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New FAA-implemented flight paths cause concern for Phoenix residents

PHOENIX– Phoenix residents were at first rattled by their shaking doors and windows, accompanied by the deep grumbling of jet engines.

Now, they’re just angry.

The noise comes from a change in flight patterns implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration that is supposed to reduce fuel usage, among other benefits.

“The FAA implemented these procedures to improve safety and efficiency,” said Ian Gregor, FAA spokesperson.

But many residents in central Phoenix neighborhoods and historic districts are speaking out against the changes because of an increase in noise caused by over a hundred planes flying directly overhead throughout the day and night. The new flight path roughly follows Grand Avenue, and residents say they “never received notice” of the changes.

But what Sky Harbor International Airport is receiving is complaints—and a lot of them. In the last two weeks alone, Sky Harbor’s Noise Information office has answered 248 questions or complaints from 177 different households.

Yet the FAA maintains they didn’t believe there would be any cause for concern.

“The FAA conducted safety and environmental analyses of the new procedures,” said Gregor. “Although none of the projected noise increases were considered significant under the National Environmental Policy Act, we know residents in one area have noise concerns and we are working to better understand those concerns.”

Many residents also have voiced worry that property values in their neighborhoods, which currently are at about $200 per square foot, will decrease heavily due to the noise.

“If I could wave the magic wand, I’d like to change this back to the old flight path,” Steve Dreiseszun, an Historic District resident, told the Arizona Republic.

“There’s an old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ This may have been an unintended consequence, but somebody wasn’t really paying attention. I have the sense this decision was made without good local input.”

A community meeting will be held about the issue at 6:00 p.m. on Oct. 16 in the Phoenix City Council chambers, at which both FAA and Sky Harbor officials are expected to attend along with elected officials and residents.