The air noise pollution problem around Sedona airport is complicated by ownership issues. Despite being surrounded by the City of Sedona land zoned as Community Facilities, the airport itself is owned by Yavapai County. All revenue from the airport accrues to Yavapai County coffers. Further complicating the structure are FAA bureaucrats who Congress appoints to regulate the behavior of all aircraft after they have left the runway. There is an existing legal precedent that allowed Sedona to impose regulations regarding ground-level noise from the airport. However, Yavapai County, which has no noise restrictions, is currently resisting any further attempts by Sedona to provide input regarding commercial expansion inside the airport boundary.
As Sedona became a more popular tourist destination, low flying helicopter tours became a major nuisance over many Sedona neighborhoods and cultural heritage sites. Over several months, local, county, and federal officials as well as KSB and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce sat at the table with managers and pilots from the tourist helicopter companies to hammer out a voluntary agreement designed to minimize the air noise disruptions. That agreement subsequently became known as the Fly Friendly agreement.
The Fly Friendly voluntary agreement is an arrangement to circumvent all the competing political interests with a unifying document agreed to by all the stakeholders.
Despite being voluntary, the agreement has made a meaningful contribution to reducing air noise pollution even though it is limited to tourist helicopter charter flights departing from the Sedona airport. Currently, there is no similar arrangement between the stakeholders and private or commercial pilots flying fixed-wing aircraft.
Learn more about the history of the Fly Friendly voluntary agreement with the helicopter tour operators.