Current Heatwave Too Hot: Causing Commercial Flight Cancellations

A pair of articles look at the start of Summer and the forecast heatwaves. The first article actually notes that the Bombardier CRJ may not safely operate above 118 degrees Fahrenheit; this common regional feeder, used by American, thus has to be grounded at their Phoenix hub.

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

Aviation is thoroughly dependent on fossil fuel consumption, and is the fastest way that each of us can contribute to record-level (and still growing) atmospheric CO2 concentrations. And, importantly, hubs greatly increase fuel consumption, because more passengers fly longer distances when transferring at hub airports not on the direct route of flight.

(click on image to view source)

Will ‘60 Minutes’ Help Us Expose and Correct FAA’s Nationwide NextGen Mess?

(click on image to view source Facebook page)

People everywhere – from Bethesda to Federal Way, and from Culver City to Belmont – know the failures of the NextGen program:

  • that the program is a fraud, pretending to implement new technologies that have actually already been in common use for decades;
  • that FAA is pushing NextGen solely to get Congress to dole out more money, to prop up more FAA waste;
  • that, to get the airlines (and their main lobby, Airlines for America, A4A) to not oppose NextGen, FAA is focused on removing all noise mitigation procedures and local agreements, at all airports;
  • that FAA is enabling the airlines to expand flights per hour without limits (hub concentration);
  • and that FAA is also enabling the airlines to fly repetitive routes that are lower and closer to the runways (route concentration), with a wholesale disregard for how these routes are destroying even our oldest communities.

Historically, our economic and political system has been a point of pride, in no small part because it has had a press that operates freely, a press that would reliably expose frauds and compel the correction of failures. People have been well served when reporters dig deep, unspinning the spin and propaganda.

There has been a lot of evidence in the last year, that this ‘free press’ is dead, that in fact most elements of the mainstream media now serve corporate and political agendas. Likewise, we have seen too many elected officials who seem to be incapable of comprehending the impacts, who instead can only understand serving commerce so they can get campaign contributions. ‘60 Minutes’ can do better, can help restore the balance we have lost, and in the process can help rebuild public confidence in the mainstream media.

(click on image to view source Change.org petition page)

Will ‘60 Minutes’ listen? If hundreds of us take a few minutes and send emails, letters, tweets and calls, expressing how NextGen is impacting our homes, will ‘60 Minutes’ do the diligent research and expose the depth of FAA’s NextGen failure? Let’s hope so.

There are hundreds of smart people, across the nation and standing ready to help ‘60 Minutes’ write the powerful news story needed by thousands.

Here are your contact options…

FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/60minutes/
TWITTER @60Minutes
EMAIL 60m@cbsnews.com
PHONE (212) 975-2006
POSTAL MAIL Story Editor, 60 MINUTES, CBS News
524 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

One Table Shows the Reality of NextGen

Here’s some data to ponder as we start into a new year: a table, showing commercial operations at each of FAA’s OEP-35 airports, from 2007 onward.

Focus first on the pink column, three columns from the right edge; the airports are ranked in descending order, by the percent decline in annual operations, comparing 2015 with 2007.

Note that the largest declines, at Cincinnati [KCVG], Cleveland [KCLE], and Memphis [KMEM] are huge: down 61%, 53%, and 43% respectively. Note also, the declines are even larger when you compare Total Annual Operations in 2015 vs the various historic peak years for each OEP-35 airport, in the two columns on the far right; for these figures (which include general aviation and military operations data), all airports have declined, ranging from 74% to 2% and averaging 24%.

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

Three facts stand out from this table, and they all strongly contradict the sales pitches that FAA and industry have been collaborating on the past few years:

  1. Note the bright green line across the table. Just under it are five airports: Charlotte [KCLT], Reagan National [KDCA], Miami [KMIA], Seattle [KSEA] and San Francisco [KSFO]. These are the only five of the OEP-35 airports that recorded an increase in commercial operations from 2007 to 2015; i.e., 6 out of 7 OEP airports SLOWED substantially while the national population grew.
  2. The airport identifiers marked in a dark-red background color are the airports that in 2016 had extensive noise complaint histories (documented online, and in the mainstream media) related to route concentrations under NextGen. Routinely, FAA has imposed these routes without adequate public review, abusing the ‘categorical exclusion’ process. Numerous legal actions have resulted.
  3. For all OEP-35 airports combined, commercial operations have steadily declined 11% from 2007 to 2015, nearly every year. This is industry contraction. And furthermore, the vast majority of U.S. commercial airports peaked in the 1990s, some more than two decades ago!

