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FAA Flight Path Changes and Timeline

In September 2014, the FAA implemented new routes at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport as part of its Next Gen, Performance Based Navigation initiative.

Scottsdale Airport began receiving increased complaints from residents about increased overflights and noise related to these changes. Aviation staff responded by evaluating data and meeting with FAA representatives several times over the past few months to determine impacts.

Causes

These changes appear to have impacted Scottsdale by:

  • creating tighter flight path corridors for Phoenix Sky Harbor commercial air traffic resulting in increased overflights in some areas and reducing them in other areas,
  • tightening and slightly lowering departure turns out of Scottsdale Airport from the south to the northwest to de-conflict with other air traffic from Phoenix Deer Valley and Phoenix Sky Harbor,
  • employing different departure procedures for Scottsdale Airport air traffic affecting timing, location and throttle-up factors in northern Scottsdale, and
  • shifting Scottsdale Airport air traffic to the outer cusps of our existing flights paths in northern Scottsdale to de-conflict with other air traffic.

City Response

Scottsdale Mayor and City Council members as well as aviation staff are fully engaged: sharing residents’ concerns with FAA, keeping the best interests of our community at hand and working with the FAA. The Mayor and Council Office is actively working with Congressional constituents. Aviation staff has worked hard responding to noise complainants, participating in meetings, evaluating data, collaborating with the FAA and evaluating complaint trends. For more specifics, review timeline.

While the FAA doesn’t plan to revert to pre-Next Gen routes, they have agreed to evaluate possible procedural adjustments. Updates will be posted here.

In the meantime, residents can report noise complaints via the Noise Complaint Hotline at 480-312-3597 or online. Aviation staff promptly responds to these complaints when a callback is requested.

Timeline

Date Action  
Sept. 18, 2014 FAA RNAV Flight Changes implemented at Phoenix Sky Harbor  
Late Sept 2014 Aviation staff begins research into factors behind complaints, works with Phoenix Sky Harbor Aviation Department staff and FAA  
Oct. 8, 2014 Aviation staff met with FAA officials to discuss complaints being received in some Scottsdale areas.  
Dec. 9, 2014 Mayor Lane sent this letter (PDF) to FAA Regional Administrator voicing concerns about NextGen and request noise mitigation; copied Congressman Schweikert.  
Dec. 8 and 19, 2014 Aviation staff met with FAA officials discussing Sky Harbor Flight Paths, reviewing data and citing impacts to SDL flight paths.  
Dec. 23, 2014 Response letter (PDF) from FAA Regional Administrator to Mayor  
Jan. 21, 2015 Mayor writes follow-up letter (PDF) to Mr. Glen Martin asking FAA to review procedures and flight patterns over McDowell Mountains, included Cougressman Schweikert on correspondence.  
Feb. 20, 2015 Mayor’s Office receives letter (PDF) from FAA Regional Administrator regarding the departure procedures from Phoenix Sky Harbor which overfly northern section of Scottsdale.  
Feb. 2015 Aviation Staff met with FAA representatives to share concerns from residents about noise impacts  
March 23, 2015 City staff met with FAA officials to share concerns and provide information from affected areas. FAA agreed to review this information and flight radar data.  
March 27, 2015 FAA informs the City of Scottsdale about initiation of Phoenix Metroplex Project. Notice (PDF)   
March 30, 2015 Mayor and Council Office sends letter (PDF) to Senator Flake.  
April 6, 2015 Scottsdale Aviation Department collaborated with City of Phoenix on information for their community meeting.  
April 7, 2015 Mayor and staff meet with Congressman Schweikert and residents to listen to his plan for improvement. Letter (PDF) sent to Senator McCain.  
April 13, 2015 City of Phoenix held community meeting with Phoenix residents located west of Scottsdale Airport and shared results of noise measurement study, included Scottsdale Airport information; and presentation stated no major changes to Scottsdale flight paths.  
April 23, 2015 Scottsdale Airport Director signs letter (PDF) from a coalition of airports in response to Phoenix Metroplex.  
April 24, 2015 Scottsdale Airport Director sends separate letter (PDF) regarding EA for Phoenix Metroplex.  
April 30, 2015 Letter (PDF) from Senator McCain  
May 5, 2015 City Council members asked for Aviation staff presentation about noise abatement program and RNAV/Metroplex, view video   
May 13, 2015 Aviation staff met with FAA officials to continue discussion on impacts of Sky Harbor changes to Scottsdale and ask for evaluation of potential for procedural changes.  
July 22, 2015 Directors of Arizona airports within the FAA’s Phoenix Metroplex Project area sent this letter (PDF) to the FAA following up on requests that were made in an April 23 letter.  
July 28, 2015 City asks for cooperation of two flight schools to minimize overflights and noise in northern Scottsdale. – Letter (PDF)  
Aug 12, 2015 Mayor and Council office sent letter (PDF) to FAA Administrator  
 Sept. 9, 2015  McCain-Flake letterlinks to external site to FAA Administrator  
 Oct. 12, 2015  Arizona League of Cities sent letter to FAA Administrator  
 Nov. 9, 2015  Mayor sent letter (PDF) to Representative Schweikert  
 Nov. 19, 2015  Senate action on bill which includes McCain-Flake flight path amendment is on hold until at least Monday, Nov. 30. - Articlelinks to external site
 
