SCANA (Scottsdale Coalition for Airplane Noise Abatement) is a volunteer group formed in 2017 by residents in the Northeast Valley of Scottsdale, who noticed that the frequency and volume of airplane traffic over their tranquil homes had seemingly exploded overnight. SCANA volunteer membership represents a large area covering ~15,000 homes and approximately 50,000 residents.
Research revealed that indeed some things had changed. In 2014 the FAA had implemented its new satellite GPS system, "NextGen", for guiding arriving and departing aircraft to/from Sky Harbor International Airport. Where air traffic was formerly safely dispersed over predominately unpopulated areas many miles wide, arriving and departing planes were now compressed and moved into narrow and undeviating routes directly over densely populated Scottsdale communities and schools. The FAA has arbitrarily exposed our communities to catastrophic danger in the event of an aviation mishap.
The result? The airlines may have saved a minuscule amount of money in fuel savings and a few seconds shorter flight times. However, the NextGen system can provide navigational and safety benefits regardless of where the flight paths are located. The question SCANA is always asked is: why did the FAA move the flight paths from unpopulated terrain to over heavily populated residential communities? The FAA answer: efficiency and safety. However, logic by any means, would say that commercial airliners in full thrust take off mode are not safer to ground residents when they take off over highly populated communities and schools than when they take off over unpopulated terrain. The FAA cannot intellectually say the new routes are safer, even though it unfailing continues to make that claim. Clearly, either the FAA dropped the ball, or the FAA's safety measurement process is catastrophically flawed. The FAA refuses to meet with organizations such as SCANA and elected officials to discuss these issues. It clearly is a government agency that sees itself as unaccountable to anyone.
The City of Phoenix (who owns Sky Harbor Airport) and a number of Historic Districts in Phoenix tried to work with the FAA to alleviate the same issues over western Phoenix. As usual, the FAA refused to admit a problem or address the issues. Consequently, the City of Phoenix and the Historic Neighborhoods filed suit against the FAA in the Federal Appeals Court. Much to the shock of the FAA, it lost and was ordered by the Court to return flight paths to their near previous locations to restore the neighborhoods ground safety and quiet skies. While the FAA claims that moving flight paths within NextGen would compromise safety and the national aviation grid, nine (9) westbound Sky Harbor flight paths were moved expeditiously and safely with no disruptions to the aviation network. Unfortunately, the Court ruling was applied only to those westbound departures. It is hoped the Court ruling may be a basis for seeking relief for eastbound departures, but that is unknown at this time.
SCANA is continuing to work with the City of Scottsdale, elected officials, residents, national coalitions and others to seek negotiation with the FAA. We are not alone. Other cities across the Nation have suffered the same abuse from the FAA. In time, it is hoped all of the efforts being expended to hold the FAA accountable for its actions will bear fruit. Come back to this website often to catch up on those efforts and current events.