WIth the new year, we’ll see a new adminstration and changes at FAA and DoT. Don’t be fooled by the impending onslaught of yet another round of propaganda. The U.S. NAS is operating at far below historic peaks and continuing to trend downward. Growth is rare, and limited to key airports where airlines are concentrating flights into superhubs that severely impact local quality of life. The only true beneficiaries of NextGen and ATC privatization are industry stakeholders (especially the airline CEOs, FAA officials, lobbyists, and manufacturers, plus a few elected officials), who will narrowly share the profits while completely ignoring the larger environmental costs.

We don’t need oversold technology fixes pitching RNAV and RNP solutions that have been used for decades; technologies that could and would serve us all beautifully, if FAA would assert its authority with balance, and manage capacity at the largest U.S. hub airports. We need airports to serve communities while being truly environmentally responsible. And for that to happen, we need a new era of transparency and accountability at FAA. We need reform.

[KLMO]: Oral Arguments Today, in the Colorado Court of Appeals

A classic example of the sacrifices commonly made by aviation impact activists is happening today, in a Denver courtroom. A single airport operator, Mile-Hi Skydiving, makes money by using their fleet of skydiving planes, outfitted to climb faster AND make more noise. So as not to annoy the actual near-airport residents, the planes are flown a few miles away and the climbs, which commonly drone on for 15- to 20-minutes, impact the residents below. The problem came many decades after the airport was built, coinciding with aircraft purchases and modifications by Mile-Hi owner Frank Casares.

As is nearly always the case, FAA is doing nothing to help resolve the problems. Indeed, doing the quite the opposite, FAA is enabling the operator (Mile-Hi) and ensuring these impacts will persist and even worsen. Just as they do at East Hampton, Santa Monica, Mora, and a dozen or so NextGen-induced noise canyons (e.g., [KLGA], [KPHX], [KCLT], [KSEA], [KBOS]), FAA is  obstructing every effort for meaningful LOCAL CONTROL of local airports. Somehow, we are supposed to suspend rational thinking and believe that, if the local City Council wanted to impose reasonable restrictions on the lease they have signed with Mile-Hi, it would compromise safety to have them execute quieter climbs or limit their operations to say a 6-hour block each day? Likewise, FAA (and the industry they protect from the Public!) expects us to believe this total capitulation to the profit-motives of a single skydiving operator is critical for our National Airspace System (NAS) integrity?

Bullshit. Shame on you, FAA et al, for continuing to obstruct reasonable attempts toward local resolution. Sleep, and the quality of our home environments, is important … far more necessary than your propping up the narrowly distributed profits of operators like Frank Casares. Let’s bring some balance back to these situations: more LOCAL control at our local airports.

Thank you, Kim, Citizens for Quiet Skies, and the others who have bravely spoken up to fix this local problem. Against a hostile local press, a corrupt and commerce-biased state court system, you fight on. And your battles help many others, from East Hampton to Santa Monica to Mora.

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

How Can FAA Be Oblivious to the Impact of This Noise?

Here’s a video by a homeowner, north of the JFK airport, on Long Island. A weather pattern recently set in that resulted in ATC issuing north flow departures, off runways 4. The RNAV departure procedures, implemented as part of the over-promoted NextGen program, have flights turning lower and closer to the airport than before … one after another after another. The result has been nearly incessant noise, with the sounds in this recording repeating like a Chinese water torture. It is driving local residents crazy, having to hear this noise, which was never as much of a problem prior to NextGen.

Have a listen to this very clear recording. More recordings like this need to be made, and called in to FAA and airport authority ‘complaint lines’, so those with authority can understand why regular people are so upset and losing sleep…

(click on image to view source video at Facebook)

(click on image to view source video at Facebook)

If there is something ‘positive’ to be gained from this situation it is that it may just help FAA to finally come around and learn: the DNL noise metric fails to protect people from aviation noise impacts. Simply, you cannot ‘average out’ a series of disruptive departing aircraft noise intrusions and call it ‘OK’ because the average is less than 65 DNL, or even 55 DNL. Doing so may clear the way for more frequent airline departures – and enhanced airline profits – but it does so at a serious cost to quality of life and health for the impacted residents.

This example focuses on Long Island, but the NextGen noise impacts are out of control all across the nation. A lawn sign in Phoenix said it very well: kphx-20160830scp-lawnsigns-portion-of-flyer-re-nextgen-enviro-failures

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

kphx-20160918-2-years-ago-faa-broke-phx-graphic-by-s-dreiseszun

(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.

kphx-20160830scp-lawnsigns-portion-of-flyer-re-nextgen-enviro-failures

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.

FAA’s NextGen Failure: a Case Study in Phoenix

An interesting tweet included a link to this 4-page PDF, a flyer produced by the noise office at Sky Harbor Airport [KPHX], identifying some of FAA’s NextGen failures:

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

It’s nice to see an airport authority Noise Office using their own airport operational data and graphics to disprove the NextGen hype being pitched by FAA and the industry players FAA serves. Not so nice to see how often FAA et al try to hide the data/graphics.

