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Local News November 14, 2013  RSS feed

THE NOISE WON’T FLY

FAA Hears It From Maspeth Residents
by Max Jaeger


Mark Gill of the Federal Aviation Administration answered Maspeth residents’ questions about airplane noise during a townhall organized by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey last Wednesday, Nov. 6. 
(photo: Max Jaeger) Mark Gill of the Federal Aviation Administration answered Maspeth residents’ questions about airplane noise during a townhall organized by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey last Wednesday, Nov. 6. (photo: Max Jaeger) Maspeth residents complaining of sudden intrusive airplane noise from neighboring LaGuardia Airport (LGA) got a chance to air their grievances with state and federal regulators last Wednesday, Nov. 6 at Maspeth Town Hall.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey organized the event, which brought together residents and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

It was also announced that the FAA and Port Authority would be taking part in a citizens roundtable to support an ongoing discussion about airplane noise.

During the meeting last Wednesday, residents sought an explanation for the sudden increase in airplane traffic over their homes.

FAA spokesperson Mark Gill said “nothing has changed” regarding flight paths over homes.

The airport has been conducting maintenance on LaGuardia’s Runway 31, forcing more pilots to takeoff and land on Runway 22, which directs additional planes over Maspeth, according to Edward Knoesel, manager of aviation environmental programs for the Port Authority.

The Port Authority leases airport land from the city; the FAA regulates take-offs, landings and flight patterns.

Gill stated that airplanes could not travel overhead more than once every 45 seconds, because they take that long to taxi off the runway—a requirement before other planes can land.

Bob Whitehair, a former pilot and member of the advocacy group Queens Quiet Skies said the suggestion that nothing had changed was disingenuous.

New GPS technology guides planes has narrowed the path they take to and from LGA, meaning means more jets are lining up over the same homes as they take off or land.

Whitehair contended that such technology is, itself a change implemented by the FAA that is adversely affecting residents.

For Maspeth residents, there may be a silver lining to GPS-guided planes. Pilot Dave Williams, who spoke during the meeting, said that one common approach when pilots land at LGA requires they line up (by sight) over the Long Island Expressway (LIE). GPS will help pilots fly directly over the LIE rather than over nearby homes when coming in for a landing at LGA, he said.

The Port Authority will reportedly upgrade the four noise monitors that serve LGA. No additional monitors will be employed. Knoesel said more monitors wouldn’t provide higher resolution data about the noise issue but would tell the Port Authority “more of what we already know.”

He explained that noise from LGA does not exceed 85 decibels (dB) and is usually in the 55-60 dB range.

Loud engine noises some residents hear in the morning are the sound of planes testing either engines. Knoesel said tests can be extremely loud, but planes are pointed away from residential areas during testing.

Knoesel explained the FAA fines airlines that exceed decibel limits at John F. Kennedy Airport, but no such fine exists at LaGuardia. Due to federal legislation from the 1990s, such fines are capped at $250 and may not be created or increased.

Resident Ken Rudzewick said the fine had no teeth. “You pay $80 for extra leg room,” he said.

Those affected by airplane noise can file a complaint at www.planenoise.com/panynj/daPRA br9/ or by calling 1-800-225-1071.

City Council Member Daniel Dromm will hold a forum on airplane noise at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 25, at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, locate at 33-34 80th St. FAA and Port Authority representatives said they would be in attendance.