“Greener Skies” flight plan gets FAA approval

This is part of a map on the Greener Skies website labeled “Future South Flow Arrival Procedures Over Current Flight Track Density, North of Airport.” See the full map here.
As reported yesterday in the Seattle Times, the FAA has approved the new “Greener Skies” flight method to land planes at Sea-Tac Airport new way to land planes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday.

In this method, arriving planes would approach the airport in a smooth descent, instead of the stairstep pattern they currently use. According to the FAA, this will save millions of dollars in fuel use per year, and it will also be safer, by reducing the potential for miscommunication between pilots and air traffic controllers.

Though the plan has these advantages, many residents of neighborhoods under the flight path are concerned about Greener Skies’ auditory impact. Information that has been published about the changes implies that the plan would condense the flight path, possibly sending more flights over Beacon Hill than current flight paths do. Neighbors including North Beacon Hill’s Quieter Skies Task Force requested a meeting with the FAA to discuss the plan and ask questions about the very technical information that has been published so far.

The FAA turned down the request for a meeting on Greener Skies, but offered to hold a general meeting about air traffic on October 23. The meeting was then cancelled, due to the unavailability of a key FAA official.

Erik Stanford of the Quieter Skies Task Force sent out this letter to supporters yesterday:

“The FAA and the Port of Seattle abruptly cancelled our meeting just 5 days before it was scheduled. The meeting was cancelled within hours of receiving the following agenda:

  1. FAA to compel the Port of Seattle to install more noise monitors
  2. FAA to fund the Port of Seattle to purchase, install and actively monitor the devices
  3. Determine process for expanding the use of “Fly Quiet” procedures for Sea-Tac departures (in lieu of a “Noise Abatement” flight pattern)
  4. Explain what “fly Quiet” procedures/protocols are available? Being utilized? (ex: powering back on departure, lowering landing gear closer to airport, etc.)
  5. Extend the current FAR Part 150 Noise Study for Sea-Tac Airport to include 98144, 98118, and 98108.

We have rescheduled the meeting for Tuesday, November 13th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Cleveland High School Theater located at 5511 15th Ave S. Translation services and refreshments will be provided.”

According to the Times, less than 15 percent of arriving Sea-Tac flights will use the new plan next spring, starting with Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines. The FAA will gradually expand Greener Skies over time.

12 thoughts on ““Greener Skies” flight plan gets FAA approval”

  1. Despite all the calls to action from neighbors to our local, state, and federal representatives, looks like this just goes to show how easily the federal government can steam-roll over local interests. Seems counter to the administration’s talking points…

    All that aside, I’m discouraged this topic continues to be confused. Many neighbors (seemingly with good intentions) have been blaming the proposed (now approved) Greener Skies RNP profile descent approach glide path for past few months of apparent noisy air traffic. It appears to me the recent noise may be due to other, less publicized, CFR part 150 flight path revisions meant to increase safety and reduce probability of mid-air collisions (that seems like a good idea to me). Since Greener Skies implementation is still far out & long term, I suppose we won’t know for a while what, if any, impact it will have. I look forward to its improvements, as I’m convinced it is (at best) an improvement over current conditions, or (at worst) roughly the same.

    On the bright side, at least we will be burning less jet fuel!

  2. • We are the most diverse zip code in the nation and we have the largest population of children and elderly (low income, minority, and disabled) in the city.

    • We are also impacted by THREE airports (Renton, Boeing Field and Sea-Tac). It is impossible for us to understand how the FAA and Port have not so far designated us a noise-affected community. These airports have been in existence a long time, but traffic frequency has increased, a third runway has been added, and flight paths have been altered and concentrated over our neighborhoods. The impacts have increased significantly and will only continue. We can no longer afford to be the silent, path of least resistance.

    • The noise has been steadily increasing since the opening of the third runway, and the FAA says air traffic will increase by another 30% in the next 10 years. We are asking for noise monitors and to have a seat at the table in planning the arrival and departure corridors and allowed times of operation. Only adequate noise monitors will provide proof of actual noise levels and frequency to start the process of finding fare solutions to managing air traffic impacts. Without real noise monitors on the ground, we are at the mercy of the FAA and the Port of Seattle who have already determined that we are not a “noise affected community”.

    • The FAA and Port have been re-designing our airspace and increasing air traffic over our community since 1995. They have been engaging with communities much further away, including Federal Way – but they have not included us. Alaska Airlines and other dominant airlines at Sea-Tac have the ear of the FAA and the sympathies of our congressional delegation, so there is little consideration left for our quality of life. Clearly airline profits have drowned out the voices of environmental justice.

    • We are having our first meeting on November 13th at Cleveland High School from 6:30-8:30pm to discuss air traffic noise and environmental issues. We invite everyone who is affected by air traffic noise. Translators will be provided for the Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Somali languages. Your presence is very important, but you are not required to speak at the meeting.

  3. there was a time when seattlelites took pride in aircraft flying over there homes. in fact I would say it was richly engrained into our community. if you all hate it so much perhaps you should move to a nice suburb like the issaquah highlands you can take your diversity and social justice with you also. ill take living wage jobs and a dynamic enviroment with scientificly literate folks anyday over what you [deleted] offer.

    (Monstor, I’ve warned you before not to bring name-calling and attacks into the comments here. This is your final warning — next time the entire post will be deleted, not just edited. — ed.)

  4. “monstor”

    You are entitled to your opinion and we are entitled to ours. Please be respectful of that. Name calling and attacks are not called for whenever your opinions differ from others. If you disagree so strongly that you can’t communicate in a respectful way, do focus your attention elsewhere.

  5. [Deleted, violation of commenting policy. Monstor, you need to figure out a way to express yourself without name-calling and fighting words. Your opinion is not the problem, it’s the uncivil way you’re expressing it. — ed.]

  6. Wendi – thank you for your monitoring of this blog. The comments by “monster” on this issue and almost every issue on the blog must be challenging for you to manage, and I think you do it well.

    I appreciate your balance between free speech and opinions, and when you draw the line when free speech deviates into vulgarity and hateful rants.

  7. This looks like a return to the pre 911 flight patterns. There was alot of activism in Seattle in the late 90’s over flight patterns and airplane noise distribution. The Port of Seattle staff stated it was their policy to reduce the overall negative impacts of airplane noise by concentrating flights over a narrow band of communities. So the brunt of the negative aspects of air travel is borne by the smallest number of people. C.A.N.E. and other groups unsuccessfully fought for wider distribution of flight patterns. After 911 all that changed when the Port wisely began to distribute flights over a wider area. Life immediately got better on Beacon Hill as the noise dropped to tolerable levels.
    Jet fuel dumping is also a concern that goes unnoticed, but is probably a greater concern to health than noise alone. While most flights ideally use all their fuel, excess jet fuel is dumped just before landing. Theoretically that fuel evaporates before reaching the ground, but you can smell and taste it in the air in Georgetown and South Beacon Hill. There is little scientific proof but much anecdotal evidence of cancer and other diseases clustered in communities near airports. Everyone living under the new flight paths will experience an increase in noise, jet fuel mist and exhaust. The health effects will never be properly measured. In any case the “stepped down” vs. “smooth descent” has nothing to do with concentrating the flight patterns over the fewest people. They could easily keep the existing distributed patterns and still use the “smooth descent” to save fuel.

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