Santa Monica Airport: One Step Closer to Local Control

KSMO.20160516.. Press Release re 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to remand (1p)It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. And, it is common (even more so, these days?) for the status quo to delay EVERYTHING for the simple reason that it perpetuates their advantaged position. So, in a situation such as the decades-old fight for local control of their airport, the people of Santa Monica just have to keep on keepin’ on.

Nearly three years ago, the City of Santa Monica filed a lawsuit seeking to establish the right to control the local airport. FAA (and the federal Department of Justice) fought back and successfully convinced a District Court Judge to kick the can down the road. Now, more than two years further along (and still no relief from jet fumes, leaded fuel, and noise), the City has prevailed in an appeal, and the Judge’s February 2014 decision has been ruled improper.

Yesterday, the people scored a small victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued their decision, remanding a case back to the District Court. Here is a link to an aiREFORM page with a transcript of the March 11th arguments, and below is a copy of the 7-page ‘Memorandum’ outlining the decision:

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.


See also:

Airports and Cities: Can They Coexist?

As often happens, a good lead was tweeted regarding an interesting article. This time, @NoFlyDay tweeted with a link to an article by Ed Ayres, Airports and Cities:  Can They Coexist?, archived at WorldWatch.org. The article was first published in the July/August 2001 issue of  World Watch Magazine, for which Mr. Ayres served as editor.

The article points toward the enormous land-grab to create the Denver International Airport (DIA) or [KDEN]. That massive project, undertaken from 1989 into 1995, was intended to accommodate major hubs that pre-existed in Denver, for both United and Continental. But, Continental decided to abandon their Denver hub (and decades later was merged with United), causing annual operations to decline substantially. This huge new airport has never come even slightly close to operating at the capacity it was built for.

The article also notes how, in shifting the burden to airline passengers to drive long distances away from their homes, total air pollution was substantially increased … and all at public cost. All this was done ostensibly to better serve the general public, but in truth served only to improve airline profits. *until ten years ago, the strategy at Southwest was to completely avoid the major hubs for the legacy airlines, such as ATL, BOS, DEN, MSP and SFO … and even when their strategy was changed, they were careful to not really ‘compete’ with the dominant carrier at each hub.And, as is the case throughout the U.S. commercial aviation system, Denver has virtually zero competition on routes, and serves as a hub dominated by one airline: United (with a lesser hub by Southwest, who only began serving KDEN in 2006*).

Two other interesting aspects to contemplate while reading this article (and the related documents accessible via the links below):

  1. first, all of these documents were researched and created years PRIOR to the inception of NextGen by FAA and industry stakeholders; and,
  2. second, the article came out just prior to the 9-11 attacks, which arguably were used to justify enormous ‘Shock Doctrine’ changes in all aspects of U.S. commercial aviation, most significantly modifying security, ATC procedures, and environmental impact mitigations.

Here are links to a PDF copy as well as some related documents archived at aiREFORM.com:

Enroute Delays are Routine as Part of NextGen, Even for Slower Hubs like SEA

The previous aiREFORM Post presented a sequence of eight arrivals from California to SeaTac [KSEA], during a half-hour window from 10:22 to 10:52 on Thursday May 12th. The sequence showed some very substantial enroute delays, mostly over Oregon. Well, it turns out the exact same series of arrivals had very similar (and again substantial) enroute delays on the very next day, during the time window 10:13 to 10:49 on Friday May 13th. Here is a JPEG compilation:

KSEA.20160513.. compiled ARRs, similar enroute delays as with 5-12-2016

Here are the important points to be made, looking at these KSEA arrivals for both days:

