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FAA proposal could affect flights at Valley airports

PHOENIX — The Federal Aviation Administration is in a public-hearing phase of a new proposal that could have a significant impact on airports around the country, including in metro Phoenix.

Currently, the FAA does not factor engine failure into flight paths for recommendations for nearby structure heights, since such a malfunction is not considered part of normal flight operations. However, the new proposal seeks to account for engine failure, including the compensation a plane would need in order to clear obstacles in case of such an emergency.

That means the FAA could change its regulations on tall buildings near airports, and Deborah Ostreicher with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport said the proposal could have a noticeable impact locally.

“One of the reasons why we have such opportunity here for business and tourism is because it’s so easy to come and go here, at least it is now,” Ostreicher said. “We don’t want to do anything as a community, the Valley (or) the state to limit that.”

The FAA cannot stop real estate deals and cannot force a building or structure to be changed. However, if it considers a building or structure hazardous in light of the current proposal, the agency could cut back on anything from the amount of flights to what types of planes can fly into and out of an airport.

“If you build the building or build the structure but then people can’t come and go here from around the country and around the world, then that’s going to have a pretty negative economic impact,” Ostreicher said.

She said it’s up to the community to not jeopardize the vitality of airports with future developments, and that working together with the FAA and airport is important.

Ostreicher said Sky Harbor continually monitors new developments and seeks to be involved with anything that could present a hazard to safety or the activity of the airport.

The public-comment period for the proposal has been extended until June 30 and can be viewed here.