Sky Harbor NextGen Flight Patterns

DC Ranch Engagement Plan for NextGen Flight Patterns – View Here
[Latest Update click here]

What is Sky Harbor NextGen?

In 2014, the FAA adopted NextGen Flight Patterns at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. While the greatest impact was in Phoenix, this change resulted in new Sky Harbor air traffic over DC Ranch. The city of Phoenix filed a lawsuit in August 2017 that led to a U.S. District Court of Appeals decision in favor of Phoenix.

In Nov. 2017, the FAA and Phoenix negotiated an agreement, dependent on the federal court’s approval, which spells out that the FAA will return to the previous flight paths on western departures from Sky Harbor “to the extent practicable,” and new flight paths will be developed during a public process next year. The FAA also committed to hold community meetings in April of 2018 to seek input on flight patterns to the east.

How can residents engage?

DC Ranch residents are encouraged to continue to engage the City of Scottsdale with thoughts and concerns, and we will update residents regarding opportunities to weigh in with FAA as the public process unfolds in the coming months.

City of Phoenix’s FAA flight paths issue web site: https://www.skyharbor.com/flightpaths

City of Scottsdale’s FAA flight paths issue web site: http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/airport/airport-noise/faa-flight-path-updates

How will DC Ranch be involved?

The DC Ranch Community Council will closely monitor the FAA’s public process as it unfolds and continue to update residents as opportunities to weigh in arise.

Latest Updates

July 1, 2022

The City of Scottsdale lost its lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). After mitigation efforts failed to get the Sky Harbor east bound flight paths moved, Scottsdale brought legal action against the FAA. On June 24, a US Court of Appeals judge dismissed Scottsdale's lawsuit against the FAA. The flight path issue dates back to 2014, when the FAA implemented a new satellite GPS system known as “NextGen” at Sky Harbor. The east bound air traffic patterns that had formerly been dispersed over predominately unpopulated areas were changed to narrow corridors that are directly over Scottsdale communities including DC Ranch.

The City of Scottsdale’s next move is to seek an invitation to participate in the FAA’s recently organized Working Group, which is reviewing aviation issues at Sky Harbor. In these meetings, Scottsdale may be able to influence changes to the flight patterns that did not happen through their unsuccessful legal action.

April 2022

The City of Scottsdale and the FAA completed their final arguments in court on March 21. The case now is in the hands of a three-judge panel. It is unknown when they will make a ruling.

March 2022

The City of Scottsdale and the FAA filed their final briefs with the court on Feb. 24, 2022. The Court has scheduled oral arguments for the case on March 21, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. Once oral arguments are completed, the case is expected to go to the three judges hearing the case for a decision/opinion.

City's Final Opening Brief
City's Addendum to its Final Opening Brief
City's Final Reply Brief
FAA's Final Brief for Respondents

Feb. 2022

On January 27, 2022 the City of Scottsdale filed a 42-page Reply Brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in its lawsuit against the FAA and the Sky Harbor flight paths it moved to fly over Scottsdale in 2014. Originally scheduled for Jan. 13, the filing date was extended.

The City of Scottsdale presented two main arguments in the brief. First, that the FAA did not follow court instructions received in the City of Phoenix’s 2018 court case it won against the FAA, which the City said required the FAA to restore the eastbound flight patterns as well as the westbound flight patterns. And secondly, that the public meetings the FAA held in 2020 did not address the court’s requirements.

Dec. 27, 2021

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals denied the City of Scottsdale's request to strike the FAA's Response Brief and referred Scottsdale's request to deny an attached declaration made by FAA employee Christopher Kesler to a merits panel for resolution. The panel will decide whether the Kesler declaration should stay as a part of the FAA's Response Brief or whether it will be stricken per Scottsdale's request. A merits panel generally consists of three judges, who may or may not require oral arguments.

No date was set for the merits panel to rule. However, it should happen prior to the new Court dates that were set for the briefing schedules:
Petitioners Reply Brief: January 13, 2022
Deferred Appendix: January 20, 2022
Final Briefs: February 3, 2022

CLICK HERE to read the Court’s December 23, 2021 ruling
CLICK HERE to read the FAA's October 22, 2021 Response Brief, including the Kesler declaration
CLICK HERE to read Scottsdale's November 8, 2021 motion to strike the FAA Response Brief

Dec. 2021

Very little forward progress has been made on the legal battle between the City of Scottsdale and the FAA over the eastbound flight paths at Sky Harbor. After the FAA submitted its 106-page brief, Scottsdale filed a motion on Nov. 8, 2021 asking the Court to strike the FAA Response Brief and order it to submit a new, corrected one. The motion is based on the limitation of how long briefs may be in the number of words included. Not surprisingly, on Nov. 18, the FAA filed a motion objecting to Scottsdale's motion to strike. Scottsdale responded on Nov. 30, filing a reply with the Court reinforcing its original motion to have the FAA brief stricken. No information has been given as to when the Court will rule on the series of motions and/or set new court dates.