 Nov. 24, 2015  Valley mayors sign letterlinks to external site asking Senate to support McCain-Flake amendment  
 Dec. 11, 2015  Metroplex project officially suspended due to RNAV issues at Phoenix Sky Harbor  
 Dec. 16, 2015 Leaders in Congress agreed on bill to fund government, this is text of omnibus funding billlinks to external site  
 Dec. 18, 2015  Omnibus Spending Bill Signed into Law, includes noise mitigation procedures provisions - more information.  
 Dec. 22, 2015  Letter from Senator McCain to FAA Administrator regarding Omnibus bill approval.  
 Jan. 13, 2016  Letter received by Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport regarding Metroplex  
 Jan. 21, 2016  Mayor Lane sent letter to Phoenix Mayor Stanton regarding including Scottsdale in FAA conversations.  
 Jan. 29, 2016  Sens. McCain and Flake sent letterlinks to external site to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation urging them to address Phoenix flight-path changes in the FAA Reauthorization Bill. - press releaselinks to external site  
 Jan. 29, 2016 Reps Gallego, Sinema, Schweikert and Kirkpatrick letterlinks to external site to FAA Administrator urging compliance with Congressional mandates to mitigate unacceptable levels of aircraft noise in Phoenix.  
 Feb. 3, 2016 Sen. McCain applauded the House Committee for including Phoenix flight path changes in reauthorization bill. - press releaselinks to external site  
 Feb. 3, 2016  US Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster unveiled his draft FAA Reauthorization Billlinks to external site, which includes language on FAA flight path changes, review of effects of aircraft noise on communities and proposed review of certain categorical exclusions like one FAA used for Sky Harbor.  
 Feb. 11, 2016  Senators McCain and Flake sent letter to affirm FAA's commitment to address flight path changes.  
 Feb. 26, 2016  Senators Flake and McCain cosponsor Airspace Management Advisory Act  
 Feb. 29, 2016  Scottsdale Aviation Dept. sent letters to Transpac and Westwind asking for cooperation to minimize noise impacts.  
 March 16, 2016  Arizona Senators Flake and McCain issued press release applauding Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's passage of FAA Reauthorization Bill.  
 April 6, 2016

Senators Flake and McCain spoke on Senate floor regarding FAA Reauthorization bill.

 
 April 12, 2016  The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a FAA Reauthorization Act amendment introduced by Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain requiring an airspace management advisory committee to review and report on the FAA’s process for developing proposals that impact airspace changes - Senate press releaselinks to external site.  
 April 19, 2016  Senators applaud Senate passagelinks to external site of FAA Reauthorization Act  
 April 22, 2016 Mayor Lane, Councilmembers Korte & Littlefield, and city staff met with Councilwoman Sinema on congressional updates, including FAA flight path changes. 
 May 2, 2016 Phoenix Rep. Gallego among the Quiet Skies Caucus members to introduce the Airplane Impacts Mitigation Act of 2016. The act will examine the health impacts of airplane overflights on local communitiesPress releaselinks to external site  
 June 15, 2016  Arizona Airport Directors send letter regarding Phoenix Metroplex project.  
 July 12, 2016 Congressional Representatives Schweikert and Gallego introduced "NextGen Flight Path Review and Notification Act of 2016links to external site."  
 Aug. 1, 2016 Congressional Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick and Ruben Gallego held meeting with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on July 22.  
 Aug. 11, 2016 Mayor Lane sent letter to Congressional Representative Schweikert.   
 Aug. 18, 2016 FAA letter to aviation management on FAA Phoenix Metroplex Project  
 Sept. 28, 2016 Letter from aviation director to FAA regarding flight path changes and including Scottsdale in future meetings.  
 Nov. 1, 2016 Arizona Airport Managers send letter of request to extend deadline to review FAA's Advisory Circular on improved community outreach  
 Nov. 10, 2016 USDOT Office of Inspector General released follow-up audit reportlinks to external site on FAA's NextGen program   
 Dec. 8. 2016  Language within the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act includes could require the FAA to review procedural changes at commercial airports. Read more  
 Jan. 10, 2017  Phoenix lawsuit against FAA scheduled for oral argumentslinks to external site on March 17, 2017  
 Jan. 26, 2017  Intergovernmental relations team met with Schweikert’s office to reiterate Scottsdale residents continuing to have issues related to the NextGen flight path changes.

 

 
 Feb. 3, 2017 Aviation Director submitted comments on draft FAA AC on Community Involvement to ensure there is collaboration between airports and FAA, and that input is sought from community members.   
 Feb. 6, 2017  Mayor Lane sent letter to Council member Waring regarding proposed Phoenix multi-use project in 55DNL.   
 Feb. 6, 2017 Aviation Director emailed this letter to Phoenix Planning Department regarding proposed project in 55DNL.   
 Mar. 17, 2017 Federal appeals court heard oral arguments in case filed by Phoenix against flight path changes. Read City of Phoenix press releaselinks to external site  
 April 3, 2017  Senators Flake and McCain sent letter to FAA seeking response to 2017 National Defense Authorization Act provision.  
 Aug. 29, 2017 The US Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. has ruled in favor of the City of Phoenix in its lawsuit against the FAA over flight path changes, for more information visit City of Phoenix web page.  
 Oct. 10, 2017 There has been an update on the lawsuit between the City of Phoenix and the FAA. The FAA has filed a motion to extend the deadline to seek a rehearing. Visit the Phoenix Sky Harbor web pagelinks to external site for more information.

 

 

 

Contact Information

Airport Logo
Scottsdale Airport
 - Administrative Offices
15000 N. Airport Drive, 2nd Floor             
Scottsdale, AZ 85260 
P: 480-312-2321             
F: 480-312-8480

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Aviation staff (PDF)

File a Noise Complaint

If you would like to file a complaint about aircraft noise, you can call our dedicated 24-hour number 480-312-FLYS (3597) or use the

Online Complaint Form

When filing a complaint, please provide specific information for us to effectively research and record your concerns. For recording purposes, only one incident per call will be noted.


Please note: Information provided on the noise hotline or noise website may be subject to a public records request.