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Burien wins key victory in lawsuit over Sea-Tac Airport noise

A plane departs out of Sea-Tac airport. (KIRO Radio/Tim Haeck)

After years of deliberation, debate, and appeals, Burien won a key victory in an ongoing lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration related to noise from planes flying in and out of Sea-Tac Airport.

FAA claims Paine Field won’t pose noise issues, neighbors disagree

The city first began the process of suing the FAA in 2017, citing a route change known as the “Burien Turn,” where planes turn west upon takeoff from Sea-Tac, and cross over the city’s airspace at low elevations. Officials claim roughly 60 to 70 airplanes fly over the city dozens of times a day.

“The impact from this FAA modification is substantial and ongoing,” said the Quiet Skies Coalition, the group that originally filed the lawsuit before Burien took it over.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit ruled on Saturday in favor of a petition filed by Burien, instructing the FAA to “go back to the drawing board and consider the potential cumulative impact of future operations like the Burien Turn.”

That being so, the exact ramifications of that ruling are not immediately clear.

Sea-Tac Airport pushing forward with expansion plans

According to a report from KING 5, lawyers will begin sorting through the decision to figure out next steps. Larry Cripe with the Quiet Skies Coalition noted at a recent council meeting that he expects edits to the “Sustainable Airport Master Plan” could be in order. The master plan — managed by the Port of Seattle — deals in everything from environmental impacts related to flight traffic to community engagement.

“Our hard work is paying off and that our voices are being heard,” Cripe noted.

The Coalition will be releasing a more detailed update sometime in the next few days.

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