Phoenix appears to be one of the leading communities in advocacy for ensuring environmental protections are incorporated into NextGen developments. If there is a weakness in their presentation, it is that their webpages and this 4-page flyer often link back to biased webpages posted by FAA and other pro-NextGen outfits.


See also:
  • ENO Paper – an archived copy of the 36p study cited at footnote 1. ENO is one of the many ‘think-tanks’ that makes money creating faux-independent analyses/reports, all aimed at lending artificial credibility to programs being pitched by the Av-Gov Complex.
  • www.skyharbor.com/flightpaths – the airport authority webpage cited on pg.4

FAA Offers $10 Million Giveaway to Buy Support for NextGen

The NextGen program that is destroying communities while supplementing airline profits has been needing more money to advance further. But, the program is seeing increasing resistance, especially from impacted homeowners. So, in order to garner more support and create the appearance of public acceptance needed to convince Congress to invest more public money into NextGen, FAA has announced an investment of $10,000,000 to subsidize ADS-B Out installations on small aircraft.

(click on image to view source article at AOPA.org)

(click on image to view source article at AOPA.org)

The new program will rebate up to $500 per aircraft to as many as 20,000 owners, which FAA believes to be roughly one-eighth of eligible aircraft. Bear in mind, rebate eligibility is restricted to single-piston-engine, fixed-wing aircraft that have not yet added this equipment, which FAA is requiring no later than January 2020, for all pilots who want to access ‘busier’ airspace. In other words, while NextGen is a program aimed at serving the airlines, FAA is directing its supposedly scarce resources to the lowest performing, personal-use aircraft … the vast majority of which will never have an urgent need to fly near any of our thirty busiest airline airports.

As some of the smarter online commenters have noted, what usually happens when a federal subsidy is announced is the industry jacks up the price of the product/service being subsidized. And also commonly, the subsidy is just a ‘gift’ for a huge number of recipients who had already planned to purchase the product/service anyway. So, in total, it is effectively FAA giving $10 Million to the aviation electronics industry. As if on queue, the aviation media reports that alphabet-group lobbyists are ‘applauding’.

20160607scp.. portion of article re $500 ADS-B subsidy, alphabet groups (GANews)

(click on image to view source article at GANews)

Congress never put this $10 Million scheme through an appropriation process. Congress never authorized this substantial expenditure. This $10 Million is just FAA, acting arbitrarily and on its own, as a lobbyist seeking to tip to the balance toward more NextGen funding by Congress. Which begs the question: if FAA has $10 Million or more to arbitrarily spend, how else might they spend OUR money to serve the Public?

How Might FAA Better Invest $10 Million?

Here’s two simple ideas (readers are encouraged to share their ideas, too!):

  1. for the NextGen-impacted people of Phoenix, offer a small subsidy to the airlines to fly the old departure routes out of KPHX. Try this for just 2-months, pay Southwest and American a couple million tops to cover their added cost, and see what it does to noise complaints and residential quality of life.
  2. for the NextGen-impacted people in the NYC area, take advantage of the current major project to upgrade the LaGuardia terminal (at KLGA). This is a great opportunity for a ‘test’. For a period of at least 6-months, get the airlines to voluntarily reduce their daily schedule by say 25%, and hourly flow rates to say a maximum of 25 takeoffs per hour. With these lower and more manageable KLGA traffic levels, revert to the old (and since-abandoned) noise abatement departures such as Whitestone Climb. Get the airlines to voluntarily make this happen, then see what a scaled-down LaGuardia does to improve efficiencies and reduce impacts for both JFK and Newark. The results may be surprising.

Aviation Noise Psychology: How Repetitive Routes May ‘drive you crazy’

KPHX.20150829.. noise meter held by C.McGlade

The article research included purchasing a sound-meter. Many aviation noise activists are investing in this type of equipment, so they do not have to rely on noise measurements commonly manipulated by FAA and FAA’s ‘industry partners’.

Here is an article worth reading: ‘Why the Phoenix Sky Harbor flight-path noise may drive you crazy’, by Caitlin McGlade, published in August 2015. A PDF copy of the article is provided in this Post, with highlights (and one footnote) added by aiREFORM.

The article covers much of the impacts on specific neighborhoods, but the most interesting part of the article is how well the writer reviews the psychological impact of aviation noise. See especially the sections from page 2 through page 6 of the PDF copy: ‘The Unpredictable’, and ‘The Low-Frequency Rumble’.

The article also refers to a 214-page study of noise impacts by the KPHX RNAV routes, done by Landrum & Brown in early 2015, and paid for by the City of Phoenix (view a PDF copy here).

