FAA seeks comments on environmental concerns of propjet turns over Burien


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By Jack Mayne

Are propjet passenger planes turning over Burien usually in the winter a problem for the area’s environmental quality”

The Federal Aviation Administration wants you to tell them during the next two weeks.

When the Quiet Skies Coalition and a law firm said that the turning of airplanes over Burien was done earlier this year without conducting an analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the FAA repealed a standing order automatically turning the light airliners over the city.

The instructed its Sea-Tac tower controllers that they could individually order planes to turn, or it could approve individual pilot requests to turn over the city.

Comment until June 21
The FAA gave notice on Thursday (June 8) that it is opening a comment period on its desire to reinstitute turning smaller turboprop airliners at low altitudes over Burien.

The comment period ends on June 21, the FAA said.

The purpose of the environmental policy analysis is to “determine the environmental effects of a westerly heading for turboprop aircraft departing from Runway 34 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). The heading would only be used when the airport is landing and departing to the north (north flow).”

The FAA said it is “interested in suggested alternative paths for the westbound turboprop aircraft” when planes are taking off toward the north which usually occurs during winter months. The south flow in the summer would not have a similar path over Burien.

“Interested parties can submit comments online from June 8-21, 2017 to: [email protected]. People also can mail comments to:

Noise Concerns
AJV-W25
FAA
1601 Lind Ave SW
Renton WA 98057

The FAA’s Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor in Renton signed the notice.

‘Failed to comply’
A San Francisco law firm hired by Quiet Skies said in January that the FAA “failed to comply” with environmental rules when – without warning – it “began experimenting” with a new procedure that sends noisy prop-jet aircraft at low altitudes over Burien’s Seahurst neighborhood, a “non-confidential memorandum” from an international law firm told the Quiet Skies Coalition.

The Dentons law firm said it appears Quiet Skies and the City of Burien could get the flight paths moderated or changed by challenging the federal agency over failure to conduct environmental studies before such a major change in operations.

“On balance, it appears that a cause of action alleging a violation of National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) would be likely to succeed on the merits,” wrote Matthew Adams of the Dentons’ San Francisco office.

Once Burien, working with Quiet Skies, filed a lawsuit over the turn issue, the FAA suspended and then withdrew a standing order for the turn, leaving it up to individual pilots to request and controllers to approve or order.

Most observers said the change away from the turn was spurred by the legal action stopping the turns, which was unlikely to be overturned.

The justification for the turn from the FAA was that it was made legal for a weeklong period of time each summer when the Blue Angels came to the Seattle area. That was done to ensure passenger planes and fast-moving jet fighters would not be in close contact.

Quiet Skies said the forced turns over Burien at other times was never contemplated by the summer order.

“We thank Quiet Skies Coalition for bringing the issue of increased overflights to the City Council’s attention, for finding an attorney to file the petition on our behalf, and for providing input into the legal process,” Interim City Manager Tony Piasecki said. “City Attorney Lisa Marshall has followed appropriate legal procedure by providing information first to her client, the Burien City Council, followed by the Quiet Skies Coalition. The June 7 notice shows that the FAA is listening to the concerns of Burien residents.”

The City of Burien said that it will be submitting comments and encourages all Burien residents to submit comments to the FAA about the North Flow flight pattern.

More information
Summary of the preliminary FAA analysis:

Interested parties can submit comments in three ways:

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Comments

10 Responses to “FAA seeks comments on environmental concerns of propjet turns over Burien”
  1. Meri Haydon says:

    For it is a problem year round. It ro s me of my ability to use wireless cell service which is my only access to the internet. It seems to up my calls and I get alerts to take my phone off airplane mode. It isn’t on airplane mode but the planes communication devices somehow cause my cell to react as if it is. I have lived in the same apartment for 9 years and no matter who my carrier is the result is the dame. Thursdays thru Mondays my access is less than 30% due to the aircraft. If I am lucky Tue and Wed are about 60%. We have a growing popullation here and I don’t the complaints of this becomming a smaller issue any time soon. The whole area of greater Puget Sound sacrifices for the Blue Angels, that is community spirit and known to be temporary. Not a very good comparison and certainly not valid for a 24 hour a day year round invasion.

