FAA schedules public outreach workshops; 1 in Scottsdale

An aircraft flies into Scottsdale Airport (Submitted photo)

The Federal Aviation Administration has scheduled three February public outreach meetings — one in Scottsdale — to address the hundreds of thousands of noise complaints received from a 2014 change in flight paths.

The FAA’s outreach is a chance for Scottsdale residents to become engaged in the community process following a city of Phoenix lawsuit, Scottsdale Aviation Planning and Outreach Coordinator Sarah Ferrara says.

The scheduled meetings are:

  • 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, at Maryvale High School Cafeteria, 3415 N. 59th Ave., Phoenix;
  • 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, at Cesar Chavez High School Cafeteria, 3921 W. Baseline Road, Laveen Village; and
  • 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, at Horizon High School Cafeteria, 5601 E. Greenway Road, Scottsdale.

Representatives from the FAA and the city of Phoenix will be present and available to answer questions, according to a the Scottsdale Airport website. The workshops are to include various materials explaining the proposed changes.

Residents with concerns about overflights and noise related to the FAA flight path changes can attend a workshop and/or submit comments on at: https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/nextgen_near_you/community_involvement/phx/

Spanish interpreters will be present at the meetings, the FAA website states.

On Sept. 18, 2014, the FAA implemented changes in flight paths using NextGen satellite-based navigation as part of an effort to streamline departures and arrivals of the 1,200 flights to and from Sky Harbor International Airport every day.

NextGen, short for Next Generation Air Transportation System, is a national procedure aimed to improve the National Airspace System. With the implementation of NextGen, the FAA made significant changes without a proper environmental assessment or notification to the public, the Phoenix lawsuit outlined.

Ultimately, the new routes condensed and lowered flight corridors over thousands of homes, natural preserves and parks.

From September 2013-August 2014, airport staff received approximately 300 noise comments from 56 households. Since the air traffic program was implemented, 105,502 comments from 1,483 households have been filed through 2016, a city of Phoenix Aviation Department 2016 Noise Report shows.

The 2016 noise report shows that Scottsdale yielded the second most Sky Harbor noise complaints, with 9,370 complaints from 262 households in 2015; and 16,842 complaints from 121 households in 2016. This is up from only 37 complaints in 2014 and seven in 2013.

On June 1, 2015, the city of Phoenix filed a lawsuit against the FAA over flight path changes and extreme discomfort to the community. The city alleged the agency created a negative impact on the community without proper due process, notification and consideration. Impacted historic neighborhoods filed suite against the FAA soon after.

On Aug. 29, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of the city of Phoenix and the neighborhoods.

The judgment agreed the FAA violated its duty to consult with the city of Phoenix in assessing whether the new routes would substantially impair the city’s parks and historic sites, a press release states, noting that the FAA did not have enough information to find the routes would not substantially impair these protected areas.

On Nov. 30, 2017, the historic neighborhoods, Phoenix and the FAA entered into a memorandum regarding implementation of the court’s order, vacating the September 2014 flight paths instituted at Sky Harbor. The memorandum provided a two-step process for reverting the area navigation western departure routes that were the subject of legal action.

Step One: Create temporary western departure procedures that approximate pre-September 2014. This is to be done with support from the city and with the community as part of the process.

Step Two: Replace step one’s temporary western departure procedures with satellite-based procedures for the area navigation. The FAA will consider community feedback regarding these and other procedures throughout the Phoenix area as part of the outreach process.

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