WCOG mayors host FAA Metroplex project discussion

Satellite navigation is coming to Cleveland-Detroit airspace as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) NextGen Metroplex project. Most airplanes already navigate with GPS, but their routes are defined by land-based "navigation aids." Satellite navigation will free routes from these physical constraints and enable the FAA to draw new, more efficient highways in the sky. Benefits include fuel, personnel and time savings; increased safety, flexibility, capacity and reliability; and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Hopkins, Burke Lakefront, and Cuyahoga County airports are included in the project. Arrival flight paths are constrained by existing runways. Departure paths are more flexible, offering the opportunity for planes to get on route more quickly.

The FAA is seeking public input now in order to incorporate community concerns before the design is complete and the environmental impact is assessed. Three community meetings have been held, and comments will be accepted until Oct. 15 through faa.gov/nextgen/communityengagement/cle. The FAA will present the completed design for further comments. Implementation is targeted for mid-2018.

FAA Regional Administrator Barry Cooper, co-Project Lead Ron Wood, Cleveland Hopkins Interim Director Fred Szabo, and Community Relations Manager Jacqueline Muhammad sought westside mayors' input at the Sept. 14 Westshore Council of Governments (WCOG) meeting.

Mr. Wood noted that Cleveland's airspace has been stable for a number of years. They will try to minimize low-altitude changes, but departures may fan out more. Whenever possible, residential impact is minimized by making turns over Lake Erie and routing planes over the Cuyahoga Valley and highways.

Legal consultant Dave Matty stated that any move of air traffic toward the western suburbs "would be a disaster. Things are quiet now, and that's the way we like it." Planes should turn neither too soon, nor too sharply.

Mayors Pamela Bobst of Rocky River and Eileen Patton of Fairview Park noted that they encourage residents to use Hopkins Airport's complaint process, and airport officials have been responsive to community concerns.

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Volume 8, Issue 18, Posted 9:40 AM, 09.20.2016