From Sam Blair, Brian Cox, Denise Davis, Patreece Lanier, Calvin McGuirt, Ben Miley and Bob Petruska of Charlotte, in response to “Discuss noise, but know airport is vital” (Feb 10):
In his op-ed, Charlotte Chamber CEO Bob Morgan states, “Even if you don’t fly, you should recognize Charlotte Douglas is important.”
We agree, and we do fly.
The importance of the airport is not the issue, nor is its growth. In fact, growth at the airport is relatively flat: 44.9 million passengers in 2015, down to 44.4 million in 2016, and back up to 45.9 million in 2017. Also of note, statistics show passengers on three out of every four flights are connecting and not originating or ending in Charlotte.
The issue is the procedural changes made by the FAA in 2016 to decades-old and well-known air traffic patterns that we all relied on when purchasing our homes. These changes were made without conversations involving those most affected: Charlotte citizens on the ground.
The new FAA procedures subject long-established neighborhoods, some over 10 miles from the airport, to hundreds of daily arrivals flying on concentrated flight paths at altitudes as low as 3,000 feet. Furthermore, departures that previously ascended over industrially zoned land now immediately turn and rattle the windows in residential areas. Even neighborhoods historically somewhat affected are now inundated with even lower and more frequent air traffic. The most unfortunate live where routes for arrivals and departures converge.
The FAA has operated flights safely over Charlotte-area skies for decades. The long-overdue implementation of new satellite technology should help reduce the impact of noise and emissions on the ground. Instead, that technology is being used to shorten and fly more direct routes, ultimately benefiting the bottom line of airlines at the expense of the quality of life in Charlotte.
Having a “world-class” airport coupled with “quality neighborhoods and a high quality of life” should not be mutually exclusive concepts. But let’s be candid: the FAA is not interested nor invested in the latter. It is a federally funded agency imposing bureaucratic will on Charlotte-area taxpayers, without meaningful pre-implementation citizen involvement or consultation with Charlotte’s mayor and City Council.
We hope Charlotte’s leaders will stand up for its neighborhoods and residents, as the leaders of Phoenix and Baltimore recently have, by insisting the FAA reconsider the extreme negative impact they have caused by not sufficiently researching what is beneath these new highways in the sky: decades old neighborhoods, schools, parks, families and children. We also urge American Airlines to use its influence to reduce the concentration of noise and emissions over Charlotte’s most populated areas.
Our neighborhoods and the people who reside in them are equally important to “the continued growth and vitality of our economy.”
The authors are members of the Charlotte Airport Community Roundtable. Their opinions are their own, and not necessarily the Roundtable’s.