FAA says most North Orange County residents won’t notice changes to

JWA flightpaths

Attendees of the Nov. 2 meeting at El Modena High School look at a computer screen showing new satellite-guided flight paths that are being implemented by the FAA.

By Daniel Langhorne

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claims it is unlikely residents living under the flight path into John Wayne Airport will experience much change in aircraft noise as the agency implements a new satellite-based guidance system in the coming months.

More than 120 people attended a Nov. 2 meeting at El Modena High School, where guests viewed maps of the new flight paths and entered their addresses into a computer to see how many aircraft would fly over their house.
Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Culver City have filed separate federal lawsuits against the FAA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) in greater Los Angeles. The three cities claim federal officials failed to adequately analyze the environmental impacts of implementing new departure, arrival and approach procedures at airports located within the Southern California Metroplex. Orange County joined the Newport Beach suit Nov. 10.

Pie in the sky

North Tustin resident Jane Sears was skeptical of the federal officials’ claims that the project would have little or no impact on her neighborhood. “I’m not sure things will change that much for us, unless they use [NextGen] as an excuse to change the [airport’s] hours,” Sears said.

The FAA is implementing NextGen, a plan to modernize the National Airspace System through 2025. The goal is to make airspace more efficient and improve access to airports.  NextGen employs a suite of advanced technologies and procedures that enable aircraft to move more directly from one point to another. This helps passengers reach their destinations on time, while reducing fuel burn and lessening the impact on the environment.  
Federal officials claim the project will have no significant impact on Southern California residents, and that they followed the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when measuring potential noise, pollution and other effects of air traffic.

Location, location

FAA Spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. “We stand by the environmental analysis,” Gregor said.

The FAA modeled noise at 330,000 locations throughout the project area. The results showed that some areas will experience slight noise increases, some areas will experience slight noise decreases, and some areas will experience no changes, Gregor said.

“I think we’re seeing a continuing improvement,” said Bruno Junor, Third District representative for the Orange County Airport Commission. “The problem is when you build something new.”

Photo by Daniel Langhorne