The Federal Aviation Administration has successfully completed tests for a new John Wayne Airport flight path, and planes will start flying the new route this month.
The procedure is the result of a nearly one-year tussle between Newport Beach residents and FAA officials, who agreed to modify a new satellite-based navigation system after residents complained about jet engine noise in the skies above some homes.
The new route, called STREL, replaces two others that had raised the ire of residents on the east side of upper Newport Bay and in the Irvine Terrace neighborhood. They said that when planes started using the new system in 2009, more aircraft flew over their homes.
The FAA modified the route. But the adjustment didn’t go far enough, so the agency decided to tweak the flight path some more, said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.
To test the new path, the FAA asked Southwest Airlines to fly 36 flights over a three-day period in January.
Gregor said the planes flew farther to the west, away from the Bluffs community, and in a “tight track that runs approximately equidistant from communities on the west and east sides.”
“Based on the results,” Gregor said, “we think this procedure will address the concerns that the residents around the airport have expressed.”
The new flight procedure will affect about 90 planes departing each day, including commercial aircraft and private planes equipped with the new GPS equipment. It applies only to planes flying to points east of Las Vegas.
Before pilots start using STREL, the FAA will brief air traffic controllers and verify that airlines have loaded the program into their onboard computers.