In 2003, Congress directed the development of a “Next Generation Air Transportation System.” NextGen, as it is now called, was intended to improve aviation safety and efficiency through the use of ground-based and, increasingly, space-based technology. An important part of the NextGen initiative is the development of new airspace and air traffic procedures.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approach to the mandate from Congress was to divide the United States into 21 “metroplexes.” John Wayne Airport (JWA), along with Burbank, Long Beach, Ontario, Los Angeles, San Diego and a number of other airports comprise the “Southern California Metroplex.”
According to the FAA, the SoCal Metroplex project is intended to improve the efficiency of the airspace in Southern California by optimizing aircraft arrival and departure procedures. The project involves changes in aircraft flight paths and/or altitudes in certain areas.
County of Orange Lawsuit Settlement
The County’s concern regarding the inadequacy of the FAA’s environmental review led the Board of Supervisors to file a lawsuit challenging FAA’s “Finding of No Significant Impact” and “Record of Decision.” The Cities of Laguna Beach and Newport Beach filed lawsuits on similar grounds. The Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals granted the County’s petition to intervene in the City of Newport Beach’s lawsuit.
On January 19, 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the Settlement Agreement with the City of Newport Beach and the County of Orange.