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City leaders, Centennial Airport are making noise over new proposed FAA flight paths

30 new flight paths proposed
Posted at 10:15 PM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 00:15:00-05

LITTLETON, Colo. -- City leaders across the South Metro are making noise about 30 new flights paths being proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and are calling out the feds for a lack of transparency with the new routes.

"They're not going to bring it to us, we have to go chase it after them," said Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman. "They've never been transparent. They went to hold a meeting and they found out that the press found out about it so they canceled the meeting."

It's part of the FAA's "NextGen" program. An effort to modernize air traffic control and transition away from land radar in favor of more accurate satellite tracking for aircraft through a new Metroplex in Denver.

Brinkman and other city leaders are concerned about planes flying over homes where the owners never signed up to be in a flight path.

"The concern here is not only the noise and the disruption but the impact it will have on the community," she said.

Brinkman is also concerned about potential impacts to the Carson Nature Center, a wildlife conservation area that hundreds of different species of birds call home.

"Birds and planes don’t mix," she said.

The flight paths being proposed by the FAA impact almost every major airport in Colorado including Centennial, the second busiest non-commercial airport in the country.

"The number of communities where Metroplex has been implemented... folks have been very surprised that they didn't know that those new flight paths would go over their homes," said Robert Olislagers, the Executive Director of Centennial Airport.

As the FAA rolled out new flight paths, noise complaints exploded in cities like Baltimore , Phoenix , and San Diego .

Arizona's fight lead to a court battle, while in California lawmakers got involved.

Olislagers said one of his major concerns is with the maps the FAA released with the proposed flight paths. He said the maps are not easy for the average person or even some pilots to understand. The airport has asked the feds for more user-friendly maps that allow communities to see who could be impacted.

Centennial Airport has also hired its own attorney, the same attorney who filed suit in Arizona and won. Olislagers said they are ready to go to court if the FAA isn’t willing to work with them and hear their concerns.

"I think the FAA is interested in doing the right thing. The question is, will they do the right thing?" he said.

"Make a change and be the second city in the country that was able to protect their communities," said Brinkman.

The FAA recently announced its plans to release a draft environmental study to the public about the changes in April 2019, followed by several months of public comment, before issuing a final report in September.

An FAA spokesperson on Wednesday said they had no comment about the transparency issues being raised by city leaders and no new information about the flight paths.

Allen Kenitzer with the FAA previously told Denver7, "Metroplex initiatives are completed, under way or planned in a dozen metropolitan areas across the country. However, it is difficult to compare Denver to any other city, because the Denver area is not like any other city."

Kenitzer said Denver residents are encouraged to attend the public meetings in May and will be able to talk to experts on a one-to-one basis to learn how these proposed air traffic changes could affect their communities.

"The FAA will again review all comments before making a final determination," said Kenitzer.