By reporter Steven Smalley
The noise, pollution, and constant stream of airplanes over Magnolia and Seattle environs are planned to come to a practical end if the Federal Aviation Administration has its way implementing a program called ‘Greener Skies’. Unfortunately, the government process of Environmental Impact Studies and subsequent public involvement has added more to confuse the issue and anger communities than to bring clarity, according to Robert Bismuth, pilot and Magnolia Community Club trustee.
After attending a public meeting and hearing the FAA’s consultant offer his analysis of the program, and then refusing to answer any questions until the end, Bismuth wrote the FAA, complaining the speaker “…Did an absolutely terrible job of presenting his findings.” A strong statement from one who dwells in the land of bureaucrats not accustomed to such blunt assessments.
Bismuth maintains the Greener Skies proposal is, “…Actually a good thing….” when he discussed the matter at-length with Magnolia Voice.
“The controversy surrounds the public meeting the FAA held on the environmental impact statement. The FAA’s consultant did a very poor job of explaining the advantages,” Bismuth explained. “The FAA meeting angered and confused those present.”
In a nutshell, the positive aspects of Greener Skies leads aircraft to the airport on a path based on GPS coordinates and not signals coming from the ground. It will be a radical departure from what was previously a straight shot toward a landing. With the new system in place, jets will swing around Magnolia over Elliott Bay and then turn toward SeaTac on a curve around land. So the approach changes from a straight line to one encircling the likes of North Seattle, Ballard, and Magnolia. But it gets better than that.
“The idea is to come up with approaches that can be flown by airliners with their power settings to idle,” explains Bismuth.
Instead of the current “stair-step” descent into the airport that pilots must keep power on during certain portions of level flight, Greener Skies allows aircraft a gradual slope with engines on idle generating almost no noise. This produces less pollution overall, and huge fuel savings for airlines.
“The airlines are crying out for these approaches because it will save them several hundred gallons of fuel per flight which is a major economic advantage,” Bismuth said. “Lower airline operating costs equate to lower ticket prices and more jobs.”
“The approaches into Boeing Field can also be modified as part of this process,” he continued. “Those approaches will curve over Elliott Bay too. When that happens, those 4:30A.M. flights that people get disturbed by will no longer disturb them. Because the aircraft will be over the water.”
When asked what he wished for, Bismuth said, “You need the FAA to say what I’m saying so people will understand…the buck stops with the FAA. I believe that when the people of Magnolia fully understand the benefits of the Greener Skies Program, they will all support it.”