Keith Ellison, 5th District
1. What is your position on PBN/RNAV and NextGen?
KE: Upgrading our air transportation system is important, but must consider the effects on local communities. NextGen involves not just PBN/RNAV but also important safety updates to communication, radar, and weather technology.
Under current law, by June 30th 2015 every major airport in the country should have RNAV fully implemented. The FAA proposed complete RNAV implementation at MSP in the fall of 2012. Due to the advocacy of groups like FairSkies and elected officials from Minneapolis the FAA has agreed to only go forward with RNAV on arrivals at MSP (STARs), but they will almost certainly look to expand RNAV to departures (SIDs) in the future. I have told the FAA that any consideration of changing flight paths over the residential communities of Minneapolis, Richfield, and Edina must include genuine input and engagement with the affected communities.
2. What will you do, as an elected official, to address and support our concerns and goals? Provide
specific steps and actions.
KE: If reelected, I will continue to actively engage FairSkies members so that I am always aware of your concerns and so we are working collaboratively to address the livability and environmental impacts of RNAV and airport operations. I recently joined the Quiet Skies Caucus in Congress to work with my colleagues towards an equitable solution to airport noise issues. I will follow the upcoming FAA reauthorization closely and will be working with other members of the Quiet Skies caucus to make sure that the FAA’s mission not only reflects its responsibility to safely operate our air transportation system, but also the needs and concerns of the hundreds of thousands of people nation wide who are impacted by airport noise and operations.
3. Regarding the FAA’s currently proposed CATEX for PBN, do you support the MSP Noise Oversight Committee’s resolution, endorsed by MAC, which calls for the FAA to return to Congress to seek clarification on implementation and also calls for a future process that considers and evaluates community noise impact concerns effectively? If yes, what will you do to ensure that this resolution is approved at the federal level?
KE: Yes. In fact, I support a complete environmental review and assessment of RNAV/PBN implementation. Noise impacts are the most prominent livability challenge presented by PBN implementation. They are an environmental impact and should be studied and mitigated accordingly. I will work with my colleagues in the Quiet Skies Caucus to make sure that the forthcoming FAA reauthorization reflects the environmental and livability impacts of airport operations and that they are studied and treated like any other major federal project.
4. Do you support the MAC’s and Met Council’s Long-Term Comprehensive Plan for airport growth? What is your vision for the MSP Airport growth and statewide airport growth?
KE: MSP is an invaluable asset for the region and the state. Air traffic is projected to increase for the foreseeable future and it is important that MSP is prepared for that increase in traffic, and plans accordingly. I do believe however that any proposed alternatives or expansions of our state airport network need to be studied. Regional and local airports around the state need to be considered in a holistic plan about how we move goods and people. I support moving some of the burden of operations from MSP and the impacted communities and promoting underutilized airports around the state.
5. What are your specific ideas for reducing airplane noise and air pollution? Do you support
lowering the decibel level DNL metric from 65 to 55?
KE: Everything must be considered when working to reduce noise and air pollution. I would like to see MSP airlines replace their aging fleets with efficient, modern aircraft. Required Navigation Performance should be studied to see if the curvy and narrow flight paths will allow for navigation along corridors with minimal residential impacts. I also support the expanded use of ground noise control to reduce operational noise and low frequency noise.
Not only do I support reducing the national DNL level to 55 decibels, I support using a metric that actually reflects the impacts of noise. DNL is a flawed measurement and should be replaced with science-based metrics that accurately show the negative impacts of noise and pollution from airplane operations on impacted communities.