The Citizens Association of Georgetown, neighboring community groups and Georgetown University filed a Petition for Rehearing in the case by CAG, et al vs FAA pending in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The Petition takes issue with the decision of a three-judge panel of that Court dismissing the suit challenging the FAA’s institution in 2015 of a new flight path over Georgetown and nearby communities as not timely. The Court found that the community did not have reasonable grounds for filing late because of the publication in the back pages of the Washington Post of two small legal notice announcing a study of flight paths around the DC Metroplex. The Petition argues that the FAA publication of the new departure routes over Georgetown was the relevant final order from which Petitioners did appeal within the prescribed time limit. Furthermore even if the relevant order was the FAA Order concluding the preceding study Petitioners contend and they and their elected representatives had no knowledge of that study, newspaper publication of legal notices should not discharge the FAA’s obligations to involve the community in its rulemaking and therefore good cause existed for Petitioners not appealing until the flights were actually implemented and flown. Petitioners hope that the panel that decided the case will review certain factual errors in its decision and proceed to review the merits of Petitioners' claims and failing that providing an opportunity for the entire Court to consider the case.
On Tuesday, March 27th the Court rendered its opinion. Unfortunately, the Court did not reach the merits of the case and dismissed the Petition for Review as untimely. It did so despite the lack of notice to any elected DC Government Official and the efforts by the FAA to ensure no one in the community was aware of the plan to make the LAZIR route the flight path for all northbound departures.
Administration in the Federal Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit was held on Jan 11 at 9:00. CAG, joined by nearby civic associations have challenged the northbound departure route change that has brought a large increase in noise to our community and this is our chance to persuade the Court to require the FAA to cease using this new route.
Listen to the 40 minute argument HERE
According to CAG General Council Richard Hinds the Court seemed to be sympathetic to our arguments about the lack of notice to the community and all DC elected officials (except Congresswoman Norton) of the new departure flight path and the misleading correspondence between Council member Jack Evans and the airport authority in 2013. However the outcome can not be predicted by the Court’s aggressive questioning of the attorneys for both sides. Listen and decide who won!
The Court usually takes several months to craft an opinion that the panel finds acceptable. A quick decision would probably be unfavorable since we carry the burden of proving our appeal was timely or we had reasonable grounds for appealing when we did.
The Mayor lambasts the FAA for not taking action to remedy aircraft noise impacting NW DC. She asks the Secretary of Transportation who oversees the FAA to immediately revert northbound departures from National Airport to the former flight path in effect until 2015. See letter attached here.