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2018 Forum Report

The Online Forum has been modified.

SMAAC' s Survey and Candidate Answers drew attention to ongoing MSP plan-implementations and Federal actions.

The SMAAC Board and the Forum volunteers appreciate attention the DFL Nominee and practically the Representative-Elect, Ilhan Omar, gave to the Forum.  She seems to share our goal for MSP flight operations capacity: safe, sufficient, affordable and environmentally sound.  [The Republican Nominee was asked to participate but did not.]

At this time, and perhaps longer depending on US House elections go in other states, actions in pursuit of this goal in Washington will be helped or hindered by the terms of and appropriations for FAA in the Re-authorization bill, if passed.  It seems likely that less--than-clear aviation policy will prevail in the Re-authorization or a continuing resolution. 

 

SMAAC hopes that MSP and National Airspace System planning positions are debated in Statewide campaigns. We may extend the 2018 Forum and will publish on-line news about that! 

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2018 SMAAC Forum News

After a longer than expected design and survey phase, we were ready August 3rd for the 4 participating Candidates to post their "Opening Statements" and open the Forum to the public.  The Forum "went live" on Sunday. We issued a Public Announcement to 50 media outlets (TV, Radio, Newspapers and on-line publishers) and notified over 700 members and followers by email.

Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, Frank Drake, Ilhan Omar, and Patricia Torres-Ray submitted statements by email, and we asked for confirmation that the sender was delegated by the candidate.  The  Forum Website is 

https://20185thcdelectionforum-smaac.nationbuilder.com

After considering the candidates' statements and the public reactions for a week, a panel will rate the candidates as having GOOD, ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE intentions to support efforts to modify the National Airspace System plans and policies as proposed by SMAAC and other citizens' groups and local government units.  

Simply stated the solution is to directly or indirectly realign routes and hubs to shorten city-hub-city trips and reduce congestion at major hubs.  Flight capacity was re-arranged following airline mergers in 2008 to 2012 and consolidation of connecting hubs.

The Federal Government has invested billions of dollars in Next Gen and related technologies, but the en route implementation creating more routes also created congestion and additional systems at many airports.  In Metoplexes and major hub cities, Next Gen is not likely to add hourly safe capacity --closer sep--arations, shorter intevals and affordable airport facilities and services --as was planned for economic growth prijections. The national airspace system is now in a completely different situation economically, environmentally and ecconomically.  This needs to be recognized.

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Meeting with the Governor

Sen. Dibble, Rep. Hornstein and SMAAC President Spensley met last Summer with Governor Dayton's staff aide in what we thought was a topic-setting session for a meeting with the Governor.  When President Spensley returned in May from wintering in Arizona, SMAAC again asked about the proposed meeting. 
Finally on Friday the 13th of July, this year, a different Senior Aide sent "Jim" a message asking about "his" date-and-time availability for a "meeting."  She copied the MAC Government Affairs guy, Mitch Killian. 
So I replied, first taking the request as about my availability as a priavte person: "The Governor is an important and busy person and I can meet with him any time any day with a few hours notice between now and December 15."
I added that if the requested meeting was finally being arranged, the Aide should "suggest a date and time so I could try to clear it with legislators in impacted districts or serving on transportation committees."
TOPICS
Safety risks and lack of transparency: MAC plans to increase hourly flights without knowing the max safe hourly use but hoping for relief from the CRO Order.  They are building facilities with that as a plan, but they are not publishing a forecast orm comprehensive Plan update.
Health and Safety: New routes and procedures for more arrivals per hour are costly for airlines (Delta for sure) and lead to higher O&D fares. Also, more noise exposure and more pollution per airport operation. Low altitude flights at MSP the past 3 years  were longer near MSP than in 2005 with fewer operations and newer aircraft. This produced more GHG,  from more fuel burned less cleanly, per beneficial passenger.  Despite an FAA/EPA Finding of a public health threat from these overflight emissions, MAC has not assessed the impact as significant.
So, we wanted to know if the Governor knew these facts. What do you suppose Mr. Kilian wants?
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Survey: MN5 Congress Candidates

Your vote in the DFL Primary Election for United States Representative in the Fifth Congressional District needs to be fully informed. We will be replacing a Representative who has worked with SMAAC and FAA to escalate unresolved safe capacity and schedule issues at MSP during Federal development and deployment of Next Gen and PRB/RNAV systems.

It is an uncompleted task.

The Forum is open at

https://tinyurl.com/yc6rtvek 

and if you are registered here you can log-in there. Ou ratings published before the Primary Election.

 

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MSP Impacts on Public Health and Welfare

AIR POLLUTION: There has been no attention to green-house gas (GHG) or sub-micron particulate emissions from MSP flight operations since 2015: by the MAC or the FAA.  Environmental Assessments at MSP have been delayed despite the FAA/EPA Finding in 2014 that Commecial Aviation produces 14% of all US GHG emissions. Additionally, MSP capacity is being expanded per-hour at a high cost and involves maneuvers and flight automation in the vicinity that burn more fuel per operation (than at less-busy hours) causing more GHG/flight as well as unique carbon particulates that are blown around. 

