In what may serve as an anticlimactic end to a years-long dispute between metro Denver governments and the Federal Aviation Administration, a federal court has dismissed Centennial Airport’s challenge to the FAA’s plan to reroute airplane traffic in the Mile High City.
“I think frankly the court punted on this — didn’t want to touch this with a 10-foot pole,” Robert Olislagers, the airport’s director, said at a meeting last week of the airport’s board of leaders.
The FAA’s plan to optimize arrival and departure at local airports is called the Denver Metroplex project, and it includes Denver International Airport, Centennial Airport and some other airports.
An FAA environmental-assessment study had looked at impacts the project could have on noise, air quality, wildlife and historic and cultural resources.
It said the proposed change in flight paths was expected to have “no significant impacts” on those aspects of the project’s area, including metro Denver and the Greeley area.
The FAA released an official final word — a “finding of no significant impact” and “record of decision” — which enabled the agency to move forward with the Metroplex project. The decision was announced in January 2020.
The finding meant the FAA determined that a further review, called an environmental impact statement, wasn’t necessary before the plan was put into action, according to the FAA’s website.
Despite the court challenge, the project went into effect as scheduled on March 26, 2020, nearly four years after the FAA put the plan in motion, according to Centennial Airport. Local officials in the south Denver metro area and beyond were hoping to pump the brakes, fearing increased noise and some pilots flying over what Centennial Airport has argued is unsafe territory.