Jim Spensley

  • LTCP Survey Response: Caucus Sample Resolution

    Attention Members: The MSP LTCP Update schedule --late by several years -- parallel the 2020 Election schedule. So, let's take an endorsement/platform stand!  You can use the LINK below to access an editable Resolution to modify and share with the campaigns you support and the caucuses and conventions you attend.



  • commented on MSP CRO Update 2019-10-18 16:40:18 -0500
    Several elected municipal officials or staff alternates are seated (a good term for what they do, sit) on the MSP LTCP Stakeholder’s Advisory Panel. Safety risks, PBN/RNAV routes, almost daily changes in forecasts, rules, equipment and technology are blithely presented over two decades of assumptions not including any responsibility for dealing openly about health, cost, or pollution.

  • published FAA: Airlines Trump Health and Safety in News 2019-10-14 08:41:16 -0500

    FAA: Airlines Trump Health and Safety

    The FAA chose to ignore the impact of overflight pollution according to internal USDOT/IG documents originated by FAA. The troubled Next Gen air traffic control program elevated "industry (airline) expectations" over public health and safety.

    CAUTION: While we believe that the premise is correct --FAA usually designs PBN/RNAV route procedures only to increase hourly use of runways and other airport facilities --the IG study was of Metroplex implementations, multiple airports in urban areas. 

    When Next Gen could not resolve air traffic congestion in "more complex" airport and large metropolises without increasing air pollution and safety risks, they doubled down on "efficiency policy."  During the last years of the George W. Bush administration, with the Next Gen program under development --and nothing else funded --FAA anticipated an expansion of routes, along the East Coast especially, and an "airline demand" for greater runway availability at many airports. Outside of the R&D departments, air traffic control management planned to "optimize runway use at minimum separations." 

    This is not news at MSP. FAA tried PBN routes at MSP soon after the September 2010 near-mid-air-collision, and the MAC maintained the illusion that environmental reviews and noise mitigation would be continued. FAA publicity featured "optimized efficient use of airport facilities and airspace," and airlines characterized noise complainers as being against the efficient and optimized flight routes needed for economic growth.

    "Politicians (cynically or stupidly?) adopted the above views and did not question the MAC seriously when investigations of public health and safety or environmental impacts (GHG for example) were denied." Jim Spensley, SMAAC President 




    In a bombshell and likely accidental admission, the FAA revealed the truth about how the MetroPlex and NextGen flight paths were designed 
    without noise, ground safety and public impact issues being considered.  The FAA was responding in writing to an audit conducted 
    by the Transportation Departments Inspector General.  The audit report stated that community noise issues were problems that were causing 
    delays with the FAA's implementation of the MetroPlex program across the Country.  The FAA's response to the audits findings stated that 
    after noise issues became problematic, it later changed it's processes to include those concerns in future design procedures.  But in doing 
    so, it admitted that the original design processes (which were used for the Sky Harbor NextGen flight paths) only considered optimization 
    of paths to benefit the industry.  Here is the text of the FAA response regarding noise concerns from page 37 of the audit report:

    "In order to address extensive community concerns about new noise exposure, procedures are designed and implemented that do not maximize 
    efficiency benefits, but do result in less noise exposure. When the Metroplex program began in 2010, the focus was upon optimizing routes 
    and airspace design. When community concerns were included in the design equation, optimization was no longer the only consideration. It 
    is an extraordinarily complex balancing act to provide both efficiency benefits to industry and to minimize new noise exposure in 
    communities. These are usually competing priorities."

    The FAA also went on to admit that the programs only intent was to make use of all available airspace which created new noise impacts 
    over areas that previously had not experienced flight path intrusions:
    "The intent of the Metroplex program was to make efficient use of all available airspace, which created new noise impacts. In many 
    communities, some neighborhoods experience less noise, and some more-relieved communities generally have not recognized the beneficial 
    noise reductions, while impacted communities strongly oppose the new or increased exposure."

    The title of the  audit report, issued on August 27th is "FAA Has Made Progress in Implementing Its Metroplex Program, But Benefits for 
    Airspace Users Have Fallen Short of Expectations".  The report goes on to say the the FAA is behind schedule in implementing the programs and 
    that benefits as promised are questionable.  Other statements from the report include:

    "Delays have occurred largely due to increased community concerns about aircraft noise."

