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FAA Loses Air Traffic Routing Suit (0/1)
FAA Loses Air Traffic Routing Suit
Russ Niles December 15, 20199
The FAA has been handed a court ruling that could affect the way it
routes air traffic over populated areas all over the country. A
determined group of residents of Burien, a Seattle suburb about two
miles west of Sea-Tac Airport, recently won a lawsuit over an
operational change that put dozens of turboprop regional aircraft on a
narrow track over them at 3,000 feet and below. The route was created
to get the slower propeller aircraft away from the airport as quickly
as possible to squeeze in more jets. The judge in the case told the
FAA to redesign the airspace with full consideration of the impact of
future changes on the people below.
The FAA is being sued by community groups all over the country as it
changes long-established air traffic patterns with the implementation
of NextGen technology. The agency needs to fit more aircraft into the
same amount of airspace to accommodate future growth and the Burien
turboprop route was an example of ways to accomplish that. In the case
of Burien, the court ruled that the FAA failed to consider the impact
on the neighbors in plans to increase capacity at Sea-Tac through a
$4.5 billion airport expansion that the agency is partially funding.
The FAA hasn’t commented on the ruling except to say it’s reviewing
FAA responds to noise issues out of Hollywood Burbank and Van Nuys
airports amid chorus of hisses
A Southwest Airlines’ plane leaves Burbank Airport on Tuesday, October
15, 2019. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
By MARIANNE LOVE |
PUBLISHED: November 7, 2019 at 10:50 am | UPDATED: November 8, 2019 at
A Federal Aviation Administration official was in the hot seat
Wednesday night at a task force meeting set up to hash out a solution
to noise complaints and health and quality-of-life issues from
residents over departing-flight patterns out of the Hollywood Burbank
and Van Nuys airports.
Despite jeers, hiss-boo outbursts, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor faced a
large crowd at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport hotel as he
attempted to formally explain how the agency did extensive community
outreach and received thousands of comments before implementing SoCal
Metroplex, a controversial system aviation officials say makes air
traffic into and out of Southern California safer and more efficient.
Hollywood Burbank Airport study finds flight path has shifted south
over the years, leading to noise, quality-of-life concerns
City Attorney Mike Feuer demands FAA correct ‘erroneous’ southern
shift of Burbank airport departures
At Hollywood Burbank Airport, passenger traffic soars amid strong
While airplane noise isn’t new for those living in flight patterns, a
new set of residents are complaining that those patterns have shifted
more south of the 101 and 405 freeway interchange and across the Santa
Monica Mountains as a result of the agency’s implementation of SoCal
The project, implemented two years ago, proposes to replace dozens of
existing conventional air traffic procedures with new satellite-based
procedures, which are a key component of the FAA’s satellite system
called Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
Game Center: Chargers vs.
Minnesota Vikings at Carson, Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
And that shift into their neighborhoods has caused a jet super
highway, physical and mental ailments, residue from aircraft oil on
their properties and a constant roaring jet noise, according to
affected residents in what can arguably be the busiest and most
complex airspace in the country and an extremely high fire area of the
Gregor told the audience at the Southern San Fernando Valley Airplane
Noise Task Force meeting that the agency jumped through all of the
required hoops to notify the public through newspapers, news and
social media, public platforms and the like while making the
Environmental Assessment survey available in public places like
libraries, online, congressional and state offices and public
At Burbank Airport, Ian Gregor, public affairs manager of the FAA
Pacific Division, shows Southern California Terminal Radar Approach
Control Facilities traffic flows on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. (Photo
by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
He said SoCal Metroplex was subjected to a rigorous safety analysis.
“We received more than 4,000 comments on the draft EA,” Gregor said.
Gregor said the agency is subject to federal regulations when it came
to its survey and not the stricter, more vigorous counterpart known
as CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, requiring state and
local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of
their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts if feasible.
Gregor also came prepared to answer some of the questions proposed by
the task force at its October meeting about the area’s topography,
fire dangers and potential impact to the area’s wildlife.
Topography of the area was taken into concern as it relates to flight
safety, he said, adding that every route that was part of the project
was subjected to a rigorous safety analysis before it was finalized
including any impacts to wildlife such as birds and bats.
“Before implementing the routes that were part of the SoCal Metroplex
project, the FAA did extensive modeling, simulation, testing and
validation to ensure they were safe, flyable and operationally
feasible,” Gregor said.
Finally, Gregor addressed the task force’s question referencing
waypoints, or geographic coordinates, that navigate airplanes through
Again he said the FAA conducted extensive outreach and waypoints named
SLAPP ONE and OROSZ ONE were implemented in March, 2017.
“The satellite-based route segments begin 11 nautical miles north, and
17 nautical miles northwest of Hollywood Burbank Airport,” Gregor
said. “The FAA did not change how it handles Burbank departures in the
immediate airport environment.”
He also said the FAA is conducting an Environmental Assessment on
proposed amendments to SLAPP ONE AND OROSZ ONE and reported two
heavily attended public workshops were held Nov. 7 and Nov. 8, 2018 on
While critics of the SoCal Metroplex want flight patterns to revert
back to historical patterns used before it was put into place, FAA
officials say no new route has been formally established.
The agency has said changes to flight patterns were designed to
improve safety and efficiency of aircraft operations in the area.
In the past, the vast majority of aircraft historically flew south of
the 101 before turning west, according to the FAA.
According to the FAA, the number of takeoffs and landings at Burbank
has grown increased 22.4 percent between 2016 and 2018.
Task force members have been critical of the fallout from the SoCal
Metroplex plan and its satellite navigation system.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, a member of the task force
who challenged the federal agency several times during the three-hour
long meeting, lashed out about the perceived new southern dip.
“It’s shocking to torture this community,” Koretz said at one point to
an outburst of applauses from audience members holdings signs that
read, “Fix it Now! And Solutions Now!.”
Meanwhile, residents’ concern did not abate.
Residents talked about Ventura Boulevard becoming a noise corridor,
despite it being the heart of the community, as aircraft fanned out in
a wider and deeper pattern over neighborhoods like Encino, Sherman
Oaks and Studio City.
They were asking for short-term relief while the government wheels
One community group, UproarLA, also claims the uptick doesn’t include
the airport’s planned terminal expansion.
“Paths are shifting,” said UproarLA’s Lisa Carloss. “Lying (about not
there not being a new route) is an insult to our injury.”
Wednesday was the third meeting of the task force, made up of local
elected city officials and congressional representatives formed to
investigate the possibility of returning to “historical” flight
In the past, vast majority of aircraft from the Burbank airport
historically flew south of the 101 before turning west, according to
Average altitudes are slightly higher in 2018 than they were in 2016,
according to the FAA.
While the aircraft departure path from the airport has remained
relatively similar over a decade — and the number of departures per
hour have stayed consistent over that period — the southern shift of
the main path has led to a larger proportion and frequency of flights
per hour over areas south of the 101 Freeway.
Since June 2018, 1,444,359 complaints have been filed between both
airports — a number that goes up by several thousand every day.
And yet, the FAA has barely responded, according to Koretz.
“I’d rather figure out how to solve the problem than destroy all these
people’s lives,” Koretz said. “You made a lot of these people’s lives
a living hell.”
He also recalled a telephone conversation with one constituent
initially interrupted by jet noise and not 30-seconds later another
jet passed over before the reason for the call could even be
“This is so unthinkably bad,” he said.
Last month, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer threatened to sue the
FAA because of a lack of public notices, comments and reviews.
In his Oct. 18, Feuer also demanded air controllers direct outgoing
flights onto previous paths and gave them 30 days to comply.
The next task force meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 4.
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