Denver International Airport does not have to revise flight paths, according to Federal Court rules

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A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by several metropolitan counties against the Federal Aviation Administration, ending a long dispute over noise levels at Denver International Airport disrupting neighboring neighborhoods.

The Washington DC circuit judges of the United States Court of Appeals said the counties “have failed to demonstrate their standing to advance their claims.”

“With respect to the remaining claims, which are filed by the six claimants, we again find ourselves without an affidavit or other evidence to support a claimant’s standing, and several claimants’ quality theories also suffer from legal flaws,” declared the judgment.

The six petitioners, led by the Centennial Airport Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority, argued that an FAA analysis of the impact of the Denver Metroplex project was inadequate and did not allow for the participation of the community to the development of the project. The other petitioners include Greenwood Village, Mountain Aviation Inc. and the counties of Gilpin, Arapahoe and Douglas.

Locals raised concerns about flight noise during public comments at the Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable. At the last recorded meeting in May, a resident of Greenwood Village complained that more “loud and circular” flights recently flew over his home.

The Metroplex project, which came into effect in 2020, aimed to improve the efficiency of various airports, including the DIA, by modifying the arrival and departure procedures of planes. The project uses satellite navigation to guide air traffic and has created 29 new routes for taking off or landing planes.

In their response, FAA officials categorically denied the charges.

“The FAA’s modeling and reasoning also supports its conclusions on other impacts, and the petitioners have not shown otherwise,” the agency said. “The FAA correctly identified the relevant environmental concerns, and its analysis fully supports its conclusion of no significant impact.”

This isn’t the first time – and quite possibly not the last time – DIA has faced complaints of disruptive flight noise. In 2018, Adams County sued the DIA after violating a 1988 agreement to monitor and limit noise levels in exchange for county land. A Jefferson County judge ruled against the DIA, which paid Adams County $ 33.5 million.


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