  1. For all flights, with the exception of the enroute delays, the routes are incredibly direct … proving that the current system is fully capable of maximizing efficiency by minimizing distance flown. That is, we do NOT need any new technologies to accomplish direct flights.
  2. In the big picture, SeaTac is a relatively simple ATC example, in that it is remote (far northwest corner of the nation), far removed from saturated delay-prone hubs (mostly in the northeast), has no major complications related to other airports, and has a very simple triple-parallel runway configuration.
  3. Despite this simplicity, empirical evidence viewed online indicates ATC begins imposing enroute delays to KSEA arrivals, even in perfect clear weather, whenever the arrival rate gets to around 30-40 aircraft per hour or more.
  4. SeaTac’s problems relate entirely to its current use as a hub by Alaska, Delta, and Southwest. Delta is the new player, aggressively initiating a hub expansion in 2014. At KSEA, Delta’s growth is creating many periods each day, with arrival flurries that necessitate enroute delays and long, inefficient landing patterns (e.g., extended downwinds to 20-mile+ finals).
  5. That the problem is caused by too many arrivals is proven by looking at the arrival data, and comparing days of the week that are slowest against days of the week that are busiest. Routinely, Thursdays and Fridays are two of the busiest days, while Saturdays are nearly always the slowest day of the week. As presented in this pair of aiREFORM Posts, the eight flights are all delayed on both Thursday and Friday. Odds are, if you study the routes for any of these same eight scheduled flights as conducted on a Saturday, you will find that no enroute delays were issued … simply because ATC is working 10-20% fewer arrivals.
  6. To accommodate an industry preference for large hubs (which maximize airline profits), FAA’s approach in the past decade has become to serve only the airlines and at the expense of taxpayers/citizens. Coincident with the evolution of the NextGen program, FAA’s efforts have included a wholesale abandonment of procedures that mitigate environmental impacts, while also doing the following:
    1. maximizing flow rates in/out of the airport (the term used in the industry is ‘runway throughput’);
    2. removing all airport-specific noise mitigation procedures (some of these date back to the 1970s, and billions have been spent installing noise insulation reference these procedures);
    3. creating RNAV departure routes that minimize distances flown, by allowing the earliest possible turns, in some extreme cases immediately after taking off;
    4. creating RNAV arrival routes that minimize actions by both ATC and pilots, proceduralizing the arrival into a steady repetitive stream along a narrowly defined route with a steady descent rate; a key part of this strategy is to get pilots to let the autopilot fly the arrival;
  7. Logically, FAA could manage/avoid hub-related delays by simply regulating hub traffic levels, to ensure arrivals never exceed a sustainable arrival rate upper limit. But, FAA refuses to regulate this, apparently due to their desire to accommodate the industry.
  8. The Av-Gov complex (and, yes, that includes shills like Bill Shuster) is pitching NextGen, but the technology essentially already exists, and has been in use for decades. Nonetheless, and despite rational opposition, they continue to pitch this in order to spend billions padding the financial positions of Av-Gov players (which includes many FAA employees who retire early and collect pensions but supplement their retirements working in industry!), while also using ‘NextGen implementation’ as an excuse to implement noise-impactful new RNAV routes.
  9. These two aiREFORM Posts look at the impacts related to KSEA, but the exact same situation is ongoing (and even worse) at many other major airports, including KSFO, KPHX, KCLT, KBOS, KLGA, KORD, KDCA, and KJFK.
  10. We can have all the whiz-bang technology we can buy, but if we allow the major airlines to schedule even brief arrival flurries that exceed airport capacity (which is ultimately a function of runway configurations), we will see delays. And, these delays not only magnify the environmental impacts of aviation, but they also wipe out all efficiency improvements that are potentially realized with more direct RNAV routes.
  11. The agency is failing, and our elected officials are also failing us. They are too busy fundraising, abandoning their duty to serve constituents. Like FAA, Congress has become too beholden to money.

 

MHFC: NextGen Enroute Delays & Noise Impacts over Vashon Island

An incredible airshow: Michael Huerta’s Flying Circus.

20160408.. Michael Huerta's Flying CircusIn service to the airlines, FAA has carefully worked to bypass environmental review procedures while also embarking on a scheme to abandon wholesale decades worth of noise mitigation procedures. In their effort to increase ‘throughput’, turns are being made lower and closer to the airports, for both departures and arrivals. This would reduce fuel consumption by a small amount, but the savings are routinely more than lost when excessive airline scheduling necessitates that ATC must issue delay turns (even entire delay loops) during the enroute/cruise portion of the flight.

It is really a circus. ATCs work harder, and pilots also work harder. More delays are incurred, all so that FAA can justify increasing the repetitive-noise-pattern impacts on neighborhoods that previously had no aviation noise issues.

This Analysis looks at how NextGen is destroying quality of life for residents of Vashon Island, west of SeaTac [KSEA]. As shown in the map below, with FAA’s NextGen redesign of the Seattle airspace, ATC is compressing small planes to fly lower in corridors crossing east-west over KSEA (specifically, note the magenta arrows and magenta text boxes). This is to accommodate lower (and heavier) arrival flows on north-south downwind legs roughly 6-miles west of SeaTac (over the island’s eastern half). KSEA.20160512.. portion of VFR sectional focused on S ARR flow impacts Vashon level-offsOn a beautiful clear day (May 12, 2016), KSEA was landing south. In a south flow, all arrivals from California/Oregon are aligned northbound on a published RNAV route over the east half of Vashon Island. Thus, Vashon Island residents become subjected to the noise of one flight after another. Problematically, with the NextGen changes, this noise impact pattern is repeated all day long and all night long.

A scrollable PDF of the Analysis is presented below. Note that the Analysis also looks at how NextGen is being oversold and consistently fails to deliver on the ‘benefits’ claimed by FAA and others. In this example, every KSEA arrival from California was turned early after taking off, and then given a direct flight to the KSEA arrival fix at Battle Ground, just north of Portland. But then, once enroute, ATC issued significant delays to each arrival, eliminating all time and fuel savings benefits of the NextGen departure procedures. These delays were necessitated by the excessive arrival flows that happen at hub airports. In this example, KSEA is a major hub used by both Delta (including Compass, or CPZ) and Alaska (including Horizon).

