Roles and Responsibilities
Lee County Port Authority
The Lee County Port Authority (LCPA) is responsible for the overall operation of Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) and Page Field (FMY). This includes serving as the landlord of its airports, holding leases with airlines, concessionaires and airport-related tenants. While LCPA may regulate airport operational activities, such as engine maintenance run-ups, they do not have authority to control aircraft movement, alter flight patterns and change airspace procedures. LCPA advocates aircraft overflight mitigation practices to reduce flights over areas of concern, but actions of the sort require approval and implementation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the agency of the United States Department of Transportation responsible for the regulation and oversight of civil aviation within the U.S., as well as operation and development of the National Airspace System. Its primary mission is to ensure safety of civil aviation and enforce the rules of air safety.
FAA Air Traffic Control
FAA Air Traffic Control is a division of the FAA primarily responsible for the movement of aircraft both within the airport movement area (taxiways, runways) and in the air. Air transportation affects interstate commerce; therefore, it falls under the regulatory responsibility of the federal government. Runway assignments, headings, altitudes and other directions to pilots are assigned only by FAA Air Traffic Control. FAA Air Traffic Control also has the authority to implement/assign LCPA’s voluntary operational measures for overflight mitigation whenever the possibility exists. The safety of the people in the air and on the ground is always the number one consideration for FAA Air Traffic Control, and the safe operation of aircraft in the national airspace system will always supersede voluntary operational measures for overflight mitigation.
Residents and Prospective Residents
The residents in communities surrounding LCPA airports should seek to understand aircraft operations and strive to be aware of what initiatives can and cannot be taken to minimize the impact of aircraft overflights. Individual and community responses to aircraft overflights differ substantially and, for some individuals, a reduced level of noise may not eliminate the annoyance or irritation. Prospective residents should always investigate the location of LCPA airports and the corresponding aircraft flight patterns/tracks to determine the potential effect on their individual quality of life and make decisions accordingly.
Pilots have the ultimate responsibility for the safe operation of the aircraft. Although each airline can adopt voluntary mitigation procedures and recommended best practices, pilots still retain the operational authority and discretion to make final decisions regarding the safe operation of the aircraft. It is up to the pilot to follow FAA Air Traffic Control directives, which may include assignments to adhere to voluntary operational measures for overflight mitigation. However, in the interest of safety, pilots may deviate from such procedures when necessary. Courteous and responsible pilots make the difference by avoiding unnecessary residential overflights and by flying as quietly as safety permits.