    Rate: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

    • Captain obvious says:

      Take your off airport mode that’s a odd one. Have you had the same number I know you said different providers . Is this a text message or your phone sending this notification. Have you had same phone also this seems like a different issue then what the survey or whatever is about.

      All cell phones are equipment with airplane mode I don’t believe the airport​ sends alerts for this unless you sign up for them. Or what could be going on is someone who had your number before you signed​ up for them. Then there also the possibility that in your phones notification system is set to send you a alert or may have a shortcut set for airplane mode and accidentally pressed it. It pretty easy to press a wrong button or tap on the wrong part of screen. Or have keys that love to pocket dial.

      I would talk to phone carrier about this.

      Rate: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  2. Meri Haydon says:

    I apologize for the typos. Have arthritis and forgot to proof read.

    Rate: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. Steve Edmiston says:

    It would seem that the FAA would deem this issue as one that mandates (1) advance publication of the assessement before running the clock on responding – not doing so is just plain mean, and (2) community engagement before running the clock on responding. It would seem that the FAA – who was just one month ago admonished by Port Commissioners and agreed to more community engagement – would be eager to come to a community meeting or two and translate from aviation-speak and data for an audience of community residents and explain exactly how it is that resuming overhead flights does not lead to a noise increase.

    If, that is, there was any real – authentic – desire for engagement.

    Will the Port hold the FAA accountable for this lack of engagement?

    Rate: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

    • Diane says:

      Great point, Steve. It seems that the FAA just barely pays “lip service” to the concept of community engagement. And since Alaska Airlines seems to be the primary culprit in these low early take offs, we should be expressing our rage at our home grown airline as well.

      Rate: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  4. DJT2020 says:

    They aren’t just flying Props over Burien, just this past week I saw 2 huge FedEx cargo jets fly over Seahurst Park & also Lake Burien Park. What’s their excuse for that? The FAA & Port think they’re above the law just because they’re govt agencies.

    Rate: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  5. C Canonica says:

    I have lived here for 40 years and never had the airplane noise that we had when the props started flying over our area. I thought is was bad in the house and very unsettling like when a low flying police helicopter comes over the neighborhood. But that is very seldom. The props are everyday and evening. You can’t talk on the phone or hear the tv. It is shattering if you are outside.. Please sign the comment form for the FAA. This will also lower our property values.

    Rate: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  6. B Brooks says:

    I don’t understand why the FAA is relying on public comments to determine environmental impact. That cannot possibly meet any sort of research requirements, right? Is the FAA expecting residents to submit white papers or hire ecologists to research and respond with the 2-week commenting period? Am I missing something?

    Rate: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  7. B Brooks says:

    Also, residents are expected to comment on whether “propjet passenger planes turning over Burien usually in the winter a problem for the area’s environmental quality” AND “propose alternative paths for the westbound turboprop aircraft” ?

    1. How much is the FAA paying us to research, write, and submit white papers before 6/21/2017?

    2. Is it safer for all residents to cover their arses by simply stating “I am not an expert in environmental studies, therefore, it is unreasonable to use a Public Comments Period to identify and respond to impacts on environmental quality. Thus, my comment is a logical and reasonable request to work with citizens, the city, independent environmental experts, and representatives from an international sister city that has successfully addressed these concerns in order to appropriately and accurately capture all issues and potential issues, outline reasonable and acceptable actions to avoid said issues, and establish a binding agreement for handling future changes/updates to airline and airport operations”?

    3. Has anyone organized a door-to-door campaign that would allow residents to submit a pre-form comment using volunteers’ tablets or, if not comfortable doing that, to sign hardcopies of the pre-form letters and seal them in self-addressed envelopes for the volunteers to collectively send in a single box as certified receipt received requested ? I would definitely volunteer for that. There should be a free space set up at the next farmers market, as well.

    Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

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