If you have noticed a significant increase in air traffic noise in Scottsdale from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport departures, you are not alone.
Folks in Phoenix and neighboring cities to the west have been complaining mightily about changes to flight paths implemented by the FAA in mid-September 2014.
Quoting from a recent Arizona Republic article
On Sept. 18, the FAA made the change as part of its NextGen plan, which implements satellite-based navigation.
The FAA implemented the new procedures to improve safety and efficiency, [FAA spokesman Ian] Gregor said.
The new departure routes are automatically separated from arrival routes, he said. Airlines program the procedures into their flight computers and planes fly the routes automatically, improving flight-route predictability, decreasing communications between controllers and pilots and providing more direct routes.
The new system also reduces fuel emissions and associated carbon dioxide emissions through shorter routes, Gregor said.
Planes heading to destinations north and east of Phoenix use the new flight path, Gregor said.
Both the old and new flight paths require planes to fly west before turning north. With the old flight path, planes began northbound turns about nine miles west of the airport, Gregor said. With the new flight path, planes turn north about three miles west of the airport.
[Presumably departures to the east are also turned north well in advance of their previous turn points]
The FAA conducted safety and environmental analyses prior to the change, but the pushback came as a surprise, …Gregor said.
“We did not anticipate the new procedures would create noise concerns in residential neighborhoods,” he said.
Phoenix’s Aviation Department initially learned about the changes in late 2013, [Sky Harbor spokeswoman Julie] Rodriguez said. However, Sky Harbor does not have decision-making power or veto authority over flight paths, she said.
According to another AZR article by Caitlin McGlade,
Phoenix aviation staff members knew about a proposed shift in Sky Harbor International Airport flight paths over historic neighborhoods a year before the controversial plan was implemented, but management says the department thought those plans were just drafts until two weeks prior to launch in September.
Complaints from at least one Scottsdale resident have turned up information that seems to indicate City of Scottsdale aviation employees knew about the changes, too, and also failed to notify residents or adequately assist them in their efforts to get more information.