The Federal Aviation Administration has delayed the first step of its two-phased change in westerly flights from March 29 until May 24.
David Jolkovski/AFN

Ahwatukee residents must wait a little longer for some noise relief with a change in flight paths for incoming and outgoing traffic at Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration has delayed the first step of its two-phased change in westerly flights from March 29 until May 24.

“Implementation of the proposed southwest departure corridor is pending further consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act so that the FAA can address certain issues that have been raised during this process,” the FAA said.

More than 400 people attended three workshops the agency held on flight paths. And more than 1,100 emails and letters were sent to the agency.

The change in flight paths was ordered by a federal court that ruled the FAA had violated provisions for community outreach when it changed routes in 2014.

The City of Phoenix sued the FAA, claiming the new paths severely damaged the quality of life in certain neighborhoods, particularly historic ones.

In a letter to the state Historic Preservation Office last week, the FAA said it had to delay part of the flight path changes it was to implement later this month because all Native American tribes in Maricopa County expressed concerns related to the impact of the new routes on “traditional cultural properties,” often referred to as TCPs.

“These TCPs are potentially sensitive to effects of overflights that introduce a visual, atmospheric, or auditory element,” the letter said, adding it was going to further study flight paths that head west before turning south.

“To that end, we will be continuing consultation with the tribes, with your office and with the other consulting parties on the southern departure routes,” the letter stated.

City Councilman Michael Nowakowski said the delay involved “ongoing environmental and historical consultation with the tribal Community.”

“Critical to reverting back to the 2014 routes is the FAA’s strict adherences to all applicable laws and community outreach and consultation with the Tribal agencies,” he said.

“I know it is disappointing to residents of the Laveen community that these route changes will trail the other route changes,” Nowakowski said

“However, it is required that the FAA communicate with the Tribal community. The FAA has made good progress with the tribal agencies in the consultation process and we will soon be back to the pre-2014 flight paths.”

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