By Larry Cripe

The skies of South King County may seem quieter for the moment, but most observers – including the Quiet Skies Coalition – unfortunately don’t expect that trend to continue.

Both the Port of Seattle and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) show no signs of slowing down their planning process for a massive increase of operations at Sea-Tac Airport under the Port’s Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP).

The increased Sea-Tac operations will come at a hefty cost to our health and our environment. It’s important we continue to push back regardless of the current economic situation.

Burien Turn
Many Quiet Skies members have noticed the smaller Q400 planes are still flying over Burien even though the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Burien’s favor last November to stop them.

As a result of the Court’s decision, the FAA was required to re-analyze the Burien Turn as part of a comprehensive cumulative analysis included in the SAMP environmental review, which is still pending.

The FAA had 45 days to appeal the court decision and, absent that process, we fully expected FAA to stop using the turn.

Wholly inadequate
But, on the 46th day, the FAA provided the court with yet another wholly inadequate document to justify continuing the turn. In our opinion, that analysis, like the others, fails to comply with the law and court decision. A letter to the FAA sent by the City of Burien, with input from the coalition, outlines the failures and expectations.

We are waiting for FAA’s review of the Sustainable Airport Master Plan due third quarter of this year. We will be alerting members by highlighting any shortcomings we find so please be ready for this in the next few months.

Staying involved
Members of the Quiet Skies Coalition continue to stay involved in the maser plan process.

The Burien Airport Committee continues to meet via Zoom on the third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. and welcomes public participation. This committee includes Quiet Skies Coalition members, Burien City Councilmembers and experts on various environmental issues, and it continues to inform officials and agencies about our concerns.

We also recently submitted public comments to the Port’s COVID-19 pandemic Economic Recovery Plan which we believe is the Port’s attempt to apply a “business as usual” approach to the post-COVID world. You can read our public comments along with a copy of a letter Alaska Airlines sent to the Port last year outlining why it thinks the Port’s SAMP process is deeply flawed.

For more information, visit https://www.quietskiescoalition.net.

Larry Cripe is founder and president of the Quiet Skies Coalition