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City of Phoenix, Neighborhoods and FAA Propose Joint Resolution to Flight Paths Lawsuit ​

by Public Relations | Published On: Nov 30, 2017 | Last Updated: 

PHOENIX – Just over three years after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) changed the flight paths at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport without notifying the community, there is a path to resolution. On August 29 of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of the City of Phoenix and the historic neighborhoods on the suit filed in June 2015.

In the Court’s written opinion, it agreed with the City and Historic Neighborhoods’ argument that FAA approval of the new flight routes in September 2014 violated the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Department of Transportation Act.

The Court found that there was not adequate public outreach before the changes of 2014. The judgment ordered that the FAA “vacate” the September routes and procedures. Following this ruling, the FAA, the City of Phoenix and the filing historic neighborhood associations have jointly developed a plan to move forward. According to the FAA, an outright canceling of the September 2014 procedures would increase airport delays and compromise safety.  As a result, all sides negotiated a plan that would mitigate noise, without the above concerns. The agreement is dependent upon the Court granting a joint petition filed by all parties, as well as conducting certain safety and environmental reviews for the proposed plan.

The plan has two steps:

  • Step One: The FAA, with support from the City, would engage in community outreach while creating temporary departure procedures to the west, approximating the pre-2014 routes. These procedures are planned to be used starting in April 2018.
  • Step Two: After Step One is complete, the FAA would develop new satellite-based procedures for the western departures and consider feedback on procedures throughout the Phoenix area. They would engage in community outreach throughout this process.

If the Court approves the Petition for Rehearing filed today, the above steps would begin, with the first anticipated community meetings in February 2018.  The documents are available on  Please see the attached quotes from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and members of the Phoenix City Council.

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Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, America’s Friendliest Airport®, has an annual economic impact of more than $38 billion. Every day approximately 1,200 aircraft and more than 120,000 passengers arrive and depart at Sky Harbor. PHX Sky Harbor is funded with Airport revenue. No tax dollars are used to support the Airport.


Quotes from Phoenix Mayor and City Council

“This agreement will make sure that those most impacted by noise as a result of the 2014 changes will get quicker relief.  It also means that in considering future changes, the FAA will abide by the law and follow the public process that our residents deserve.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

“The court decision means that we will finally have the public outreach process we should have had before the flight path changes.  Residents need to stay engaged and attend the community meetings, which we expect to have by February.”
Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego, District 8
Represents the district where Sky Harbor is located.

“I’d like to thank city staff and my colleagues on the City Council on reaching this agreement. I’d also like to thank neighborhood leaders who worked with the city to remind the federal government that community input is simply not just a box to be checked but an important part in developing public policy.”
Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, District 5
Chairman of the Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation Subcommittee

“This plan demonstrates that all sides are committed to developing real solutions that mitigate airplane noise while ensuring that flight paths operate as efficiently as possible. We take seriously our desire to be a good neighbor who doesn't negatively impact our neighborhoods with airplane noise. If the court approves the petition, we look forward to working with the FAA and our residents to come to a successful resolution.”
Phoenix City Councilwoman Thelda Williams, District 1
Member of the Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation Subcommittee

“The FAA abused its powers and was dismissive of the rights of the residents of Phoenix. It deserved to lose this case.”
Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring, District 2

“This agreement is a victory for the communities which were adversely affected by the flight path changes and the people who fought hard to reverse them, and it shows some real opportunity on the part of the FAA to make reasonable adjustments going forward. Our neighborhoods are the lifeblood and voice of our community, and their ongoing involvement in any future changes moving forward is essential to responsible, collaborative, governance and oversight.”
Phoenix Vice Mayor Laura Pastor

“Last time around, the FAA was negligent in their approach to this process, and the results showed it. We have tons of folks in my district who are being unnecessarily bombarded with aircraft noise day and night, ruining their quality of life, and the courts agreed. I hope - and will work to ensure - that, this time around, the FAA engages our neighborhoods and communities productively, and in good faith.” 
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, District 6

“The previous flight path changes were made without community input and disrupted the quality of life for many residents throughout our neighborhoods. I am happy to see that the FAA will now be transparent and open while engaging our community in developing new flight paths for Sky Harbor. I look forward to the public outreach process in early 2018.”
Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, District 7
Member of the Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation Subcommittee