Polich: there’s opportunity in the air over Scottsdale

The proliferation of loud, low-flying aircraft over Scottsdale is usually a subject for complaint, not opportunity. But I see opportunity — opportunity for aircraft owners, pilots, flight schools, airlines, and Valley airport officials.

John Polich

John Polich

Sure, I know their first response will be to blame their own bad flying manners on the FAA and its decision two years ago this month to alter flight paths at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

But that’s like claiming “The Devil made me do it” every time you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Fact is operators of many flights can request different routing from Air Traffic Control or use their own discretion to avoid giving Scottsdale residents repeated buzz-cuts.

Here is the opportunity: What if the just one airport director or flight school owner or business jet operator chose to be the leader who convenes a meeting of their peers to resolve the problems? They would be a hero with the public and they would be a hero with the aviation industry for ameliorating the widespread voter opposition to expanding airport operations.

Consider the agenda.

Do student pilots and their instructors really need to use Camelback Mountain as a way point for the scores of daily flights back and forth over Scottsdale between Mesa Gateway Airport and Phoenix Deer Valley Airport?

Do dawn patrol “alarm clock” flights by Fedex and other regional couriers really need to climb over Scottsdale neighborhoods instead of the desert?

Do advertising news helicopters really have to operate at gratuitously low altitudes to show repetitive images of freeways and sunsets?

Is flying at FAA minimum altitudes over densely populated Scottsdale the most prudent decision when there are other choices?

The most fascinating agenda item is why many airliners approaching Sky Harbor fly south over Scottsdale homes and then far to the east to enter the landing pattern, a dog leg that is longer and takes more time and fuel than the diagonal approach over desert that existed before the FAA’s abrupt changes in 2014.

The FAA bureaucracy has rejected public outcry.

Our politicians’ intervention has failed. This makes it even more important for visionaries in the Valley’s vast, profitable aviation business to take the lead in resolving as many of these issues as possible.

Will the industry seize the opportunity? Last month I mailed a letter to the registered owners and operators of a business jet I tracked, asking why their pilot chose to fly from Sky Harbor to its home base at Scottsdale Airport by traversing the length of Scottsdale’s residential and commercial neighborhoods.

Had the pilot waited a  minute or two before turning north, the jet would have made the noisy low-altitude trip over sparsely populated desert, not Scottsdale’s core.

My letter suggested the operators have an opportunity to address the public’s concerns. I sent a copy to the Sky Harbor and Scottsdale Airport administrators and was pleased to receive a phone call in response from Scottsdale.

Have I heard from Sky Harbor or the aircraft’s owners and operators?

Editor’s note: Mr. Polich is a Scottsdale resident and reported for media in Phoenix, Detroit, and San Antonio. His blog: halfpagetakes.blogspot.com

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