Nov. 1, 2021

The FAA filed a 106 page brief on Oct. 22. According to the City of Scottsdale, it contained several mischaracterizations. The City has until Nov. 12 to file a reply and set the record straight.

The FAA also announced in its brief that it will begin a workgroup, to take another look at the flight paths over the east valley, in January of 2022. City staff hope to participate in the workgroup.

Oct. 12, 2021

After several extensions were given to the FAA, the U.S. Court of Appeals granted the FAA until Oct. 22, 2021 to file its response to the City of Scottsdale brief, including the statement that "no further extensions will be granted to respondent (FAA) absent extraordinary circumstances."

The new briefing schedule is as follows:

Respondents Brief: Oct. 22, 2021
Petitioner's Reply Brief: Nov. 12, 2021
Deferred Appendix: Nov. 19, 2021
Final Briefs: Dec. 3, 2021

April 27, 2021

The City of Scottsdale filed it’s Opening Brief on April 26, ending the FAA’s repetitive requests for extensions and an unproductive mediation process. The schedule for future court processes and oral arguments have not been determined. The DC Ranch Community Council is supportive of the City’s legal action; however, it will be a lengthy process with no guarantee of a desired outcome.  The expectation is that Sky Harbor flight paths will move away from DC Ranch and other areas that have been adversely impacted by air traffic flight changes implemented by NextGen.

Jan. 27, 2021

Due to the FAA’s current and continued COVID protocols and administrative orders, the City of Scottsdale’s legal briefing schedule has been extended to begin April 12 while efforts to mediate continue.

Oct. 19, 2020

The deadline for opening briefs in the City of Scottsdale legal action against the FAA has been extend again to early January. Mediation continues and the City remains cautiously optimistic it may be productive.

July 31, 2020

The City of Scottsdale is in mediation with the FAA and as a result, the Court’s schedule has been extended with the city’s opening brief now due mid-October. A spokesperson in the city attorney’s office said that while they are hopeful about mediation, the city is prepared to litigate if needed.

June 3, 2020

The FAA has requested another 60-day extension to the court-imposed deadline for its response to the legal action taken by the City of Scottsdale. If the extension request is approved by the U.S. Court of Appeals, the new deadline for the FAA to respond will be July 27, 2020.

May 1, 2020

The City of Scottsdale continues to pursue a legal action against the FAA during COVID-19 challenges. The FAA was required to respond to the legal action by April 27 but requested an extension to May 27th. It is expected that the court will grant the extension.

March 10, 2020

The City of Scottsdale has filed a petition asking the US Court of Appeals to review the FAA’s NextGen changes to Sky Harbor’s flight routes. The petition was filed after Scottsdale officials and residents spent years asking the FAA to rescind the “NextGen” flight pattern changes. The “NextGen” flight paths were implemented without community input and have resulted in safety and noise concerns for residents throughout Scottsdale. The City of Phoenix won a similar legal battle in August 2017 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FAA was “arbitrary and capricious” in its flight procedure revisions. Following the court ruling, Phoenix and the FAA announced a joint plan aimed at resolving the dispute for westbound flights. The City of Scottsdale is hoping for a similar outcome for the eastbound flights with its legal action. Click here for more information.

Feb. 18, 2020

The City of Scottsdale is going to increase the pressure on the FAA regarding Sky Harbor flight paths. The Scottsdale City Council authorized the city attorney and the city manager to file a petition for review of the FAA actions implementing new flight routes or seek other legal remedies that may be available to the City related to the east departure and arrival routes from Sky Harbor International Airport. The fight pattern changes, called NextGen, were made without community input and have resulted in safety and noise concerns for residents throughout Scottsdale. Click here for more information.

January 2020

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it has completed its review of comments received during Step Two of the Agreement, which dealt with eastbound Sky Harbor NextGen flight patterns. These comments, which requested the FAA make changes to eastbound flights, were submitted by DC Ranch and other Scottsdale residents, SCANA, the Community Council, City of Scottsdale and many Arizona elected officials in May 2019. In short, the FAA stated on January 10 that they will not be taking any further action and that the FAA has the sole discretion whether to make any changes to flight procedures.

