Following a meeting in Washington between her staff and senior officials from the Department of Defense (DOD), Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) says she has received assurances that military flights into Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) will be reduced beginning next month. What's more, DOD has pledged to establish outreach programs to address noise issues and to notify both the community and airport of any future surges in training activities.
This action comes following several letters from Congresswoman Bono Mack to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, asking him to explain the increased number of flights into PSP -- a 58% jump in 2011 alone -- and urging the military to re-evaluate its needs. As a result of that study, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing will suspend operations at PSP effective April 2, 2012. Since 2008, the number of military flights into Palm Springs has nearly doubled, increasing from 1,227 to 2,202. But the most significant increases occurred in 2011, in part due -- according to DOD -- to a one-time increase in Navy student pilot training exercises. There was also a surge in pre-deployment activities of the Marine All Weather Attack Squadron, which has since departed for Japan.
"While I remain fully supportive of the military's need to maintain current readiness rates, the dramatic increase in takeoffs and landings -- especially in 2011 -- raised some legitimate and serious concerns," said Congresswoman Bono Mack. "After re-evaluating its needs, DOD has agreed, for now, to reduce flights into PSP beginning next month. This is a positive development, and I thank Secretary Panetta for his attention to this matter. I am also encouraged by Secretary Panetta's decision to establish outreach programs with the community and PSP. This partnership will help to mitigate any future problems."
DOD officials say the decision to cease operations of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing into Palm Springs will not impact military readiness.