I’ve seen a few postings on social media that are concerning and play into the FAA’s strategy of pitting neighbor against neighbor in defense of the indefensible: Their recent and radical NextGen change. For over 70 years, Vashon Island was part of a miles-wide swath, including the surrounding waters and eastern Kitsap County, which contained the randomly dispersed west side downwind arrival tracks. When the wind is southerly, planes arriving from south of Seattle first fly north of the airport before making a U-turn to land into the wind. The noise burden was fairly distributed so that everybody got a little — so little in fact that it was barely noticeable. With NextGen, those 250 daily arrivals are now all focused in a razor sharp track 100 yards wide. To make it worse, NextGen also lowered flight tracks by thousands of feet at the same time in a failed attempt for all those U-turns to happen in Elliot Bay.
NextGen is in fact the ultimate expression of NIMBY-ism: Take a burden that had always been fairly shared and instead concentrate all the cost to a small group of people. It’s the FAA telling the majority, “We’ll take the occasional noise in yours and the majority’s backyards and dump all of it in a few people’s yards, who will then have constant noise — but don’t worry, not yours.” Fighting to reverse NextGen is fighting for justice and against NIMBY-ism.
Finally, the activism to reverse NextGen is not due to the recent record SeaTac passenger levels. It’s the planes — not the people on the planes — that make the noise. SeaTac had fewer operations in 2018 (438,391) than in the year 2000 (445,677). I was here in 2000, and the plane noise was nothing like it is today.
— David Goebel