LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Federal Aviation Administration should listen to neighbors’ noise concerns after a new flight route assigned planes to a path right over their homes, an aviation consultant and former air traffic controller told the 8 News Now Investigators on Tuesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Las Vegas Metroplex Project went into effect in February 2021. The project was meant to streamline and secure the airspace in and out of Las Vegas. It also implemented a new departure procedure, where some planes take off from Runway 19 and then make a hard-right turn.
The reason for the change, according to a preliminary document for the project, was to eliminate “the need to taxi across two runways to depart” and simplify workflow. A slide about the proposed change to the airport’s southern traffic flow cites a “challenge” of “high air traffic controller workloads” and a “solution” of “some general aviation aircraft” using Runway 19.
“Shouldn’t the FAA be listening to the people down below?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Kevin Karpe of Diverse Vector Aviation Consulting.
“Yes, and there should be answers,” Karpe said. “There should be actions when deemed necessary.”
Neighbors and county commissioners said they were told a new flight path for general aviation aircraft would not cause any impact. But the FAA classifies chartered and private flights in that
“general aviation.” Las Vegas is seeing more chartered aircraft with the arrival of the Las Vegas Raiders and other highly attended events.
General aircraft park on the west side of the airport next to Las Vegas Boulevard and are closer to that runway, necessitating the need for the planes to taxi across “two busy runways,” documents said.
“In this case, the environmental review would have to take place for any implementation of a procedure,” Karpe said. “That’s where the basic information of what you’re asking would come from.”
The FAA declined an on-camera interview, but a spokesperson said planes have always departed from Runway 19. The 8 News Now Investigators asked for more information about the hard-right turn procedure.
The 8 News Now Investigators reviewed old flight plans for departures off Runway 19 and could find no evidence of a hard-right turn in previous pilot guidance.
In addition, the FAA’s sound study kept the types of planes in their sound model the same for making changes versus making no changes, even though the “solution” to the ground-traffic program included diverting more general aviation aircraft – possibly more small jets and chartered larger planes – on that runway.
The FAA’s sound study ultimately determined “the proposed air traffic procedures do not change runway use.” There is no indication in any document the 8 News Now Investigators review that the immediate right-hand turn was considered as part of an environmental or sound study.
“If you’re changing the mix of make and models of planes and you’re not reflecting that in your sound study, wouldn’t your sound study need to be reviewed?” Charns asked.
“It might be, very possibly,” Karpe said.
Karpe noted the Las Vegas valley’s two other airports in Henderson and North Las Vegas cater to small, general aviation aircraft.
Other communities with similar projects have sued the FAA. The Las Vegas neighbors have not reached that point but feel the FAA is not listening to them. Karpe said the FAA’s public engagement office should get involved if it has not already.
“The FAA’s been challenged in a lot of different avenues across the country with different Metroplexes,” he said. “I’ve seen some changed. I’ve seen some amended.”
The FAA made changes in the initial months after Metroplex’s implementation, including working with airlines and pilots to make a Runway 19 departure and right-hand turn a last resort. for commercial aviation.
As of Tuesday evening, an FAA representative had yet to supply more information about the right-hand turn procedure and previous flight tracks.