Exposing a NextGen Fraud: the so-called ‘Conventional’ ZigZag Routes

It is quite clear that, with the election results and the imminent White House occupancy change, coordinated efforts are ramping up to try and push through the latest pet projects: ATC privatization, and accelerated NextGen funding. These efforts are sourced in some backroom ‘collaboration’ between top-level FAA officials, key aviation leaders in Congress, and the industry (the airlines, the manufacturers, and the lobbyists).

As has always been the pattern, the Av-Gov Complex will knowingly lie to sell their schemes. One of the most graphic lies of the present cycle is variations of this graphic:


This misleading graphic is liberally posted in news articles, FAA reports, etc. It implies that today’s air navigation systems are primitive, needing to upgrade via a progression from zigzag routes (left image) through RNAV routes and eventually RNP routes. An important fact being hidden, though, is that RNAV and RNP routes already exist, as they have for years. (SOURCE: pg.7 of FAA’s SatNav News, Summer 2011 edition)

Time and again, this image is pushed to help brainwash the Public (and especially Congress) to believe the current ATC system is incredibly archaic and shockingly inefficient, with flights zigging and zagging all across the continent. They pitch NextGen as ‘transformative’, while ignoring and concealing the facts that:

  1. commercial passenger flights have been flying mostly direct flights for decades, and thus these graphically presented zigzags are a complete lie;
  2. RNP & RNAV procedures have been available and usable by these flights for roughly two decades, and thus the whiz-bang NextGen changes are not really changes (we can accomplish the expensive NextGen goals by smartly using what we already have); and,
  3. an entirely new class of delays has been recently invented – enroute delays, at altitude; typically 100-200-miles from the destination airport, these are used to smooth out arrival surges because FAA refuses to restrict appropriate arrival rates to accommodate known airport capacity limits.

FAA et al need to be called out on this misinformation. It turns out, you will find two versions of this deceptive diagram in Chapter One of nearly every recently completed ‘Environmental Assessment’ for various airspace changes around the nation. Here are some examples, from recent OAPMs (Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex); look at the identical content in any of these cookie-cutter documents, at these pages:

  1. June 2013: Draft EA for DC OAPM (216p; see pages 6 and 14 in chapter one, marked pages ‘1-6’ and ‘1-14’)
  2. March 2014: EA for Atlanta OAPM (122p; see pages 1-6 and 1-14)
  3. July 2014: Final EA for NorCal OAPM (134p; see pages 1-5 and 1-11)
  4. December 2014: Draft EA for Charlotte OAPM (118p; see pages 1-5 and 1-11)
  5. August 2016: Final EA for SoCal OAPM (144p; see pages 1-6 and 1-12)

‘NextGen Fixes’ Tend to be Slow, and Tend to Serve to Advance the Propaganda

Thankfully, some progress has been seen for the [NextGen impact case] at [KSFO], but the repetitive noise impact problems persist nationwide, and in fact, appear to be worsening. In almost all cases, the rare ‘NextGen-fixes’ have three key elements:

  1. the NextGen-fixes further crystallize FAA’s ongoing delay tactics; i.e., just getting to the time when an announcement can be made with a new NextGen-fix eats up months and even years. Moreover, the declared ‘solution’ consistently contains absurdly long timelines for each subsequent goal or step.
  2. the NextGen-fixes tend to help the Public nowhere near as much as they serve FAA and the elected officials. The announcements make elected officials look like they are serving their constituents, thus bolstering their incumbency chances … even though these same officials could and should be far MORE aggressive in demanding performance and immediate corrective actions by FAA. And,
  3. the NextGen-fixes continue to sell NextGen as a solution, when in fact it is the problem. I.e., the news releases and other documents are constantly laced with keywords and quoted lines from FAA’s fraudulent NextGen salespitch.

Here’s a short (just over 1-minute) home-video showing and explaining the impacts FAA’s NextGen SERFR arrivals are having on residents between Santa Cruz and San Francisco.