The Community Council will relay its disappointment to the city of Scottsdale and our federal elected officials to see if they will initiate further action with the FAA.

Read the full FAA statement at https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_involvement/phx/

November 2019

The FAA has not yet publicly addressed any of the feedback it received at their April 2019 community meetings, which DC Ranch residents and staff attended. Nor have they responded to letters sent by DC Ranch. However, in an FAA response to an audit conducted by the Transportation Department Inspector General in August, the FAA admitted in writing that the process they used to establish NextGen did not include community input, and that flight changes have caused growing public concern about aircraft noise in areas previously not exposed.

DC Ranch has again written the FAA, asking for an update (read letter).

July 10, 2019

To date, the FAA has not responded to any public comments it received regarding the NextGen eastbound air traffic patterns nor given any indication of its next step. Prior to the FAA’s May 23 deadline for comments, the Community Council submitted a letter to the FAA outlining DC Ranch’s preferred changes to mitigate the impact of air traffic over DC Ranch resulting from the NextGen changes.

The Community Council continues to monitor this matter and is coordinating efforts with the City of Scottsdale, federal officials and SCANA. Council will continue to keep residents informed if and when new information becomes available.

April 26, 2019

At the open houses on April 22, 23 and 24, the FAA unveiled “Concepts 1 and 2” which are considerations for additional flight patterns for arrivals and departures at Sky Harbor International Airport to address concerns about noise and safety stemming from the 2014 NextGen flight paths.

The “Concepts” would shift approximately 30 percent of the Sky Harbor air traffic away from DC Ranch. Requesting that a higher percentage be shifted would increase the benefit to DC Ranch residents.

If you were unable to attend the meeting, you are encouraged to comment online at:

https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/nextgen_near_you/community_involvement/phx/community_comments

April 11, 2019

DC Ranch residents can help reduce Sky Harbor air traffic over DC Ranch by attending the upcoming FAA Open Houses. The greater number of people the FAA hears from, the more likely they are to make flight pattern changes. Please plan to attend one of the meetings listed below.

Click here to view talking points provided by the DC Ranch Community Council.

The meetings are as follows:

April 22, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Desert Vista High School
16640 S. 32nd St.
Phoenix, AZ 85048

April 23, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Pinnacle High School
3635 E. Mayo Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85050

April 24, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Cesar Chavez High School
3921 W. Baseline Road
Laveen Village, AZ 85339

March 27, 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced it will hold public workshops in April to gather community input on the NextGen flight pattern changes made at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

The 2014 Sky Harbor flight pattern changes moved air traffic to fly over heavily populated areas, including DC Ranch, creating potential safety hazards and noise issues.

DC Ranch Residents are encouraged to attend. The greater number of people the FAA hears from could impact their decision on adjusting flight patterns. Community Council staff will voice concerns on behalf of the DC Ranch community-at-large.

If the Sky Harbor NextGen flight pattern changes have negatively impacted the enjoyment of your home, this is your opportunity to speak up!

Click here for more information from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Click here for more information from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

This is the schedule for the meetings in the Phoenix area:

April 22, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Desert Vista High School
16640 S. 32nd St.
Phoenix, AZ 85048

April 23, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Pinnacle High School
3635 E. Mayo Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85050

April 24, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Cesar Chavez High School
3921 W. Baseline Road
Laveen Village, AZ 85339

The workshops will be held in an open-house format. People can arrive any time between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to view project display boards and talk to FAA subject matter experts.

Jan. 17, 2018

[POSTPONED DUE TO GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN]

*The FAA no longer feels it can keep the February workshop dates due to the fed shutdown and will be rescheduling them for April.*

Dec. 31, 2018

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced it will hold three open houses in February to gather community input on the NextGen flight pattern changes made at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The 2014 Sky Harbor flight pattern changes moved air traffic to fly over heavily populated areas, including DC Ranch, creating potential safety hazards and noise issues.

DC Ranch Residents are encouraged to attend. The greater number of people the FAA hears from could impact their decision on adjusting flight patterns. Community Council staff will voice concerns on behalf of the DC Ranch community-at-large.

If the Sky Harbor NextGen flight pattern changes have negatively impacted the enjoyment of your home, this is your opportunity to speak up!

