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Scottsdale pressuring FAA to modify flight plans following resident complaints

Posted at 8:21 AM, May 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-27 11:21:45-04

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The City of Scottsdale is pressuring the Federal Aviation Administration to modify its departure paths for Sky Harbor International Airport after residents complained about an increase in flight noise over their homes.

The city council voted to allow Mayor Jim Lane to speak on behalf of the city and offer up two proposals for modified flight paths developed by city contractors. The flight noise first became an issue in 2014 after the FAA implemented its "NextGen" air traffic system meant to improve safety and efficiency.

"If you're outside trying to have a conversation with your neighbors or friends -- some sort of social gathering -- it's pretty disruptive," said Bud Kern, chairman of the Scottsdale Coalition for Airplane Noise Abatement.

Kern, who lives in the DC Ranch community, formed the coalition in 2017 after noticing an increase in planes and subsequent noise over his neighborhood. He told ABC15 around 700 people living in northeast Scottsdale pledged their support for his effort to revert the flight paths back to their previous routes.

"We bought these properties and our homes knowing there weren't flight paths here, knowing that we would enjoy the peace and quiet and the Scottsdale culture that we came here to enjoy," he said, "so the game was changed on us."

Data gathered by SCANA and Scottsdale shows three departure paths closely traveling the same route over the city and passing over or near the DC Ranch area. Kern said during busy times of the day, planes -- and the disruptive noise -- occurs every 90-seconds.

Two years ago, Phoenix and a group of residents won a lawsuit against the FAA requiring the agency to revert some of its new flights paths to the previous routes. That ruling did not impact the Scottsdale flight paths in question.

The FAA held community workshops earlier this year and allowed public comments through last week to gather input on potential route changes, including one that would move certain flight paths east and potentially reduce the Scottsdale ground noise by about a third. The proposal the city is submitting would double that, with the potential to reduce the noise in northern parts of the city by around 65-percent.

While Kern said SCANA's goal is to completely revert the flight paths back to what they were before 2014, he conceded Scottsdale's plan would greatly approve the noise he and the group's supporters are currently dealing with.

"The FAA moved to us," he said. "We did not move to the FAA."

There is no timeline as to if or when the agency will make a decision on any route changes.