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Originally published August 8, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Page modified August 9, 2012 at 6:14 AM

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FAA seeks input on new system for jet approaches to Sea-Tac

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday began inviting the public's comments on its "Greener Skies over Seattle" project, which will shift the flight patterns for jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is inviting the public's comments on its "Greener Skies over Seattle" project, which would shift the flight patterns for jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The project, currently in flight trials, will introduce satellite-guided technology, allowing precision approaches as jets that are equipped with the necessary avionics come in to land.

If the system receives final approval, it would initially be used by two of Sea-Tac's busiest carriers, Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Flying along invisible but precise pathways, jets would smoothly descend with engines at idle until near the runway, saving fuel and reducing emissions.

The new technology also would bring significant changes to flight patterns for planes arriving from the southwest and northwest.

Jets arriving from the south, if they needed to bypass the airport and turn for a landing toward the south, would turn over Elliott Bay and the industrial area south of Harbor Island instead of over North Seattle residential areas.

Another change to an arrival procedure would mean that some jets, instead of overflying northern portions of Kitsap County as now, would approach the runways from over Hansville and Puget Sound south of Island County.

And for jets arriving from the southwest, a significant "dog leg" to the west over Olympia would be replaced by more direct routings generally over Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Before the system is approved, the National Environmental Policy Act requires an assessment of the environmental impact of the changes to flight patterns, including how they would affect noise levels for residents on the ground beneath the flight paths.

Two public meetings have been scheduled to allow interested agencies, groups and individuals to review and comment on a draft environmental assessment. The first is on Sept. 5, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Federal Way Library; the second will be held the following evening at the same time in the Ballard branch library.

Further details, including the full draft of the environmental assessment and information on how to send comments by email and by regular mail, are available online at www.greenerskiesea.com. Written comments will be accepted by the FAA until Sept. 14.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

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