As you know, the FAA changed the departure flight path from National Airport in 2015 adversely impacting a large portion of Northwest DC with nearly constant loud aircraft noise. The Coalition promptly filed a Petition for Review in 2015 with the US Court for the DC Circuit upon learning of the change and hearing the noise increase it produced.
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.
The Court found that two small notices posted in the back pages of the Washington Post of the intent to do an Environmental Assessment of the entire DC Metroplex and the fact that one had been completed were adequate notice of the proposed flight path. The only support for that decision is an old Supreme Court Clean Water case which sanctioned publication as a means of providing notice but did not state that it was sufficient to satisfy NEPA’s requirements that agencies make “diligent efforts to involve the public”. In this case, the FAA made diligent efforts to ensure no one in DC was aware of the new flight path until it was an accomplished fact.
The Coalition will consider what, if any, steps need to be considered next, but requesting rehearing by the Court and pursuing our Administrative Petition with the FAA are being considered. The Opinion is found below.
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Chairman, DC Fair Skies Coalition
Counsel to the Coalition