Opinion

Kern: Scottsdale is right to sue the FAA

Posted 5/11/21

Kevin Maxwell’s opinion article is half right in his assessment of aircraft noise in Scottsdale, but totally misses the mark on the FAA’s Sky Harbor NextGen process and the havoc it has …

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Opinion

Kern: Scottsdale is right to sue the FAA

Posted

Kevin Maxwell’s opinion article is half right in his assessment of aircraft noise in Scottsdale, but totally misses the mark on the FAA’s Sky Harbor NextGen process and the havoc it has wreaked across our city.

After the FAA refused good faith negotiations, Phoenix and the Historic Districts were forced to successfully sue the FAA to get it to remand new NextGen departure flight paths after the U.S Court of Appeals judged them illegal. With Scottsdale’s legal effort now following the Phoenix precedent with exactly the same issues, it seems odd to call it a “fool’s errand.”

It was singularly the FAA’s new NextGen eastern departure flight paths themselves that were moved from more diverse and rural areas to fly right down the center of Scottsdale that created the resident upheaval in Scottsdale communities. Since Phoenix and the Districts were only concerned with western departures, they did not include the eastern paths in their settlement with the FAA. But that does not mean the eastern departure paths were excluded from the Court’s ruling.

There will be no ping pong between Phoenix and Scottsdale. The eastern and western flight paths are totally different geographically and are not active at the same time.

The City of Scottsdale, its mayors and City Council members have responded appropriately to work with residents to combat the degradation of Scottsdale’s treasured quality of life. Scottsdale presented alternatives to the FAA offering reasonable modifications which the FAA rejected out of hand without any discussion whatsoever.

Yes, Kevin, the FAA considers the issue over, settled and put to bed. But Scottsdale and its residents do not. This errand is well worth the effort when you read the Court’s opinion from the Phoenix judgment that stated “...we ... vacate the Sept. 18, 2014, order implementing the new flight departure routes at Sky Harbor International Airport...” In other words, all new departure routes at Sky Harbor were found to be illegal.

Please read the city’s legal brief of April 26. You can find it on the SCANA website at airplanenoise.org. After reading it, we would hope no one would consider it a “fool’s errand.” While there is never an assurance of victory with any legal proceeding, the FAA leaves no other choice but to sue, or capitulate.

Kevin is correct that Sky Harbor is not the only source of airplane noise in Scottsdale. The general aviation airports he mentioned unquestionably create significant noise issues for many residents and is an important issue that must be addressed. But don’t muddle the two together. They are both real but require different solutions.

Thousands of residents are thankful the City of Scottsdale is representing them and trying to restore the lifestyle they once enjoyed. It has nothing to do with “wealthy” neighborhoods. It has to do with a federal bureaucratic agency, the FAA, that refuses to listen and tramples on the citizens it serves. It has everything to do with doing the right thing.

Editor’s Note: Bud Kern is chair of SCANA (Scottsdale Coalition for Airplane Noise Abatement) and a Scottsdale resident.

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