The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) NextGen modernization program is benefiting countless travelers while simultaneously frustrating residents all across the U.S.
The more precise flight paths were implemented back in 2014 to save time and fuel, reduce emissions and increase the number of planes that can operate at a given airport.
According to the Associated Press, the changes have been welcomed by many people. However, those who are still being affected suffer from significantly more noise as a result of flights passing by at lower altitudes more frequently. Phoenix filed a lawsuit against the FAA over the disruptive noise in some of the city's historic neighborhoods during 2015 after receiving thousands of complaints.
Residents in other places—including California, New York, North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, D.C.—have expressed similar frustrations with the NextGen program. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has even ordered the state's attorney general to prepare a lawsuit against the FAA over the new routes.
Hogan said the new flight paths are making families "miserable in their own homes."
While many residents want to at least be consulted by the FAA in hopes of reaching a solution, a former agency executive is wary that its possible.
"There is an intrinsic issue of concentrating noise in particular places that comes with precision-based navigation that is inescapable," former FAA chief operating officer, David Grizzle told the AP.
The residents who have benefitted from the redrawn flight paths haven't been nearly as vocal as those who are receiving more noise. Therefore, the influx of complaints has the FAA under immense pressure.
Though the agency is meeting with members of the public in some places, it is highly unlikely the NextGen program can exist with its current benefits without creating significant noise for some neighborhoods.
The FAA has said in the past that "reverting to previous air traffic control procedures is not viable" because the procedures are "interdependent." Essentially, one change would lead to several others.
With air travel more popular than ever and the new flight paths boasting numerous benefits, finding resolution won't be easy. Nonetheless, travelers can take solace in the fact government officials are in tune with the issue and working to improve the experience.