Blumenthal challenges FAA flight plans

Nick Rees May 12, 2009, 12:00am

Richard Blumenthal (D)

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - The Connecticut attorney general is opposing Plans by the Federal Aviation Administration to redesign flight paths for large planes that would send them into airspace over the southwestern part of the state.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal presented his argument to the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday.

The attorney general said as many as 150 additional planes per day could be put into larger holding patterns over Fairfield County, potentially increasing noise levels and threatening air pollution, if the redesign goes through. The planes would leave from two New York airports, Westchester County and LaGuardia.

"These FAA flight paths fly in the face of reason and law - completely disregarding the impact of noise levels on highly populated areas throughout the Northeast," Blumenthal said in a statement. "The FAA knew that it had defective data on noise and traffic, but then inexplicably refused to correct its facts."

Blumenthal is joined in his suit by nine towns - New Canaan, Wilton,
Darien, Stamford, Greenwich, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and
Purchase, N.Y. - as part of a joint state-municipal alliance.

The suit asks the appeals court to rescind the new flight paths because the FAA neither acknowledged nor analyzed the impact of the increased noise on residents and state parks. Blumenthal's action also says that the FAA violated the National Environmental Policy Act as well as other statues by failing to make the analysis.

"Our argument in court is that the FAA disregarded its own rules, plain facts, and federal law -- infecting the result with clear error. I ask the court to reject the FAA's plan because better solutions would reduce flight delay without damaging our air and environment," he said. "The FAA plan --which we urge the court to send back -- will produce more air traffic and congestion, spewing more noise and air pollution."

Blumenthal also argued that the FAA deviated from its own rules and law requiring it to project noise levels, implement night-ocean routing as an alternative, use proper air traffic data and monitor noise impacts.

The FAA, Blumenthal argues, also did not address the disproportionate noise impacts on minority populations and did not include a noise compliance monitoring provision in its plan.

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