FAA Shifts Night Flights Over Lake Arrowhead Further East

A full year after rerouting aircraft from the east headed to Ontario International Airport onto a flight path almost directly over Lake Arrowhead, the Federal Aviation Administration late last month adjusted its policy to alleviate the sound impacts to the community during evening hours.
On April 27, 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration initiated its Southern California Metroplex Project, which was intended to increase the efficiency of the approaches into five Southern California commercial airports and reduce fuel consumption. The revised routing, based on pre-set satellite navigation beams, diverted westbound planes formerly headed to Ontario International Airport from their previous trajectory over the San Bernardino Mountains using Heaps Peak as a pass-over locus to the airspace above 5,100 foot elevation Lake Arrowhead. With those planes flying at anywhere from an elevation of 7,200 feet to 9,600 feet on what is referred to as the EAGLZ route, those planes passed somewhere between 2,100 feet to 4,500 feet over the homes, schools and businesses of Lake Arrowhead.
Lake Arrowhead residents found the resultant engine noise to be anywhere on the scale from mildly irritating to absolutely unbearable. There were conflicting figures as to how many planes come into Ontario on the EAGLZ route daily, with the Federal Aviation Administration acknowledging an average of no fewer than 29. Anecdotal counts by residents put that number at closer to 80 per day. Furthermore, Lake Arrowhead residents said that an internet site, www.Planefinder.net documented planes flying as low as 1,640 feet above Lake Arrowhead.
In short order Lake Arrowhead residents began importuning their governmental representatives, ranging from Second District San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford to Assemblyman Jay Obernolte to Congressman Paul Cook to U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, to seek a solution.
Lake Arrowhead resident David Caine formed the group Quiet Skies Lake Arrowhead, which redoubled those efforts and initiated a petition-gathering drive which netted 4,000 signatures on a resolution requesting the route to be changed. Some residents advocated legal action, which resulted in Rutherford and her representatives insisting that such an approach would not have a salutary effect, and might even harden the Federal Aviation Administration’s position. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintained that it had served public notice of the Metroplex Project and the EAGLZ route in a way that was legally adequate, had engaged in public outreach and held information workshops, all ahead of making the change.
While 365 days after the initiation of EAGLZ, planes continued to fly almost directly over Lake Arrowhead during daylight hours, Southern California’s terminal control center began vectoring Ontario Airport’s nighttime arrivals onto a path east of the EAGLZ arrival route.
The FAA in January signaled that it was working toward making just such a change in the flight path during evening hours, which it said would be forthcoming this spring. Just ahead of the change, which came upon the one-year anniversary of the April 27, 2017 switch to the EAGLZ route, the FAA through its special programs office and regional administrator, Dennis Roberts, announced the change.
The adjustment was welcomed throughout the community, but others have hastened to point out that several daytime flights at an approximate altitude of 7,700 feet pass over 5,780-foot elevation Rim of the World High School, a clearance of some 1,920 feet, on a daily basis.
San Bernardino County Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford on April 26 released a statement. “Hopefully, the new route will lessen the impacts of the FAA’s poor decision to reroute flights over Lake Arrowhead last year,” Rutherford said. “But we aren’t spiking the football yet. We have to continue working to encourage the FAA to make additional changes to fully address residents’ concerns about commercial jets buzzing their community.”
-Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply