Delayed MAC Appointments

SMAAC is very concerned that millions of dollars have been spent, and many millions more planned, for operations and facilties at MSP since the last-reviewed capital improvements program was funded. Indeed the 2011-2016 programs were soon amended implying changes to the MSP LTCP last approved in early 2011 (CIP numbers for 2011-2017).

Met Council and the airports commission acted improperly, and failed the public directly, by postponing the required TPP Public Hearing and indirectly by proceeding, perhaps illegally, with capital improvements supporting a much higher annual capacity than planned in prior LTCPs. 
 
The situation was not improved by delaying MAC Chair and Commissioner appointments. Commissioners with expired terms are voting on budgets and not raising the issues of updating plans or transparency.
Public health and safety is theatened by oveflights at closer than needed intervals. Safety risk management (emergencies more likely ) and MSP facilities expense, if based on a high "surge capacity" will be a disservice to the Twin Cities economically.  Surely State oversight and public discussion is needed.
MAC apparently still belives the 2014 CRO safety order will be revised, after 5 years: several amendments were proposed and rejected. Why have the MSP LTCP and the Metro TPP been postponed and public hearings delayed?  Why shouldn't the public know specifically what public costs and benefits might result from restoring a few more scheduled arrivals per hour? The MAC's forecast of annual use by flights and passengers does not require additional annual capacity and Minnesota law would require, in our opinion, an amendment and an EI, since an MSP flight capacity limit was determined in 1996 law and the 1998 FEIS/ROD. 
We think the 1998 theoretical operations per hour maximum (160 operations/hour, documented as 100 arrivals and 60 departures in NW flow) was speculative. The MAC never really figured out what to do as arriving aircraft accumulated in westerly flow. So what number of scheduled arrivals for the hub peak hourss is safe and affordable? The plan and justification should be public information.
What number is sufficient for economic growth?  The approved capapcity plan indicated a 25% increase over 1995 use, or about 120 to 125 operations at peak hours. Who pays for MSP operations and infrastructure? The public. Who suffers from more GHG emissions per flight? Everyone. Who benefits? Not much discussed
We think the Governor needs these answers and getting them should be discussed with his MAC appointees. 

The controversy resulted from operational changes at MSP initiated by the FAA ATC Tower following the near-mid-air-collison in September 2010. The FAA hastily adjusted routes departing R30R to clear airspace and specify turns away from R30L The airports commission was reviewing draft 2010 AOEE and MSP LTCP Update (2011-2017 CIPs) documents.  The ATCT changes were not evaulated regarding 2011 operations, including noise and other issues raised about the new routes, to commissioners, Met Council, Governor Dayton and other elected officials.

 

The LTCP was conditioned on refinement of the cost, environmental impacts (mainly the Consent Decree), and stated plans for maximum safe operations per hour yet to be determined. The 2013 NTSB warning and 2014 FAA Safety Order "suspending arrivals on Runay 35'' were apparently disputed at MSP and CIP projects were continued as if the order was soon to be revised or withdrawn.

 

Precise management of arrivals is a quantitative goal of Next Gen ATC, but the per-operation precision (time from entering the arrival window to touch down and runway exit) is not independent of site, scheduling, and ground traffic and available gates.

And at this point, aircraft and airports and FAA systems are in flux, with slipping schedules.

Meanwhile, numerous new and modified routes have been drawn up and used experimentally to determine if and how routing might allow more runway operations (closer intervals) safely.  These runway use intervals --under a variety of conditions --are complicated.  SMAAC found that the lower, slower routes are disadvatagous in that the marginal costs of decreasing the intervals is very high, the routes increase fuel use, air pollution and risk --threatening public health and safety --and the routes reduce mitigation eligibility under the Consent Decree. 

 
MSP flight and passenger capacity is set in an agreement between the State and the FAA (1998 FEIS/ROD). The LTCP approaches the planned capacity in 2020.  The 80% of capacity was exceeded by 2005 use and should have triggered a new plan.  However, the depression reduced use and the MAC revised the underlying forecast for 2020, extending it to 2035 (as <620,000 operations in 2020).

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