FAA Manager Valencia says traffic patterns at Centennial were not changed

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER

The Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable met on January 4, 2023. Photo by Freda Miklin

As the two-hour plus January 4 meeting of the Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable (CACNR) was drawing to a close, Mike Valencia, General Manager Denver District at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), called into the meeting and said that it was his responsibility to change traffic patterns at Centennial Airport and that he had not done so. This, even though there has been a widely held belief by local residents, local elected officials, and even Colorado’s two U.S. Senators and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, that traffic patterns were changed after a mid-air (non-injury) collision over Cherry Creek State Park in May 2021.

Valencia acknowledged that there has been a 10% to 15% increase in air traffic from Centennial Airport over neighborhoods north of Arapahoe Road, but said, “I’m an air traffic controller. Our number one job is to prevent collisions…There are over 30,000 airports in this country. For us to address every noise issue is unreasonable but we are committed to addressing the issues at Centennial.” 

He pledged to attend CACNR’s next meeting on February 1, 2023 in person to provide a more detailed explanation about traffic patterns and procedures at Centennial Airport.

During the citizen comment portion of the January 4 meeting, multiple residents, including several from the Sundance Hills and Cherry Creek Vista South neighborhoods, complained about increased noise and emissions from lead fuel from flights emanating from Centennial Airport. 

Comments from residents, including Lisa and Brad Mauvais, Donna Urban, Tom Morgan, Valerie Watts, Sherry Whitehead, Keith Berman, Audra and David Dubler, and Paul Cucci, included statements like, “Flight patterns were changed after a single incident that was a result of pilot error. Yesterday a plane outside my house drowned out the sound from my ear-pods,” “Novice pilots do touch-and-go’s over densely populated communities from 530 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. The likelihood of pilot error or plane malfunction is very real,” “Due to noise from airplanes and concerns about safety we don’t spend a lot of time outside…Kids can’t get a decent nap due to the air noise,” and, “There should have been public comment when the flight path was changed. The format of this meeting is that people comment and then nothing happens. You come here, you comment, you look like a complainer, and then you go away.”

More than 30 minutes was spent on the phone with Leslie Lardie, Senior Advisor, Office of the Regional Administrator, FAA Northwest Mountain Region in Des Moines, Washington, attending virtually, discussing the logistics of how to send questions about Centennial Airport to the FAA and when answers would be provided. It concluded with Brad Pierce, CACNR Chair, directing residents to send their questions to him at info@centennialairportnoise.com, for forwarding to the FAA. CACNR member Candace Moon, Centennial City Council Member, commented on that arrangement, “As a government agency, the FAA should be responsive, not just to this roundtable, but from constituents directly.”

Several residents commended Mike Fronapfel, executive director of Centennial Airport, as well as Donna Johnston, Greenwood Village city council member, for their support of residents’ concerns. Johnston noted that a noise monitoring device was being installed in her GV home.

CACNR was created in May 2009. It is designed to be a committee of volunteers, comprised of local elected officials, appointed representatives from the community, Centennial Airport staff, a representative from the FAA, a representative from the Aeronautics Division of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and airport users. They meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Centennial Airport. Since the COVID pandemic, all meetings are hybrid and members of the public can participate in-person or virtually. CACNR’s website is https://centennialairport.com/noise-roundtable.

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