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FAA delays flight-path change over Phoenix suburb

In this Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, photo a monitor shows post 2014 Airspace Change Departure Tracks of airplane flight paths from the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport during one of several area workshops organized by the FAA to reach out to residents held at the Maryvale High School cafeteria in Phoenix. More than three years after waking up to find window-rattling flights rerouted over their homes in an airborne highway, residents of Phoenix's historic downtown districts said they finally felt the FAA was listening to them. (AP Photo/Anita Snow)

PHOENIX — City officials in Phoenix have been told that plans to change some airplane routes from Sky Harbor Airport over neighborhoods have been delayed until late spring.

Councilman Michael Nowakowski posted a note residents who live in the Laveen community on Twitter about the decision late last week.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the proposed new west-south routes passed over Native American communities and the sides were discussing whether the paths would negatively affect the tribal area.

Until those talks were completed, the old routes would remain in place. New routes north will change as planned before the end of March.

In his letter, Nowakowski, who represents District 7, said, “I know it is disappointing to residents of the Laveen community that these route changes will trail the other route changes, however, it is required that the FAA communicate with the Tribal community.

“The FAA has made good progress with Tribal agencies in the consultation process and we will soon be back to the pre-2014 flight paths.”

The FAA must consult those kinds of changes for historic areas and parks. Laveen stretches from about 27th Avenue to part of 76th Avenue west and from the Salt River to South Mountain.

Phoenix sued the government agency in 2015, a year after routes were altered. The new paths sent jumbo jets over quiet historic neighborhoods, where homeowners and renters alike protested, filing noise complaint after noise complaint and said they were not consulted.

The FAA started revising flight paths and procedures around the United States in 2014 under the NextGen plan.

That scheme uses more precise, satellite-based navigation to save time, increase how many planes airports can handle, and reduce fuel burn and emissions.

Noise complaints poured in from Orange County, California, to Washington, D.C., as flights took off at lower altitudes, in narrower paths and on more frequent schedules.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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