    "Since 2014, further delays have occurred as FAA has implemented new PBN (Performance Based Navigation) procedures at more sites, largely 
    due to increased community concerns. For example, in fiscal year 2018, FAA cancelled the Phoenix Metroplex project due to litigation related to a previous PBN project."


    Read more

  • commented on LTCP Survey Results 2019-11-01 15:08:02 -0500
    The Survey responses suggesting a social media campaign and platform resolutions at the February 2020 Precinct Caucuses make sense together. A Sample resolution has been drafted. We’re going to post it as a text file in several places for downloading (different platforms and different sponsors to keep track of the forwards, re-tweets, and shares).
    Or you can post here and share that!
    Stand by. Soon there will be a link to the draft

    The Board is contacting several nice people who suggested using social media to start the ball rolling. Some will write their own resolution, we hope, candidates included if they want —the Sample isn’t very catchy.

    Shortly – after we update the list —we will upload the Draft Resoultion file to Mail Chimp and circulate the link in an all-contacts email —and here.

    Happy Haunting,

  • commented on About 2019-09-28 17:54:32 -0500
    Many thnnks to the respondents. We published a new page on the CRO situation. We hope cities and agencies appointed to the LTCP “Stakeholder’s Advisory Panel” are relentless about safety and climate change costs being considered; the airline appointees will be relentless about excluding environmental impacts (increased GHG emissions from closely-scheduled operations) and slow to commit to using new (different) aircraft and upgraded avionics for safety.

  • published Who are the MSP "Stakeholders? in News 2019-09-08 13:34:39 -0500

    Who are the MSP "Stakeholders?

    0The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) set up a Stakeholder Engagement Department and a Stakeholder's Advisory Panel on the MSP Long-Term Comprehensive Plan (LTCP). The Panel is dominated by airlines and others doing business with the MAC, a few city members --seasoned for servile cooperation by noise oversight committee routine --and a handful of government agencies and NGOs. No public or neighborhood panelists. 

    Several public engagement events are planned to "inform citizens" about the LTCP progress and "listen to comments." If you've been there and done that, were your comments used in any way? The events focus on various parts of the LTCP, but are not yet scheduled.

    A few years ago, to impress the Legislature and the Governor, an MSP  Vision Statement and Strategic Plan for a well-appointed and expensive destination airport --serving passengers with daily Delta flights to places Minnesotans and most destination passengers visit less than once a month.  The slickly presented Strategic Plan was apparently considered safe and healthy enough, although this wasn't mentioned.

    It's clear the Converging Runway Operations (CRO) delay was used to submerge the MSP 2014 Long-Term Comprehensive Plan (LTCP) Update and at least the 2017-20 capital projects, floating long-term goals without revealing details to the public directly or to the Met Council and Legislature formally, for appropriate economic growth forecast (O&D passenger use of MSP), financial, or environmental review.

    The CRO details now --stiffer safety-at-peak-hours restrictions --will:

    1. be more to Delta's competitive benefit;
    2. increase fares to pay airline fees;
    3. increase total noise;
    4. use PBN/RNAV route and limit vertical-approach technology to plan arrival rates;
    5. increase air pollution per flight with a greater GHG and overall pollution volume as passengers increase.

    A MAC staff opinion is that the Minnesota Legislature intended that the MAC defer off-site public health and environmental impact statements to the FAA/EPA.  The FAA doesn’t do EAWs at specific airports. Neither MPCA or MAC is responsible for EAW/EIS or public health studies of flight operations. It appears the Evironmental Quality Board has endowed MAC with EAW authority for capital projects and immunized them against appeals.

    A second assumption is that the small site will remain safe enough even if average hourly use increases to the annuaized equivalent of 800,000 to 1 million operations per year and 60 million passengers. That being the case --without a serious accident --the costs will be 3 or 4 times higher than moving to a larger site in 2001 would have been and 2 or 3 times the cost of building a second airport. now.  All of these 3 options are a risky capital investment as airline demand is fickle, not promised: airlines fail financially, real air travel demand is fare and service dependent, and the public may demand a lower public health and safety risk or more attention to GHG releases and global warming.

    Aren't those assumptions worth consideration in developing the LTCP?  We think so. Drafting a plan for 18 months to be considered for 18 minutes in its only pubic hearing seems less transparent and informative than it should be considering the projected cost over 20 years.

  • followed Donate 2019-06-20 14:09:06 -0500


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Retired systems engineer. Activist. Environmentalist. President of the South Metro Airport Action Council
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