On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, aviation regulators are working with their ‘stakeholders’ to give the airline industry relief from pesky noise-abatement procedures. This translates to allowing turns immediately after takeoff, as well as turning arrivals lower and closer to the landing runway. It also means jamming local flights lower so they remain below these designed departure and arrival flows.
The impacted neighbors near London appear to be a few years ahead of U.S. residents in the area of citizen activism. They have numerous airport groups who are creating a steady flow of actions and news stories aimed at stopping airport expansion. Thanks to some insensitive NextGen implementations creating new noise ghettoes, though, U.S. citizens are increasingly speaking up. They have to, to protect their quality of life.
FAA continues to implement new routes without environmental review. In a way, they have to, for this is all part of their ‘NextGen’ program. FAA has oversold the claimed benefits of NextGen to both the Public and to Congress, because they need Congress to continue approving billions in additional funding. FAA has also made deals with the unions and the airlines, to ensure they will not speak out of line about FAA’s NextGen ambitions.
We Don’t Need NextGen to Benefit from the GPS Technologies
But FAA is conveniently not sharing the fact that the GPS technologies have been around for decades, and have been practically and routinely used in ATC for more than a decade. Instead, FAA has chosen to ‘package’ these technologies and present them as a new and costly program wrapped in their carefully-crafted, glossy sales pitch. The program frankly offers no practical safety benefit; the monies approved by Congress and spent by FAA serve mostly to justify excess FAA positions and duties (from headquarters to the regions to the union leaders who spend much of their work time ‘collaborating’ on committees at each facility) while also propping up a handful of aviation industry contractors. And when they retire, many employees at the top of FAA (and quite a few at the lower ranks, too) will do as their predecessors did: hire into second careers with these same contractors, to richly supplement their already ample federal pensions.
And What Exactly did FAA Use to Buy Airline Silence?
Well, they promised to shave off a few miles (translating to a few million in added airline profits), by removing all environmental restrictions on departures. Hence, the TNNIS departure off LaGuardia, the stressful noise impacts over Laveen and F.Q. Story in Phoenix, and the newly created NextGen noise ghettoes around American’s new hub in Charlotte, NC. And, they promised the same lower (and noisier) routes with tighter turns on arrivals, such as the SERFR arrival into SFO.
Fly Up, FAA!!
So, is it any wonder that more people are hating FAA and the airlines with greater intensity? Is there really any surprise that this sign was carried at a recent protest against FAA’s NextGen noise?