The Federal Aviation Administration wants South Florida residents to weigh in on the new proposed flight paths for planes coming in and out of the area's airports.
The changes may impact neighborhoods for years to come. Due to the pandemic, the FAA wasn’t able to sit down with residents for their input over the last several months.
The FAA says the new paths will cut flight delays and make the air traffic system safer and more efficient.
"What we are doing is updating the procedures in and out of Florida’s airports," said Michael O'Harra, FAA's Southern Region Administrator.
The FAA’s plan to redesign the South Florida skies has been in the works for months. GPS technology is going to refine the flight patterns initially built decades ago.
North Miami resident Beverly Hilton and the homeowners group got wind of the proposed changes. One of their concerns is the noise.
"I sent them a note and asked them, please to continue to channel it over the water instead of the residential, and it's not just me," Hilton said.
But O'Harra said the planes under the new system may end up at higher altitudes.
"We’ve heard from some of the communities about altitude and as we have done research we’ve found that — and it's not atypical — but what we’ve found in Miami planes year after year are a little bit higher ... and obviously the higher they are, the quieter they can be," he said.
Hilton, other residents and elected officials north of downtown have expressed concerns about a route that comes out of Miami International Airport and heads north, but O’Harra said the FAA went to great lengths to keep these flights over the water.
"Our design team tried to keep those flights that make that turn to the north over the bay as much in the middle of the bay as they could be," he said. "If folks are going to fly up the bay, let's make it as quiet as it can be."
In 2019, the FAA met with residents and got views for its online videos, but due to COVID-19, it’s been holding Zoom meetings for residents' input —something that may not have been on residents' radar.
"We are interested in the public’s comments in our South Florida Central Metroplex project," O'Harra said. "We’ve extended it once. It actually comes to a close of a 74 days comment tomorrow — Friday at midnight."
FAA says it moved some of the routes as much as possible out over the water, over parks, and industrial areas to limit the noise. This fall, they will finalize the routes and they will start flying in 2021. Residents have until Friday at midnight to submit their input.