Airport Business

DEC 2018-JAN 2019

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40 airportbusiness December 2018/January 2019 LEGAL MATTERS By Mark A. Dombroff Thanks to FAA reauthorization, U.S. Airports Have Long to-do List for 2019 The pace of change in the U.S. airport business is about to accelerate further now that Congress has passed the long-delayed FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The 1,200-page act contains a number of provisions that stand to affect U.S. airports. Below are three areas to track in the year ahead. No. 1: Noise concerns In passing the five-year reauthorization, Congress ordered the FAA to take a number of actions related to community noise concerns, a perennial issue for airports. For example, when proposing new area navigation departure procedures or changing existing procedures below 6,000 feet, FAA must consider the feasibility of using dispersal headings to mitigate noise over residential and other sensitive areas. The idea here is to spread flight paths out across the airspace instead of using busy “highways” in which large numbers of longitudinally separated planes continually fly over the same communities. On the other hand, anytime aircraft start taking new routes, complaints from the affected communities are a given. Broadly speaking, FAA’s ongoing “NextGen” modernization of the national airspace could translate into a major shakeup in existing noise patterns and intensities. The reauthorization orders FAA to review its community-involvement practices for NextGen projects located in major metro areas. In addition, lawmakers ordered the agency to review and evaluate what is already known about how jet approach and takeoff speeds affect noise. They also directed FAA to commission academic research on the health effects of noise. Wherever possible, airport operators need to have a seat at the table as the aforementioned discussions and studies progress. In particular, operators may need to reiterate certain limiting realities in play. Runways exist in their present

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