City officials Tuesday said they’ve reached a tentative agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to settle a dispute over flight paths at John Wayne Airport.
The city of Newport Beach and Orange County sued the FAA after the agency changed the flight paths as part of a broad regional update to Southland airports in 2016, allowing planes to lift off closer to Newport Beach’s pricey seaside homes rather than farther out over the ocean.
As part of the agreement announced Tuesday, the FAA agreed that “flight paths will stay between the existing SNA (John Wayne Airport) noise monitors and (planners) will design and study one of the nation’s first precision-based curved departure procedures for SNA. This procedure, planned for implementation in the coming weeks, would in theory allow planes to follow the curves of the Upper Newport Bay, therefore avoiding as many residential areas as possible,” according to city officials.
“Further, the FAA agreed to ensure all future changes to flight paths will be fully analyzed anew under the National Environmental Policy Act. Finally, additional protections were secured against excessive `early offshore turns’ that, if allowed, would bring certain departures closer to Corona del Mar and Newport Coast,” the city’s statement said.
Newport Beach City Attorney Aaron Harp said the settlement agreement represents an outcome “better than what could be expected had this matter gone through to trial.”
Mayor Marshall Duffield agreed.
“The litigation was a bold step for the City Council in 2016 … and it is coming to a successful legal conclusion,” Duffield said. “Protecting our community against the negative impacts of the airport is the most important thing we do here in Newport Beach.”
City officials said the agreement remains subject to the approval of the FAA and the U.S. Department of Justice.
—City News Service
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