Phoenix, FAA Argue Sky Harbor Flight Path Lawsuit In Court

On Friday, two and one half years after the Federal Aviation Administration changed flight paths at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport without notifying the community, attorneys for the City of Phoenix and historic neighborhoods near downtown Phoenix had their day in court. The US Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in the City’s and neighborhoods’ lawsuit against the FAA.

The City of Phoenix is suing on behalf of all Phoenix neighborhoods. Several historic neighborhoods have also filed suit. These two suits have been joined together by the court.

“Phoenix is the only city in the country that had flight paths moved overnight, without any formal community notification,” said Jim Bennett, Director of Aviation Services for the City of Phoenix. “We would like to see the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conduct a full Environmental Assessment of the flight path changes, as the agency should have done prior to moving the routes in September 2014.”

While a low-level Phoenix employee was informally advised of the FAA intentions, no formal notification was given to Phoenix aviation officials at any time.

Since the FAA changed the flight paths over Phoenix, noise complaints at Sky Harbor have soared from 200 in 2013 to 80,000 since the new flight paths were implemented in September 2014.

The judges, who heard the case on Friday will confer and write an opinion on the case. This opinion could be issued at any time between now and the end of the year.