Two Congressional bills may help address Phoenix flight path issues

The Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which includes a provision calling for evaluation of the changed incoming flight path into Sky Harbor without notification to the public, passed through the Senate in April. (Craig Johnson/DD)
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The Phoenix Aviation Department reported that the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which includes a provision calling for evaluation of the changed incoming flight path into Sky Harbor without notification to the public, passed through the Senate in April.

The reauthorization and another Congressional bill introduced recently will begin to address the fallout from the 2014 flight path change that angered many community members, according to officials who spoke at Wednesday’s Downtown, Aviation and Redevelopment subcommittee meeting.

“The reauthorization bill requires the FAA to revisit those changes that took place in 2014 and to work with the airport and community on evaluating those paths,” said Anne Kurtenbach, airspace and noise program manager of the Phoenix Aviation Department.

Since February 2, 2016, 19,000 noise complaints have been reported via flight paths mobile app.

Kurtenbach, shared the introduction of a new bill, H.R. 5075, involving health concerns associated with airplane noise within residential communities neighboring Sky Harbor International Airport.

“The new bill is to study the health impacts of noise and how it is impacting the quality of life for the communities that have been impacted,” she said.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., introduced H.R. 5075 to the House of Representatives on April 27.

The bill was also referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure within the same day.

Health aspects that the new bill will focus on include residents’ health in observance of asthma exacerbation, sleep disturbance, stress and high blood pressure.

The study proposed within the new bill would also pinpoint other major cities and regions facing issues within the FAA’s implementation of new flight paths such as Boston, Chicago, New York and Northern California.

Kurtenbach said that the creation of the new bill, along with the passing of the reauthorization bill, through the Senate is promising.

“There are provisions in the (FAA reauthorization bill) that would definitely benefit Phoenix,” Kurtenbach said.

Kurtenbach said that at the federal and national level, the bill would also require a provision for an advisory management committee to review the FAA’s process and progress in engagement efforts with airports and communities impacted by excess noise.

The reauthorization bill was introduced by the U.S. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster on Feb. 3 and was created “to transfer operation of air traffic services currently provided by the Federal Aviation Administration to a separate not-for-profit corporate entity.”

Julie Rodriguez, deputy aviation director of the Phoenix Aviation Department said “these are provisions within a big piece of legislation that our representatives in Congress, Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake as well as Congressman Gallego, have worked hard to get in the House.”

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012, a piece of legislation authorizing appropriations for the FAA to streamline their own projects, was set to expire at the end of last year and has been extended to July 15.

Though passed through the Senate in April, it remains unclear whether the reauthorization bill will be passed by the House or whether an extension will be reauthorized by Congress.

Contact the reporter at [email protected].

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