Better FAA NextGen ATC outreach- 2 cases

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FAA to begin oversight of LaGuardia flight patterns for noise abatement

FAA Starting Outreach for Metroplex Project in Florida

Past Communications less than perfect

FAA initiates TNNIS review at LGA

Regional Administrator leads the South-Central Florida Metroplex design

The interaction between the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization and the citizens who live under the NextGen flight paths has had communications problems. Both the controllers have been challenged to explain the complexities of the ATC system and the public has no well translated anger and emotions to the specifics which need be rectified. Here is a brief litany of these complex, contentious interactions:


It is not a record conducive to the public’s acceptance of the more efficient, greener NextGen ATC operation. It is a pattern of the ATC team’s inability to break down the demanding criteria of SAFETY, efficiency and environment into terminology easily understood by their audience. With little comprehension of the FAA’s constraints, the people impacted by these changes were unable to explain their concerns in concrete terms or, even more constructively, to identify win/win options meeting the FAA’s requirements while minimizing the effect on their existence. Very few of the above listed posts ended with the desired outcomes.

The two headlines – a LGA oversight and the South/Central Florida Metroplex process—may signify an effort by the FAA to improve the dialogue.

  1. LaGuardia TNNIS Climb Oversight

Perhaps it was an academic study or it may have been a letter from a local Representative’s letter to Secretary Chao or it may have been proactive management by the ATC team, BUT it is clear that the FAA initiated a statement that the TNNIS Climb procedure was “been over-utilized and better management oversight would be practiced in the future.”

The fact that the FAA took the first step signals to try to improve its noise performance in managing traffic over TNNIS. In the future this Climb route will be limited to use “when airspace between LaGuardia and JFK is full and for other safety reasons.”

Indeed the local leader remarked:

Maria Becce, retired vice president of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association, said in an email. “This a MAJOR positive development in establishing community relations with the FAA regarding the efficient and agreed upon use of the TNNIS flight pattern.  It will bring immediate relief to excessive airplane noise to northeast Queens.  The final long-term step is to develop a replacement for TNNIS, but for now this is a major positive accomplishment.”

The promise seems to have raised expectations among the populace. It will be interesting to see whether the new distribution of flights will be viewed as adequate. Perhaps the most important dangling anticipation is the long term redesign of the departure routes of LGA.

  1. South-Central Florida Metroplex


NextGen’s space-based navigation brings greater precision to ATC operations and the associated software creates better tools to minimize delays (reduce fuel burn) . The FAA has conducted a number of Metroplex revisions and as the earlier list suggests, not all of the public input sessions satisfied the stakeholders’ requested changes.

The next major airspace to be realigned for NextGen includes:

  • Miami International Airport (MIA),
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL),
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Palm Beach International Airport,
  • and
  • various satellite airports

The good news here? Positive words by the Regional Administrator from the FAA Press Release:


“We will involve the public as we design the new procedures, and conduct the required environmental review,” said Michael O’Harra, Regional Administrator for the FAA Southern Region. “Early next year we will hold public meetings across Central and South Florida. We encourage the public to attend the workshops to talk with experts, learn how proposed changes could affect their communities and provide comments that we will consider as we finalize the new procedures.”

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires the FAA to identify and publicly disclose any potential environmental impacts of the proposed procedures. The Agency plans to begin the environmental review in spring 2019. We will offer the public the opportunity to comment on the proposal during the environmental review.

As we confirm locations, dates and times of the meetings, we will post them on our Community Involvement webpage. We also will publicize the meetings through news media and the FAA’s social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn–Federal Aviation Administration; Twitter–@FAANew”

Words like those highlighted are not new to FAA NextGen reviews; however, parsing the Press Release with a fine cognoscenti’s eye, here are some points to be noted:

It is the Regional Administrator, not an ATC representative, speakinghe has the authority to assure that the promises made are delivered.

       The Regional Administrator has experience in ATC capacity projectshe knows what is achievable in ATC route design; he will be able to intervene on behalf of a possible citizen’s proposal

       “We will involve the public as we design the new procedures”the tense of the verbs is important; “will involve…as we design…” that suggests that the FAA has not yet designed its S/C FL Metroplex solution. Dealing with a tabula rasa, if that is the intent of those verbs, is a HUGE concession to the citizens. When ATO has already gone through multiple iterations to define a preferred “draft” alternative, the staff’s investment of time and analyses creates a natural inclination to reject other suggestions.

Further support for this hypothesis:

 Before we begin the environmental review, we also will offer the public the opportunity to attend Community Involvement Workshops to learn about the South-Central Florida Metroplex and provide input on the proposed procedures. We encourage the public to attend the community meetings to talk with experts and learn how proposed air traffic changes could affect their communities. The public also may make comments about the proposed procedures at the meetings. The FAA will review all comments before making a final environmental determination on the procedures in 2020.

[not so positive]

Resources offered:

The FAA is clearly trying to improve its outreach and the above information sounds like better techniques are being employed. At a more technical level, the proof of that greater openness will be in dealing with, among other things, the noise levels occasioned by the precision/intensity of RNP. In any event even with a more positive FAA, it might well be a good idea to include consultants with the technical expertise in these matters.















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1 Comment on "Better FAA NextGen ATC outreach- 2 cases"

  1. More details on the CO/CE FL Metroplex–

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