Quiet Skies plans to increase pressure on Alaska Airlines to slow aircraft noise


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Burien’s Quiet Skies Coalition on Friday (July 13) announced that – as the city approaches the two-year anniversary of the FAA’s decision to turn airplanes over Burien – it will be putting more pressure on Alaska Airlines, the Port of Seattle, King County and State officials, as well as the FAA, in an attempt to slow down increased air traffic.

The group will be holding at least three events:

  • Larry Cripe, President of Quiet Skies, will be holding a press conference on Monday, July 16 at Burien City Hall, “to call attention to the continuing safety and health issues associated with Sea-Tac operations.”
  • He will also present at Monday night’s Burien City Council meeting “to urge higher visibility of these safety, noise, and emissions issues.”
  • Then, on Thursday, July 26, QSC will be holding a protest outside the Alaska Airlines headquarters building in SeaTac (time TBA – watch the blog for details soon).

Organizers also sent a letter (see PDF here) on June 28 to Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden, telling him they “strongly believe that you have the ability to fix this problem, mitigate risk, and reduce your liability” with the following recommended actions:

  1. First, the current “automated” procedure requires the Q400 to turn to a heading of 250° within 1NM of the departure end of runway 34, usually 34R. Normally, due to the possibility of engine failure, departure turns begin at or above 1000 feet. However, we have observed Q400 turns beginning as low as 500 feet.
  2. Second, as we understand it, the turn can begin before radio and radar contact is made with departure control. Although we are checking, we suspect there is no traffic separation provided at that moment.
  3. Third, even with separation, the turn crosses two active runways, the missed approach course for 34L, as well as the controller’s breakout area over Burien. Even with controller separation, errors and distractions can occur immediately after takeoff. An engine failure in a 30° banked turn at night in the weather would certainly test the skills of the best pilot. Have your crews trained for an engine failure in such a turn? A shallow turn to the east, as is often done, would avoid these risks, as would traditional departure routings.

Here’s the full letter sent out Friday:

Dear QSC supporters,

Prepare for action!  Time is of the essence!  We are fast approaching the two-year anniversary of an event that stunned every Burien resident on July 26, 2016 when the FAA decided to direct Alaska Airlines to create new western departure flight paths directly over our Burien neighborhoods.

At the request of Quiet Skies Coalition, the City of Burien appropriately filed suit against the FAA in February 2017 challenging the FAA’s decision-making in the Ninth Circuit Court.  In response, the FAA issued a Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) report in April 2018 denying the City’s request to stop these flights, and further declared that there were NO safety or environmental consequences associated with this new route over Burien.

In the meantime, some Quiet Skies members—who are experts in important aviation disciplines—have analyzed the FAA’s CATEX report and have found many procedural irregularities and inconsistent application of aviation regulations. (See attached example, as well as the guidance for missed approaches on runways 34L and 34R) In addition, Quiet Skies Coalition contacted Alaska Air Group via letter, encouraging them to be “part of the solution” and not the problem as they promised at the onset of the City’s litigation against the FAA. (See attached letter to Alaska Air Group)

While this court case drags on, the Port of Seattle has created a committee called StART, to further study and identify measures to reduce the impacts of thousands of increased flight operations. We at QSC are conscious of the fact that the Port and the FAA may try to mis-use the StART committee as a substitute for meaningful reform.

WHAT’S NEXT?  Quiet Skies Coalition and concerned residents from Burien, Des Moines, Sea-Tac, and Federal Way are RISING UP to maintain pressure on Alaska Airlines, the Port of Seattle, King County and State officials, so that the emphasis is rightfully focused on finding ANOTHER airport location, as promised 20 years ago! 

JOIN QSC on these dates/times:   it is imperative that we have a large showing of support!

  • Monday, July 161:30 p.m. QSC press conference at Burien City Hall to call attention to the continuing safety and health issues associated with Sea-Tac operations.
  • Monday, July 16 – 7 p.m. QSC testimony before the Burien City Council in Burien City Council Chambers to urge higher visibility of these safety, noise, and emissions issues.
  • Thursday, July 26QSC Protest at Alaska Airlines  (time TBD—check QSC website).

REMEMBER:  DEFERRING ACTION JEOPARDIZES RESIDENTS’ HEALTH AND GUARANTEES CONTINUED NOISE, EMISSIONS, UNWANTED FLIGHTS, AND OVERLY CONGESTED AIRSPACE THAT COMPROMISES FLIGHT SAFETY!

Sincerely,
Larry Cripe, President
Quiet Skies Coalition

Read our extensive previous coverage of this issue here.




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