FAA may revisit Upper Newport Bay flight path

The Federal Aviation Administration could revisit Newport Beach's request that the agency consider developing an advanced departure procedure from John Wayne Airport that would dampen the roar of jet engines over homes neighboring the Upper Newport Bay, according to a letter the FAA sent the city.

But first, FAA officials said, the world's busiest airport is in line for a test version of the upgrade.

Starting this fall, Delta Air Lines pilots taking off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will have the option of flying a Requiered Navigation Performance departure procedure, which would "take aircraft on a curving path over a golf course" west of the airport, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor wrote in an email.

The advanced departure will be available to Delta Air Lines pilots taking off from Runway 27R for a 90- to 120-day test period, if they request it.

Atlanta was chosen for the prototype because its air traffic controllers have extensive experience working on other advanced satellite-guided take-off and landing procedures through the FAA's NextGen program, he wrote.

RNP departures are essentially the most advanced types of NextGen procedures and until now have been reserved in the U.S. for takeoffs under difficult geographical constraints — as in Juneau, Alaska, where planes risk crashing into mountains if they veer off course.

Although Newport's procedure is still years away from guiding planes over the curves of the Back Bay, City Manager Dave Kiff said the letter was heartening.

"I was worried we were going to get a flat-out no," he said. Instead, the city took it as a "strong maybe."

Atlanta International said the prototype will be the FAA's "latest step" showing that NextGen technology "is in the best interest of the FAA, the airlines, airport sponsors and the traveling public."

"We partner with the FAA on an ongoing basis to ensure the operation of ATL is as efficient as possible," airport spokesman Reese McCranie wrote in an email. "We are very excited to be able to participate in this."

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