6 Ways to Make the FAA ATC CLT Metroplex Meeting Work For You
On May 19, Dennis Roberts, FAA Southern Regional Administrator, will brief the community on new air traffic control procedures for flights at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) that will be effective on May 31, 2016. He has an extensive background in air traffic and is a pilot; so he should be able to respond to questions about the complicated Charlotte Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (CLT OAPM).
The OAPM has been subjected to the expedited NEPA review process as authorized by Congress (H.R.658 — 112th Congress (2011-2012), the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA). The Environmental Assessment concluded:
“The noise analysis demonstrates that noise exposure resulting from implementation of the Proposed Action would not result in a day-night average sound level (DNL) increase of 1.5 dBA or higher in noise sensitive areas exposed to DNL 65 dB or higher. Therefore, the Proposed Action would not result in a significant noise impact.”
[p. 5-4, § 5-1; emphasis added]
The FAA Press Release recites what is intended by this briefing:
“The new procedures are part of the FAA’s Metroplex initiative, a comprehensive plan to improve the flow of air traffic at airports in major metropolitan areas nationwide. They include three new Standard Instrument Departure procedures for flights heading to the northeast and southeast of the airport. The initial departure tracks are the same as aircraft fly today. However, the departure track splits into two different directions when the aircraft are at or above 3,000 to 6,000 feet giving air traffic controllers more options for directing flights. The third departure route combines two procedures into one. The FAA also is modifying a new Standard Terminal Arrival Route for flights approaching CLT from the northeast. The flight track remains the same below 16,000 feet.”
Based on prior FAA briefings on new air traffic control procedures being implemented to capture the benefits of NextGen, it is highly likely that the presentation will include information like:
Such exhibits show the value of this new ATC technology in delivering greater efficiency, enhancing safety and delivering environmental benefits– on regional and national bases.
Most people, who will likely attend the CLT OAPM meeting, want to know how these new flight paths will impact my house, my school or some other specific point under the new design.
Here is a handbook for maximizing the USEFUL information which you want from Mr. Roberts’ presentation:
1. Be patient:
- The FAA presenters (the Regional Administrator will probably bring a number of experts along with him) tend to speak in the technical jargon of their professions.
- Do not submit to the national presumption that all federal employees intend to obfuscate. They are dedicated public servants trying to do their best.
- These professionals work with others who primarily speak the same engineering/technical/ATC language and do not often speak to the general public unfamiliar, for example, with industry acronyms.
- Feel free to ask them to speak more slowly.
- It is NOT a display of ignorance to ask the speaker to spell out what that acronym means.
- You should ask the expert to explain exactly what that feature does; for example, it would be appropriate to ask
- “how does that RNAV technology impact my house and other people under the flight track; will it concentrate the noise for those who live there?”
2. Ask your US Congressperson, US Senator, NC State representative or Mayor to attend the meeting.
- It is more likely that the elected official will not be able to be there.
- If the Member or more likely his/her staffer comes to the meeting, introduce them to Mr. Dennis.
- Their announced presence should add to the responsiveness to your questions.
- The EA defined where these lines would be in general terms (p. 3-19 to 3-23), but there were no maps of where their precise patterns would be.
- The FAA statement indicates that two of the new departure will split at specific points; ask where those points are exactly, because the noise tends to concentrate around those way points.
- The statement also mentions a new departure route. That needs to be defined quite precisely.
- Departure routes tend to generate more noise as power is applied for take-off.
4.The EA tested the existing flight patterns (No Action) as to safety and efficiency in the design phase against a number of alternatives, as is required by NEPA. The next step was to measure the preferred option against the No Action history to assess the noise impact. Given that methodology there are a couple of questions:
- For each of the past of NextGen implementations (Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC) the FAA found that there were no significant noise impacts, yet in each case, there were substantial local problems with the noise impacts of the actual implementation.
- Does the FAA believe that the CLT OAMP will be different?
- One could suggest that the neighbors’ complaints are due to the concentrated noise caused by RNAV and particularly at the waypoints.
- Is that likely to happen with this implementation?
- Could the FAA assess these loci of noise concentration before and after implementation?
- What is the noise difference between the No Action and the Proposed Alternative cases exclusively under the selected flight patterns?
- In the process of assessing alternatives in the design phase, were there proposals which (i) met the safety and efficiency thresholds, but (ii) created less noise impact?
- If so, could those discarded routes be made public?
5. The redesign of airspace is a complicated, iterative process. The FAA design criteria did not include noise impacts as criteria for selecting the preferred option; safety and efficiency were the sole bases of judgment for that choice. In order to design a compromise which
- assures that those two standards are not diminished
- and identifies routes which may mitigate noise
- The FAA knows airspace; it is not likely to fully understand/recognize the impact on the ground.
6. DO NOT MAKE THIS INTO AN ADVERSARIAL MEETING. It is important to convince the FAA that you want to work together.
- Recognize the importance of CLT and other airports to the NC and SC economies.
- State that it would be unacceptable to you/your organization to reduce flights, diminish safety or limit efficiency.
- Compliment the FAA on the quality and amount of work that they devoted to this massive project.
- Emphasize that you/your organization want to identify win/win options.
- Be polite.
- As frustrated as you may be, it hurts your case to show irritation.
- Insults and hypercritical remarks cause the FAA representatives to shut down. You need them to be collaborative.
Take good notes, ask for copies of everything that the FAA shows, set a date for the FAA’s delivery of documents which you requested and ask to whom you should address comments post meeting. Thank the Congressional representative for attending and offer to draft a letter for the Member to Administrator Huerta.
Implementation starts within 12 days of the meeting; so there will be no promises by the FAA to change or even listen to further ideas. Thoughtful, well-crafted submissions may help, and perseverance is more likely to get to a win/win solution.