Click here for more information from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Click here for more information from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

This is the schedule for the meetings in the Phoenix area:

Feb. 12, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Desert Vista High School
16640 S. 32nd St.
Phoenix, AZ 85048

Feb. 13, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Cesar Chavez High School
3927 W. Baseline Road
Laveen Village, AZ 85339

Feb. 14, 2019
5 to 8 p.m.
Paradise Valley High School
3950 E. Bell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85032

The workshops will be held in an open-house format. People can arrive any time between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to view project display boards and talk to FAA subject matter experts.

Nov. 29, 2018

At their November 13 meeting, Scottsdale City Council voted to hire JDA Aviation Technology Solutions for the purpose of consulting and providing expert opinions regarding aviation issues produced by Sky Harbor’s 2014 NextGen flight pattern changes. This will be a contractual agreement for the city, not to exceed $115,000.

Nov. 5, 2018

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning to hold public workshops in February/March of 2019 to seek public input on the eastbound routes out of Sky Harbor Airport.

In 2014, the FAA revised flight path routes around the country, including at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The new flight paths, called NextGen, moved Sky Harbor eastbound air traffic to fly over DC Ranch and other areas of Scottsdale that were not previously in the Sky Harbor flight path.

The DC Ranch Community Council has been working with Congressman Schweikert and the Scottsdale Mayor’s office to get the FAA to reconsider the changes they made to the eastbound flight patterns. These meetings signal the FAA has agreed to listen.

It is imperative that residents attend the FAA workshops and weigh-in as to how the increased air traffic over DC Ranch has impacted you and your family. DC Ranch will notify residents when the meeting dates, times and locations are set by the FAA.

August 2018

The city of Scottsdale recently hired a Washington D.C. lobbying firm, Covington & Burling, L.L.P., to develop and implement a strategy to impact Sky Harbor’s eastern flight patterns that were changed as part of the FAA’s 2014 NextGen. DC Ranch Community Council is working with the Mayor’s office and other elected officials to lessen NextGen’s impact on the community.

May 22, 2018

On May 21, DC Ranch Community Council received a reply to its letter dated March 27 to FAA Western-Pacific Regional Administrator Dennis Roberts. In the letter, Roberts stated the FAA is still working through Step One of their Court Ordered Memorandum which addresses procedural changes to westbound flights out of Sky Harbor.

The letter goes on to say, “Under Step Two of the Memorandum, the FAA agreed to consider comments on procedures outside the scope of Step One. The proposal and adoption of any procedure changes other than those related to western departures would be solely at the FAA’s discretion. Nevertheless, the FAA will conduct community outreach meeting with the public as part of Step Two. The purpose of the meetings will be to inform the public regarding any changes in procedures being considered and to solicit public comments.” Residents will be informed when these meetings dates are known.

In the meantime, DC Ranch Community Council will continue to work with Congressman Schweikert and the Scottsdale Mayor’s office to stress the need for procedural changes that will lessen the impact of NextGen on the DC Ranch community-at-large.

April 2, 2018

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented two new west flow Area Navigation (RNAV) Standard Instrument Departure (SID) procedures. These amendments to air traffic procedures are part of the first step (“Step One”) in implementing an agreement between the FAA and the Petitioners, City of Phoenix and certain historic neighborhood petitioners, as a result of the court decision.

The procedures that were implemented on March 29 are for westbound aircraft that turn north or continue westward after departing from Sky Harbor. Implementation of the proposed southwest departure corridor is pending further consultation. The FAA intends to decide on the southwest departure changes before May 24, 2018.

None of these changes affect the eastbound flights that impact DC Ranch.

DC Ranch Community Council, represented by Chris Irish, will continue to work with Congressman Schweikert and the Scottsdale Mayor’s office to stress to the FAA that eastbound flights must also be addressed.

Residents who are impacted may also reach out to the FAA to request the eastbound flights be adjusted. | Contact Info

Feb. 8, 2018

DC Ranch, represented by Chris Irish, Executive Director of the Community Council, attended the February 8 FAA Workshop at Horizon High School seeking community input on the NextGen flight path changes. Community concerns were discussed along with presenting a formal letter to the FAA. | Read Letter

Jan. 22, 2018

The FAA will hold three public workshops on February 6, 7, and 8 to address their NextGen flight patterns which increased Sky Harbor air traffic over DC Ranch starting in 2014. While westbound routes are the FAA’s primary focus, this is an opportunity to make known concerns with eastbound routes.| Learn More