Guidry said.

Both commercial and general aviation flights must adhere to sound limits throughout the day, which decrease during the night and early morning hours. Noise monitors along the runway monitor for violations of those sound limits, but once they’re in the air, planes enter federal jurisdiction.

Despite residents logging thousands of complaints, they don’t necessarily mean the planes have violated the city’s noise ordinance. According to the May noise report from LGB, just 48 non-commercial flights were hit with violations of the ordinance.

Changing the noise ordinance could be tricky and something officials in the past have been reluctant to do because it could provide an opportunity for a lawsuit to be filed against the city alleging that the new rules are discriminatory. The city has said in the past this could trigger the end of the city’s local control over the airport.

Whether the city has the ability to adjust noise regulations at the airport is a question that’s expected to be answered in the report coming back to the council in the next 45 days.

“I hope they understand that something is going to have to change because this is not acceptable or status quo,” said Mayor Rex Richardson, referring to aviation industry members.

Editors note: The story has been updated with the correct spelling of Pat Rass’ last name.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.