(click on image to view source video at Facebook)

The Push for Rescinding SERFR: Select Committee Meets Tonight in Mountain View

FAA’s March 2015 NextGen implementation for SFO arrivals has created huge negative impacts upon people from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto. The final meeting of the Select Committee is tonight, in Mountain View. The meeting offers a public forum to speak up about your concerns and, hopefully, get FAA off its butt to repair the damages NextGen has inflicted. Of course, impacted residents are encouraged to attend tonight.

(click on image to view source website: Save our Skies Santa Cruz, SoSSC.org)

(click on image to view source website: Save our Skies Santa Cruz, SoSSC.org)

Click on the image below to hear the statement (PDF copy), as read by Los Gatos resident Diane Matlock at the June 15th Select Committee meeting.

See also:

Same Technologies, Same Impacts … in Canada, too.

A tweet by T.A.N.G. (Toronto Aviation Noise Group), notes how an innocuous notice was made years ago, inviting residents to offer comments for proposed new flight routes. CYYZ.20160626cpy.. NAVCANADA 'innocuous ad inviting citizen comments on flight path change proposals' (attd to tweet by TANG)What the notice and other activities did NOT make clear was that the routes were being concentrated, so that selected areas would become inundated with repetitive aircraft noises, one flight after another … and these patterns can continue non-stop, even for weeks.

The same lame (and deceptive) strategy has been used repeatedly, at airports around the world, including in the U.S. Repeatedly, FAA and other ATC agencies are doing a shoddy job, failing to engage citizens while implementing substantial and impactful changes.

Below are two videos: one for Toronto, and another for the California Bay Area.  The first video is by T.A.N.G., and the second was posted by Stanford Journalism. Nearly identical impacts, created by the same pattern: federal agencies abusing their authority to accommodate industry profit while creating a real environmental cost.

A Very Good Article About KSFO NextGen Impacts, Causing Sleep Loss in Pacifica

The article, by Mike Moffitt, includes an excellent collection of images, and some very sharp reader comments. Here is one spot-on comment by a reader who sees the whole picture on what FAA is REALLY doing with NextGen…


“…The FAA’s been plotting and planning the NextGen system for the past 20 years. They wanted to change air traffic routes in 1994 and they knew it would require public environmental review. So did they do any reviews?

NO. Instead, they spent 20 years’ worth of our tax dollars crafting the changes, figuring out how to get funding, getting congressional approval, obtaining the support of their unions and making collaborative deals with airlines and manufacturers. Then in 2012, once it was ready to implement the changes, the FAA got Congress to pass legislation that waived the longstanding requirement to conduct public environmental review of new air traffic routes! Now they aggressively sell NextGen as ‘green’ and waste taxpayer money conducting months and years of after-the-fact ‘studies’.

Basically, the FAA plotted for 20 years to screw over the public it’s supposed to serve. THAT’s the story that needs covering!….”

Click here to read the original article at SFGate.com, or read the PDF copy below. Note especially the pair of images, showing before and after flight tracks for KSFO and KOAK (see the images marked Image 2 and Image 3).

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

One interesting (albeit off-target) comment at the SFGate article webpage suggested new and longer runways at KSFO. This is just bunk. The length of the SFO runways, or even adding a new runway, will do nothing to mitigate these latest NextGen impacts. The root of the problem is FAA’s focus on aiding airline profits, and facilitating new routes without meaningful environmental review. Fact is, airlines want to take selected airports and explode their ‘hub’ model, with high percentages of passengers never even leaving the airport … just passing through, connecting from an arrival flight to a departure flight. Airport authorities like this model, too, as it increases FAA grant revenues. But, it stinks for people under the new concentrated routes.

What needs to happen is take away FAA’s control, which is being abused, and return meaningful local community control that ensures a balance, to include noise reduction and mitigation, maybe even hourly operations limits and curfew hours.

