FAA’s NextGen in Phoenix: Two Years, Zero Relief

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(click on image to view source Post at ‘Let’s Make Some Noise’)

It was two years ago today that FAA flipped on the switch for a new set of RNAV procedures in and out of Phoenix. Noise complaints jumped: from 469 the year before to more than 13,000 in 8-months. A group who unexpectedly became activists emerged, seeking to restore health and liveability in places like Laveen, and in the historic residential neighborhoods trending to the northwest of the airport, such as along Grand Avenue.

According to the documents used to justify the changes, the changes would help the airlines to save a few million dollars each year, because flights would make their turns lower and closer to the airport. When profitable corporations save money, it appears as increased corporate profits; CEOs get bonuses, shareholders smile too. But, who pays for this, and what are the impacts, the costs? Indisputably, more people are losing sleep, more conversations are being broken, and more schoolchildren are being distracted. If a true cost-benefit analysis had been done, the benefits to the airlines would NOT justify the costs imposed on the communities.

Here’s something to ponder: if you spend just a few minutes crunching the numbers, you can establish that if every person living in the Phoenix area paid a $1 annual head tax, that tax could be given to the two hub airlines at KPHX (Southwest and American) to PAY THEM to revert to the older routes. Flights would resume using the natural noise mitigation corridor that was used for decades, the Salt River lineation east and west of the parallel runways. Airline profits might actually INCREASE (since the head tax total likely exceeds the fuel cost for reverting the departures), and flightcrews might even get a bit more money in their paychecks (if they add a minute or two to their logged flight-time). Most importantly, substantial relief would be realized by hundreds of thousands of citizens.

Of course, even a trivial head tax such as this should not be needed. What is needed is a federal agency that works for the People, too, not just for the aviation industry; a federal agency that truly weighs the costs and the benefits, to protect as many people as possible from the real adverse impacts caused by repetitive airline flights near major hubs.

Any Progress Two Years Later?

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Glen Martin in Phoenix, 10/16/2014: body language says it all.

Essentially, no progress. Many are trying, but FAA continues to act bureaucratically incapable of doing anything.

Of course, when weather has blown through Phoenix, FAA immediately alters the flights paths … so, the agency has shown they CAN implement change quickly, as needed. But, despite the flood of complaints and the news stories and even lawsuits, FAA just bungles along, providing no help toward a remedy. One of the most memorable examples of bungling: when Regional Administrator Glen Martin paused in disbelief, while reading an official statement to impacted residents; even he could not stomach the lies.

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Yard sign in a Phoenix neighborhood

If there is a silver-lining in this mess it is the activists. From day one, people cared. They spoke up, they asked questions, they attended hearings, they worked to protect their homes and their families. An extraordinary number of the best citizens in Phoenix refused to ignore the changes, and refused to accept lame non-answers by elected officials and FAA representatives. They became educated and worked together to educate others. And, they set clear examples for others across the nation to follow, when other communities are impacted by FAA’s fraudulent NextGen debacle.

See also… (blue dates link to online content)

8/30/2016
FAA’s NextGen Failure: a Case Study in Phoenix
aiR Post with a scrollable copy of the 4-page flyer produced by the noise office at Sky Harbor Airport. The flyer identifies some of the many failures found at Phoenix and other NextGen implementation airports.
3/28/2016
Aviation Noise Psychology: How Repetitive Routes May ‘drive you crazy’
aiR Post with scrollable copy of an in-depth article about KPHX noise impacts, written by Caitlin McGlade.
10/30/2015
NextGen: A Formal Complaint by Phoenix Neighborhoods
6/24/2015
GIGO: Lessons Learned from FAA’s Bad NextGen Deployment at Phoenix
aiR Post looking at how FAA manipulated the review process to ensure implementation of impactful procedures that were never meaningfully reviewed. Includes a scrollable PDF copy of the CatEx signoff by Caroline Poyurs.
6/22/2015
The Investigation of the KPHX NextGen Departure Procedures Implementation
aiR webpage featuring a scrollable PDF copy of the 22-page investigative report by Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell LLP. This webpage includes links to the extensive collection of exhibits, too.
6/1/2015
City of Phoenix Files Lawsuit Against FAA’s NextGen Implementation
3/23/2015
Noise Study for KPHX RNAV-NextGen Route Changes
214pg report by Landrum & Brown, quantifying impacts at 37 sites.