Phoenix residents, FAA negotiate plan in flight path argument
PHOENIX — Residents and the Federal Aviation Administration have decided on a plan more than three years after flight path changes sent jumbo jets roaring over once-quiet historical neighborhoods in Phoenix.
In a press release, the city said the FAA agreed to create temporary departure routes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport that mirror those used prior to the 2014 rerouting.
Once the temporary routes are in place, the FAA will develop satellite-based departure plans and will take public input. The agency did not let residents comment prior to making the flight path changes three years ago, which spurred lawsuits.
“This agreement will make sure that those most impacted by noise as a result of the 2014 changes will get quicker relief,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in the release.
“It also means that in considering future changes, the FAA will abide by the law and follow the public process that our residents deserve.”
The deal was pending court approval.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) praised the decision, calling it an “important step forward.”
“I’m especially pleased to see that the FAA will redraw its flight paths through a process that ensures Phoenix residents have an opportunity to make their voices heard,” McCain said.
“It’s critical the FAA learns its lesson and fully engages with citizens in Phoenix and across the country before implementing new flight routes.”
The agency implemented the new flight paths in September 2014 as part of an effort to streamline aircraft routing for safety and fuel efficiency for flights to and from Sky Harbor. The airport sees about 1,200 aircraft and more than 120,000 passengers arrive and depart each day.
However, the new flight paths shifted airliners over the neighborhoods. Several groups of residents sued the FAA and a court ruled in August the agency’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”
“Overnight, we woke up to aircraft flying over our neighborhood all the time,” Steve Dreiseszun, a longtime homeowner in the F.Q. Story Historic District who helped lead the charge against the FAA decision, said.
Sky Harbor received more noise complaints in two weeks than it had in the previous year when the routes were put in place.
“We had never had that before,” Dreiseszun said. “Since then, thousands and thousands of planes have flown over our homes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.