By Phil Corso
A change in route for some passengers taking off from LaGuardia Airport has become a noisy nuisance for residents in northeast Queens, and area lawmakers said they were trying to see what all the commotion was about. According to a Federal Aviation Administration official, the agency is evaluating the departure path of the Flushing climb, which goes north out of LaGuardia Airport, turning towards the northeast part of the borough.
Lawmakers, including City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), have received several phone calls within the last week from residents in Whitestone, Flushing and Bayside concerned about a sharp increase in air traffic over their homes. In response, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said he would hold a joint press conference with Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) Friday at 11 a.m. outside the senator’s office to address growing concerns and publicly request a meeting with the FAA.
For weeks, residents from Bayside to Flushing have reported an increase in noise pollution caused by low-flying airplanes crossing over the Clearview Expressway. According to an administrator at the FAA, a departure procedure was being tested before a public comment period opens to consider its permanent approval.
Hugie Romerio, of Bayside, said she first noticed the booming sounds of airplanes flying overhead regularly last month, usually between 6 a.m. and noon or 6 p.m. and midnight.
“A lot of people are very upset about this because we do not want this to become a long-term, permanent situation,” Romerio said. “It is the constant noise and air pollution that could end up affecting our property values. Nobody wants that.”
Complaints were being forwarded to the office of U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), who alerted the FAA and said the agency was ultimately responsible for managing its flight plans.
The FAA sent a letter to Avella in June outlining the trial run, adding the departure procedure had airplane traffic turning left to the north off Runway 13 at LaGuardia — a pattern that would not exceed six months. The start date for the trial, however, was not specified.
“The FAA is evaluating a NextGen procedure for flights departing from Runway 13 at LaGuardia Airport. The procedure follows an existing departure path over Queens,” the FAA said in a statement. “The FAA evaluation will identify the potential benefits and impacts of the NextGen procedure. It also will indicate if additional environmental analysis is necessary before the agency decides whether to permanently implement the procedure.”
Braunstein said the public meeting should have been scheduled sooner, after weeks of noise complaints.
“You can’t leave your windows open around here anymore,” Braunstein said. “I want a clear answer right now as to what has changed. We cannot tolerate this.”
Since she first noticed the noise while trying to watch television in her Bayside residence, Romerio said she has been actively soliciting community involvement to get to the bottom of the noise. She said the FAA should have considered public input by making their plans known before changing any flight patterns.
“This has such a direct impact on our neighborhood,” Romerio said. “The public should be aware they are doing this because if they do not pay attention, it will become the new normal.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.