Ahwatukee residents whose ears have been hammered by the commercial airlines after the Federal Aviation Administration abruptly changed Sky Harbor Airport flight paths can now have a chance to make their voices heard.
As ordered by a federal court in Washington, D.C., the FAA next month will hold two public hearings in Phoenix and one in Scottsdale in relation to the flight path changes that were implemented in September 2014.
Both U.S. senators from Arizona and a host of Phoenix neighborhood groups criticized the changes, complaining that the planes in many cases made daily life unbearable as a result of the number of flights over portions of the city.
Phoenix then filed a lawsuit to force the FAA to adjust those flight paths, which the agency had said made landings and takeoffs more efficient at Sky Harbor.
Some Ahwatukee neighborhoods also were impacted by the new changes, particularly in the far western end of the community.
One homeowner reported spending thousands of dollars to suppress the noise inside her home.
The court last fall found that there was not adequate public outreach before the changes of 2014 and ordered the FAA to “vacate” the routes and procedures.
The FAA, City of Phoenix and the neighborhood associations have jointly developed a plan to move forward. According to the FAA, an outright canceling of the September 2014 paths “would increase airport delays and compromise safety,” city officials said.
The three sides negotiated a plan to mitigate noise.
The FAA as part of the agreement will engage in community outreach while creating temporary departure procedures to the west that will approximate the pre-2014 routes starting in April 2018.
It would then develop new satellite-based procedures for the western departures and consider feedback on procedures throughout the Phoenix area.
The workshops will be conducted in an open-house format, meaning the FAA will not be making a general address or even using microphones.
But attendees will have a chance to learn about the changes it proposed to the court and discuss noise issues.
The city Aviation Department also will be on hand to answer questions.
The meetings will all be from 5-8 p.m. as follows:
Feb. 6, Maryvale High School Cafeteria, 3415 N. 59th Ave. Phoenix;
Feb. 7, Cesar Chavez High School Cafeteria, 3921 W. Baseline Road, Laveen;
Feb. 8, Horizon High School Cafeteria, 5601 E. Greenway Road, Scottsdale.