Studies show an alarming increase in health and mortality risks near busy airports.  

ECONOMICS: The postponement of the MSP LTCP Update  (4 years overdue) postpones the FAA's assessments of future needs and impacts. The update is reviewed by Met Council using a Public Hearing with testimony about economic benefits (or negatives) and environmental impacts. 

This is a sorry state of affairs and hides safety risks and high costs (likely both) from the public and the Legislature.  According to MAC senior staff, MSP capital improvements assume a change in arrivals per hour and aircraft sizes extending the 2015-16 Draft Long-Term Comprehensive Plan: the dates and numbers are "a basis" for capital budgets dealing with expensive terminal improvements for hourly passenger uses as well as airfield improvements.  The FAA and the airlines using MSP lack any believeable schedule for deploying the air traffic control and associated cockpit electronics supporting more runway operations per hour.

ACTION; The MAC just patted itself on the back for being rated a "top airport:" the press release was carelessly cited by media. The terminal improvements were impressive (and expensive), but mainly inside security to support peak-hour passenger congregations.

The recent Federal continuing-authorization extended FAA funding though September 20, 2018.  The FAA, however, has not changed the MSP Converging runway operations or programed Next Gen deployment to MSP.  Consequently, MAC planning for GFY 2019 is uninformed as to maximum hourly operations and runway use.

Are neighbors, cities, Legislators, US Reps and Senators -- and the Governor who appoints the MAC and public health and enviromental protection officials -- doing anything                  about this?

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Has Privatized ATC Faded Away?

Congress is not actively pursuing a new FAA Re-Authorization right now, and another continuing resolution extending funding is likely. Politico just reported that House Transportation Committee Chair, Bill Schuster, is no longer insisting on a change to contracted Air Traffic Control or Controllers.  

It has never been clear exactly what "privatizing" or "out-sourcing" air traffic control meant or what benefits were projected. Various draft bills were floated, from directive policy to various amendments to re-authorization or funding legislation. However, the dirty details include safety, cost and implementaion issues of great complexity:

  • Could liability for an emergency result in payments to airlines? Would all air passengers be required to buy or have included in fares travel insurance?
  • How many entities would be contracted? One national contractor? By region? By Radar Facility type (Airport, TRACON, En Route)? By Metroplex? Before, during, or after NextGen deployments?
  • Would Controller proficiency be managed by FAA at each facility or only monitored by FAA throuhg reports and inspections (like aircrew or aircraft maintenance?
  • Would existing controllers be retained on the job? There is a union, Federal retirement and health insurance plans.

Only a fool would have pursued this very long. But there you go.

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National Hub Airport Consortium

SMAAC is contacting citizen groups and municipal governments about joining in proposing National Airspace System revisions that would reduce average city-hub-city routes (miles and hours). This would:

  • save fuel and reduce emissions,
  • reduce FAA ATCT, TRACON and NextGen costs substantially,
  • increase safety margins, and reduce the airfare disparity and neighborhood impacts being experienced in major-hub-airport cities and metro areas.

The FAA development of Next Gen En Route to increase usable airspace (by allowing aircraft to navigate safely outside of FAA radar-transponder service areas) was based on about 70- 75 hub airports (2007). Now --and since about March 2010 --the FAA is attempting to adapt more airport-to-airport routes to 35 to 40 hub airports by increasing actual flight operations/runway/hour. 

The two expressions of the attempt are 1) using aircraft GPS navigation-autopilot routes for airport operaions and 2) complicating the development and deployment of NextGen. Both are uncertain, unmonitored, costly, risky and polluting. Lower departures and more routes, much more intrusive and polluting, are the ongoing result. The development and deployment of Next Gen Airport is delayed and is becoming unaffordable.

Anti-Airport-Noise groups have been protesting intrusive commercial overflights for decades. First at oft-used airports close to residential and other sensitive land-uses and later as national air traffic plans increased both active airport hours (night operations) and peak-hours. These groups share information through Aviation Watch and support each other generally.  SMAAC works with Congressional staff and numerous Representatives and Senators. 

Currently, FAA air traffic control changes caused numerous lawsuits, and these forced FAA and Congress to re-think policy and budget in FAA re-authorizations. 

Currently, we are talking with groups in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.

Welcome to the Special Metro Airports Analysis Consortium or SMAACUS!

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SMAAC Email Changes

As the result of a move and reorganization, SMAAC will no longer use mpds@visi.com for its central email services.

Please address messages to jim.spensley@gmail.com temporarily, or post a message through this website (registration required).

Plans are to create several webmail accounts when internet services are contracted.  

 

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