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

The footnoted point cannot be over-emphasized: FAA and the industry are flat-out lying when they sell NextGen as an improvement in U.S. commercial aviation safety and a way to reduce airline emissions. They are using these as selling points, but the REAL OBJECTIVE of NextGen routes is to discard decades-old noise abatement routes, so as to help the airlines grow larger profits. Here is a closer look, debunking these two selling points:

  1. On the safety point, U.S. commercial passenger aviation is very safe, with a proven record showing the vast majority of fatal accidents are caused by fatigue, inattention and poor decisions (by both pilots and controllers, who commonly are quite bored and lulled into complacency, then easily distracted, even by personal electronic devices). FAA has presented no evidence substantiating the claim that the new routes being implemented under NextGen actually ‘improve safety’, because there is no such evidence. Their claim is simply an empty selling point.
  2. On the emissions point, think of it this way: under the ‘NextGen’ banner, ATC is issuing turns lower and closer to airports. This reduces total fuel consumption for each flight by a small fraction of a single percent (but, cumulatively, it adds up to millions saved by airlines in fuel costs and pilot-time costs). By comparison, major airlines lock passengers into traveling 10%, 20%, even more than 30% actual flight distances to get from point A to point B via major airline hubs. For example, suppose you are flying from Portland, OR to Burlington, VT (and this is just one example; the concept applies to hundreds of U.S. city-pairs). You could theoretically fly three ways: nonstop-direct (which we would all prefer), or via a hub along the direct route (which enables airlines to offer more flight options), or via a hub away from the direct route (which enables airlines to fill all their seats). Clearly, the least efficient choice, in terms of both time and emissions, is via the off-route superhub; a flight on Delta via the Atlanta superhub, increases flight distance by 32%, from 2,064 miles (direct KPDX-KBTV) to 2,717 miles (via a KPDX-KATL-KBTV routing). Current aviation fees strongly incentivize the overdevelopment of major hubs in cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Minneapolis and Phoenix, and this produces nonstop, highly impactful streams of arrivals and departures.  So, the key point is, if FAA really cared to reduce emissions, they would not waste their efforts trading local noise impacts against miniscule emissions reductions, as they are doing with these NextGen RNAV routes. Instead, they would push for an airline fee structure where each passenger ticket would reflect total direct-miles flown – and be priced proportionately, so as to strongly disincentivize tickets that route passengers via out-of-the-way superhubs. If FAA successfully implemented this one simple and rational change, they could then brag about reducing overall U.S. airline emissions by easily 10% or more … much, much more than the insignificant savings on NextGen RNAV routes.

See also:
  • 10/30/2015 – NextGen: A Formal Complaint by Phoenix Neighborhoods
  • 6/24/2015 – GIGO: Lessons Learned from FAA’s Bad NextGen Deployment at Phoenix
  • 6/22/2015 – The Investigation of the KPHX NextGen Departure Procedures Implementation
  • 6/4/2015 – [QUOTE]: Floor Speeches by Rep. Gallego & Rep. Schweikert
  • 6/1/2015 – City of Phoenix Files Lawsuit Against FAA’s NextGen Implementation
  • 5/18/2015 – A Two-Hour NextGen Reprieve in Phoenix
  • 4/18/2015 – ANALYSIS: Flight Tracks Showing Noise Impacts in the Phoenix Area
  • 10/16/2014 – Video of Regional Administrator Glen Martin, Pausing in Disbelief While Reading FAA’s Written Statement to the People of Phoenix

[QUOTE]: A Fluff Interview of American Airlines’ CEO Doug Parker

QUOTE

“…The entire interview is one huge lie….”

– a typical reader comment in an AviationWeek article, featuring a fluff interview of the American Airlines CEO

When interviewed, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker coughed out the obligatory plug for ATC privatization with this comment:

It’s of the utmost importance to continue the strides we’ve made to make the United States the safest country for aviation, and we need to find new ways to fund innovation and better efficiencies, including Air Traffic Control reform. Our industry is at a crossroads right now in Washington as we’re seeking a transformational change to the way the U.S. ATC system is financed and governed.

The strides made by American/USAir include using Categorical Exclusions to impose NextGen procedures that are destroying quality of life near the largest airport hubs dominated by American. In fact, the list of NextGen-impacted airports includes nearly every major hub with a schedule dominated by American: Charlotte, Chicago-O’Hare, Phoenix (approximately 51% of flights), and Washington-National (approximately 50% of flights), as well as LaGuardia (approximately 30% of flights), and Boston (approximately 24% of flights).

If Doug Parker and American Airlines REALLY wanted to make customers happy, they would recognize they serve not only passengers but also communities. They would then insist that FAA manage and downsize hub scheduling, even disincentivizing airline hubbing, to ensure the residents of each community are well served yet not inundated with excessive repetitive noise impacts and aviation air pollution.

Click here to read the original blog post, or here to read an archived PDF copy with aiREFORM annotations.