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‘Specialized’ law firm picks up noisy flight fight against FAA

A Southwest plane lands at BWI Marshall Airport on Thursday, April 20, 2017. (WTOP/Dennis Foley)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Maryland’s attorney general has hired an outside firm to help as the state pursues legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration over implementation of its “NextGen” operations.

Since the FAA narrowed the flight paths at BWI Marshall and Reagan National airports, as part of the air-traffic overhaul, residents have complained of unbearable, unrelenting noise.

Attorney General Brian Frosh said in areas affected, “It sounds like a train rumbling over the roof of your house and it occurs repeatedly, early in the morning, late in the evening.”

On Tuesday, Frosh said he had chosen Kaplan Kirsch and Rockwell, a firm that helped Phoenix win in a case similar to that of Maryland’s.

Frosh said the case calls for a particular expertise. “It’s extremely complex and specialized. We need help — which the governor approved — from folks outside of our office.”

The FAA has billed NextGen as a “transformative” technology that streamlines operations and increases efficiency. On its website, the FAA wrote: “NextGen’s state-of-the-art technologies are transforming the nation’s air transportation system, providing greater efficiency for all pilots and passengers and helping protect the environment.”

In September, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called on Frosh to file a lawsuit against the FAA. Hogan wrote that the suit should include routes at BWI Marshall and Reagan National.

After Frosh’s office put out a statement that it would be seeking outside counsel Tuesday, Shereese DeLeaver-Churchill, Hogan’s press secretary, also issued a statement, saying, “the administration expects immediate legal action. Any further delay will only harm countless Maryland citizens who have been needlessly suffering due to these misguided and harmful regulations.”

In April, nine members of the Maryland congressional delegation wrote to the FAA to urge “swift action,” calling on the federal agency to revert to pre-NextGen air traffic patterns.

In May, Hogan also sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, stating measures to mitigate the impact of NextGen were, at that point, “completely unacceptable.”

Hogan added, “I will not have the citizens of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties pay a human cost with their health and emotional well-being.”


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