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FAA seeks public feedback on proposed Las Vegas flight routes

Transportation officials are set to unveil proposed new flight routes for Las Vegas and they want the public’s input.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Metroplex project calls for using a satellite-based navigation system to design routes as opposed to the decades-old beacon-based navigation system used today.

Las Vegas is the last of 12 regions to move to adopt the system.

“Las Vegas is one of the busiest metropolitan areas in the county,” Tamara Swann, the FAA’s deputy regional administrator overseeing the Metroplex project, said Tuesday in a presentation to the Clark County Commission. “McCarran International is the seventh busiest airport in the nation. Metroplex will address future growth and demand.”

Utilizing the new technology will allow officials to better route aircraft in the region where the mountainous terrain surrounding Las Vegas and the restricted military airspace tied to nearby Nellis Air Force Base present barriers to air travel.

FAA officials likened the switch to motorists moving from paper maps to GPS.

The satellite-based system provides several benefits that will improve air travel in the area, Swann said.

Routes could be built and programmed into computers, allowing the aircraft to fly automatically. That would decrease the amount of communication between pilots and air traffic controllers, which would lessen the chance of miscommunication and lead to safer flights, she said.

The system will feature routes that improve takeoff and landing procedures, which will lead to increased efficiency and a decrease in noise.

That improved efficiency will open up the possibility to new flights at McCarran International Airport and other area airports, according to Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County aviation director.

“What that means to us on the ground is capacity,” Vassiliadis said. “We know we get very congested in peak times, and so if this helps balance, or level off those peak times, this would be a benefit to the capacity of McCarran. That would allow for extra operations and more than anything, we, Las Vegas, won’t be starting any type of delay.”

Next week the FAA will host a series of public meetings around the valley to allow residents the chance to see the proposed routes on display boards, provide feedback on the proposed routes, interact with FAA and airport personnel and more.

The first of the meetings is slated for Tuesday at Henderson Executive Airport, then April 10 at the North Las Vegas Airport and April 11 at the Clark County Government Center. All meetings will go from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Following the public meetings and a 30-day comment period, the FAA will consider all applicable comments while developing its draft environmental assessment for the project.

The FAA will then host additional public meetings ahead of drafting its final environmental assessment. Following that, the FAA will conduct additional workshops to inform the public about the final routes.

Implementation of any new routes is scheduled for mid-2020, Swann said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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