FAA to hold public flight-path planning meetings with Phoenix neighbors

FAA to hold public flight-path planning meetings with Phoenix neighbors

Alexis Egeland, The Republic | azcentral.com

The Federal Aviation Administration is partnering with the city of Phoenix to hold three community meetings over the next week.

The "open house"-style meetings will give neighbors an opportunity to give the FAA feedback on its proposal to change the westward flight plans out of Sky Harbor International Airport.

The meetings will be 5-8 p.m., at Maryvale High School on Feb. 6; Cesar Chavez High School on Feb. 7; and Horizon High School on Feb. 8.

The plan is to reinstate the paths that were used before September 2014, when the FAA changed them in an attempt to streamline flights. The Phoenix community was not notified of this change, and it caused a significant increase in airplane noise in historic neighborhoods near the airport.

Phoenix and a coalition of historic neighborhoods sued the FAA in 2015, alleging the agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it implemented flight paths that increased air traffic over some city parks and neighborhoods by 300 percent.

In August, the Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of the neighborhoods, ordering a revision to the historic paths. These meetings are the first step in that process.

The appeals court agreed with residents and Phoenix officials that the FAA didn't properly analyze the impact of flight path changes. 

"The FAA found a 'potential (for) controversy' but did not notify local citizens and community leaders of the proposed changes as the agency was obligated to, much less allow citizens and leaders to weigh in," the court said in its decision.

The FAA has said it communicated with the city's Aviation Department for two years prior to the changes. But the city said — and the court agreed — that the FAA only spoke with "low level" staffers.

In 2015, the city disciplined four employees who had knowledge of the changes but did not communicate with city leadership.

This piece was originally published on azcentral.com.

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