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Litigation Related to the FAA's Environmental Document for NextGen

In Fall of 2016, the Newport Beach City Council authorized the filing of a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding NextGen’s implementation at JWA.

The City filed its lawsuit after it did not see adequate protections for the Newport Beach community’s quality of life in the environmental document prepared by the FAA for its NextGen project. The City argued that the FAA could use the environmental document to significantly change the historical flight paths down the middle of the Upper Newport Bay. Under the NextGen environmental document, flight paths for planes departing from SNA could have been routed across a majority of the city, from the tip of Newport Coast to the Santa Ana River.

The City and FAA reached a settlement agreement in early 2018. The legal settlement also involved the County of Orange, the operator of SNA, which intervened in the action after the City filed its lawsuit.

As a direct result of the City’s litigation, the FAA agreed that the NextGen flight paths will stay between the existing SNA noise monitors and will design and study one of the nation’s first, precision-based curved departure procedures for SNA. This procedure, which was implemented in Spring 2018, generally has planes follow the curves of the Upper Newport Bay, therefore avoiding as many residential areas as possible.

Further, the FAA agreed to ensure all future changes to flight paths will be fully analyzed anew under the National Environmental Policy Act. Additional protections were also secured against excessive “early offshore turns” that, if allowed, would bring certain departures closer to Corona del Mar and Newport Coast.