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Complaints over altered FAA flight paths at Sky Harbor headed to federal court

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in two cases over noise complaints at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Friday.

The city of Phoenix filed its lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration in 2015 after the agency changed flight paths at the airport as part of a national program for safety and efficiency. The city claimed the new routes significantly increased noise in several neighborhoods.

Mayor Greg Stanton said when the suit was filed the city has tried to resolve the issue numerous times, but the FAA hasn’t proposed any meaningful changes.

Stanton said Phoenix is “left with no choice but to sue.”

Neighborhood associations filed their own complaint against the FAA months later. That complaint will also be heard by the court.

Both complaints ask the court to find the agency at fault for how it went about changing the flight paths.

The FAA previously argued it consulted with a variety of Phoenix agencies before making the changes. However, city manager Ed Zuercher said he lost faith in the FAA and Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake even pleaded with the FAA to try and make changes.

In 2016, an official said about 50 percent of flights do not follow the new FAA system.

“We take thousands of noise complaints and we can also see where the planes are going, and we can see that about 50 percent of the time they aren’t going exactly where they said they would be going,” Deborah Ostreicher, the city’s assistant aviation director, said then.

Reached for an interview on Monday, Ostreicher said flights are still failing to follow the new FAA routes.

KTAR’s Ashley Flood and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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