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

If FAA chose to, they could substantially mitigate these Vashon Island noise impacts. Notably, a natural descent corridor exists a few miles to the east, over Puget Sound. NextGen technologies would easily allow FAA to create a simple customized noise-mitigation arrival route over the middle water area. But, unfortunately, it appears FAA is set on cookie-cutter downwind legs.

Greenwashing the Significant (and discretionary) Impacts of Aviation

20160509cpy.. The Magic of Green Marketing'

(click on image to view source/original article at UpperBlackEddy.us)

Airlines for America can spin all they want, to try and convince the world that the  negative impacts of air travel can be conveniently overlooked, but it does not change the reality: that aside from war and arson, air travel is the most intensive human activity today, for the consumption of fossil fuels and the creation of greenhouse gasses. Always, these examples of greenwashing are aimed at helping people justify more consumption while ignoring the consequences of that consumption. But, our planet is finite. We simply cannot afford to continue these Ponzi schemes that say, we do better and better if we consume more and more. More consumption is now proving to mean more destruction.

Stepping above the debate and denialism, if the global warming and climate change issues are as dangerous as they conceivably are, and given that the impacts appear to be rapidly accelerating, it will do us no good to allow our planet to be destroyed. Do we really want to come to a day, perhaps to be lived by our babies born today, when a few rockets will launch in a vain attempt to save the human species?

If those rockets send our most politically powerful elites, will the species have a chance by sustaining the genepool of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

Someday, if these rockets send off our most politically powerful elites, will the species have a chance … by sustaining the genepools and characters of people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? (click on image to view source tweet by FAA, about a recent commercial rocket launch)

A Rebuttal of JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes’ Recent Call for Faux-Modernization

(click on image to view original tweet)

(click on image to view original tweet)

Boston Business Journal has printed an opinion piece by the CEO of JetBlue, Robin Hayes. Very similar pieces have appeared in the past few months, offered by other airline CEOs and the lobbyist Airlines for America, all spreading the same unsubstantiated claims that ATC privatization and NextGen implementation are needed. It strongly appears that, this week, the rotation went to JetBlue, hence the piece. And, given the mainstream media’s consistent subservience to commerce, it comes as no surprise that Mr. Hayes’ opinion piece was eagerly accepted and passed on for public consumption.

Here is a PDF copy, with highlighted footnotes added by aiREFORM.com:

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

‘They Paved Paradise & Put Up a NextGen Route’

A pivotal song in the early environmental movement is Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell.

Fresh in 1970, and still just as brilliant 46-yrs later. Turns out, the tune lends itself well to lyrics that point to the many failures of NextGen.
20150528.. Big NextGen Noise (lyrics)

Thank you, Joni Mitchell, for your great work and your Heart of Gold!

FAA’s NextGen Noise Has No Limits

The California Redwoods are a national treasure, a deep sensual experience. The Redwoods are yours to see, feel, smell and ponder … but you won’t want to hear them.

KSFO.20160425scp.. sossantacruz sign along road in redwoodsBring hearing protection; the experience has been destroyed by FAA’s NextGen.

Pennsylvania to Vote in Primaries This Tuesday

(click on image to view tweet with short video clip)

(click on image to view tweet with short video clip)

20121105pic.. Flooding at KLGA post, Delta jetbridge

Flooding at La Guardia Airport caused by Hurricane Sandy, in 2012.

Today is the last Sunday before the presidential primaries in five key states, including Pennsylvania. I ran across a tweet with a short video clip at a Bernie Sanders rally, and a speaker noting that climate change will cause the airport at Philadelphia to become flooded. I have thoroughly studied airports across the nation, and have blogged before about flooding risks impacting Florida as well as LaGuardia and other major airports. But, until hearing this Bernie 2016 speaker, I had always assumed the Philly airport was at a safer and higher elevation. So, I looked up the data; the speaker was absolutely correct.
The major hub airport at Philadelphia [KPHL] is on the north bank of the Delaware River, not far from the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay. A look at the Airport Diagram shows that all four KPHL runways are very vulnerable to flooding; low points on each of the four runways are between 8-ft MSL and 10-ft MSL. While FAA is spending billions to further overdevelop KPHL, we are ignoring the risks of flooding, which grow greater each year. All to subsidize airline profits and prop up wasteful airport programs and corrupt incumbent politicians.

(four low elevations marked with yellow boxes)

(four low elevations marked with yellow boxes)

Pennsylvania gets to vote in the primaries this week. We have endured too many decades of top-down control by the two major parties, and the balance continues to tip toward expanding the wealth gap, enriching elected officials (like the Clintons), all while a full-blown oligarchy is setting in. We need real and rational change, and it is more easily done now than later.

There is only one candidate who accepts the real threat to our planet caused by our excessive consumption of fossil fuels. There is only one candidate who is not beholden to money interests such as the fossil fuel industry, the Av-Gov complex, the banks, pharma, etc. There is only one candidate demanding an end to our corrupt ‘pay-to-play’ politics … demanding real reforms so we have effective governance that is transparent and accountable. That candidate is Bernie Sanders.