Hundreds Attend Meeting to Protest NextGen Noise Impacts in Northern California

Bay Area elected officials are putting some pressure on FAA to fix impact problems created by the botched NextGen implementation. An estimated 450+ people attended a public meeting held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on May 25th.

FAA Regional Administrator Glen Martin flew up from LA to deliver his same old monotone pretension that FAA cares and is ‘working on it’ (see his comments beginning at time 0:58 on this news video). Mr. Martin’s speech is a near carbon-copy of his monotone delivery to Phoenix residents in October 2014 (click here to view that video as well as a transcript). Notably, there has been ZERO REAL PROGRESS in Phoenix in the subsequent 19-months! In fact, FAA’s failure to act has instead generated legal actions by residents of newly sleep-deprived neighborhoods. On top of that, the problem is ongoing across the nation, especially at the busiest airline hubs: Boston, LaGuardia, JFK, Baltimore, DC National, Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, and Seattle. All this solely to enable the airlines to make turns closer to the airport, at lower altitudes, to increase airline profits.

See also this radio interview of one of the many bright aviation noise impact activists in the Bay Area, Ben Shelef:

Curious why people are upset? Check out this simple video by a family living under the impacting routes:

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.

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.

Video Brilliantly Presents NextGen Impacts

(click on image to view video)

(click on image to view video)

Check out this video by Bay Area Activists. This is the latest in a fourteen-month effort, involving hundreds of residents who seek to restore peace and quality of life diminished by NextGen’s SERFR arrival.

The creativity and research by these Bay Area activists is absolutely brilliant. And more activist groups keep forming; try these links: QuietSkiesLosAltosHills, QuietSkiesMidPen, SkyPossePaloAlto, SOSSC.

See also:
  • 2/19/2016 – SERFR: FAA’s ‘Acoustical Sewerline’ over the Santa Cruz area
  • 10/13/2015 – Citizen’s Noise Monitoring (website)
  • 8/26/2015 – NextGen is Being Used to Justify Lower & Noisier Flying While Ignoring the Impacts

‘Just Say No’ to a Third Runway at Heathrow

The impacts are already too large at two runways, and the air travel industry is evolving to reduce the need for Heathrow as a major international hub. So, let’s be done with this ridiculous idea of adding a third parallel runway.

Consider how technologies have changed. There was a time in the U.S. when all transcontinental flights had to stop at ‘hubs’ in the mid-continent, making for very busy airports in places like Wichita, Kansas. These former hubs are now all but ‘ghost-airports’, because we developed more powerful engines and larger fuel capacities, enabling much longer flights.

London’s Heathrow Airport should follow that same path, and the role of this airport as a major international hub should decline substantially. Geography made London a logical (and necessary) refueling hub location for Transatlantic flights, but that necessity has ended in recent decades. We now have direct flights from the U.S. West Coast to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Oslo, Copenhagen, Munich, Istanbul, Dubai, etc. So, we really do not need to stop anymore, in London or Dublin or even Iceland.

It makes far more sense for flights between North America and Europe to carry passengers directly from actual origin cities to actual destination cities. The carbon impact is minimized, the air traveler’s time-cost is minimized, and noise impacts upon airport neighbors are also minimized. And one more benefit: an evolved system with more thin routes takes pressure off of major U.S. hubs like KJFK, KBOS, KCLT, KORD, KPHX, and KSFO … and this has potential to greatly reduce the local impacts being magnified by the ongoing NextGen implementation debacles.

We can have better air service for people. We can minimize impacts on neighborhoods and the planet. The key to moving forward on this is to get national regulators and politicians to quit perpetuating inefficiencies, to quit subsidizing the airlines with excessive airport expansion. And in the UK, this means:


The ‘machine’ that keeps pressing for a third Heathrow runway is motivated by greed. Here is a copy of a recent news article about their campaign efforts, with analytical footnotes added by aiREFORM.

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