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Kern: Phoenix misinterpreted FAA data on flight paths


In a recent article in the Daily Independent, reporter Mark Carlisle wrote about the city of Phoenix warning the FAA not to reopen the Implementation Agreement between the two parties to address the City of Scottsdale’s lawsuit against the FAA regarding flight paths.

Phoenix is correct in that the agreement should not be reopened and the FAA should keep its word that any further changes would be via a new action.

[READ MORE: Phoenix threatens to sue FAA again if it doesn't stick to agreed flight paths]

The article refers to Deputy Aviation Director Jorden Feld making comments to the Aviation Advisory Board Planning and Development Subcommittee. Mr. Feld correctly summarized some of the history that has transpired regarding the FAA’s NextGen flight paths the U.S. Court of Appeals declared illegal in the subsequent victory Phoenix won against the FAA.

The article then references the public meetings the FAA had with Scottsdale residents in April of 2019 where it presented a “Concept One” and “Concept 2” for modifications to flight paths affecting Scottsdale. Concept One, addressing residents primary concern, would have moved about 30% of the Sky Harbor eastbound departure traffic over Scottsdale further to the east.

Your article attributed Mr. Feld with saying community wide feedback from Scottsdale showed people disliked Concept One by a 10-to-1 ratio; but SCANA disputes his analysis of the data, which came from the FAA’s own summary of comments received at the meetings as follows:

         “On Concept One, we received a total of 133 comments as categorized below:
         • 18 comments in support of the concept
         • 92 comments in support of the concept if modifications are made
         • 18 comments against
         • 5 comments neither for or against”

These numbers would show that those residents who commented did in fact support Concept One with 110 (83%) supportive comments out of the 133 total. The 92 supportive comments that wanted modifications generally wanted the concept to move more than 30% of the traffic.

We contacted Mr. Feld and he told us that his office considered these 92 people being opposed to the concept because while they supported it, they wanted additional modifications. In his mind that meant they opposed it. We don’t understand this logic as it was apparent these 92 people were supportive of change; they simply wanted more change.

SCANA itself submitted a comment supporting the concept and asked for additional modifications. But we assuredly still supported the basic concept. Consequently, we don’t feel his analysis is representative of the intentions of these 92 people.

These and a much greater number of other Scottsdale residents impacted by the FAA’s illegal flight paths are overwhelmingly supportive of, and demanding, changes. Why else would the City of Scottsdale be suing the FAA if its residents didn’t want change?

In the future, SCANA respectfully encourages Mr. Feld and other Phoenix officials (former City Manager, Ed Zuercher, made the same erroneous claim in his letter to the FAA’s Wester Regional Administrator on June 23rd) to be more considerate of Scottsdale residents and present these numbers as they were reported by the FAA, and not illogically slot comments into categories that are not representative of the facts nor their intent.

We hope Phoenix and Sky Harbor administrators are supportive of Scottsdale’s litigation which they themselves undertook for the same reasons. We must all cooperatively work together to preserve the Arizona lifestyle that every valley resident deserves to have restored.

Bud Kern is chairman of SCANA, the Scottsdale Coalition for Airplane Noise Abatement. Visit airplanenoise.org.