Phoenix residents give FAA an earful after changes to flight path

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Neighbors gave the Federal Aviation Administration and some city leaders an earful at a packed meeting in downtown Phoenix Thursday night.

The meeting was in answer to the surprise change in flight patterns out of Sky Harbor International Airport. People say they are now dealing with the constant roar of passenger jets.

The FAA changed routes to the west to be more efficient. The agency is now using a GPS system that works better with the navigation systems inside modern airplanes. But people who went to City Hall say efficiency shouldn't trump their quality of life.

Planes from Sky Harbor are closer and louder. You could even hear them inside the packed City Council chamber.

"We aren't feeling so friendly right now and we really take that very seriously," one official from Sky Harbor half-joked.

Airport officials sat in front of the overflow crowd with the FAA to hear from people who live in historic neighborhoods near downtown Phoenix.

"When I hear it at midnight and at 2 o'clock in the morning, I realize there's something else going on," said Councilwoman Laura Pastor about how she realized the flight path had changed.

The changes happened Sept. 18 when the FAA moved a flight path closer to downtown to make them more efficient.

"I don't think they really understand the cost," said Terry McCue, a captain with the Phoenix Fire Department. "You have to sleep. I come home and I've been up for 24 hours, I go to lay down and it is so frustrating, so extremely frustrating to have a jet blow over your house."

McCue was one of more than 60 who stood up to let the FAA know how this has affected their lives. Representatives listened and promised to take another look at the flight path but said their own study of noise impacts convinced them it wouldn't be a problem.

That was met with laughter, but the meeting was otherwise civil. Many expressed hope that they have the FAA's attention. They offered more than just complaints, the group has a former FAA employee in the neighborhood who is offering solutions.

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