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Electeds denounce FAA flight plans

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

After a six-month period in which the Federal Aviation Administration tested controversial changes in departure procedures at LaGuardia Airport, one northeast Queens lawmaker said the agency has committed to implementing the plan.

Over the summer, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined with state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and other northeast Queens community leaders to protest what their constituents reported as a deafening sound caused by new plane traffic over their neighborhoods.

In a statement, Avella said the FAA has ignored the lawmakers’ opposition to any uptick in noisy low-flying planes in northeast Queens and intends to move forward with the changes in departure procedures.

“Frankly, it is a disgrace the FAA has decided to go ahead with these departure changes, which will have a profound effect on the residents in northeastern Queens, without the proper input from the community,” Avella said. “My office continues to hear from homeowners who are irate at this abrupt increase in air traffic over their homes, which is causing an intolerable amount of noise pollution.”

Since earlier this year, the agency has been testing out a new satellite navigation system on a departure path that runs over both Whitestone and Bayside, according to one FAA spokesman. As the sounds of planes flying overhead began to disturb homeowners throughout the region, Avella and Braunstein reached out to the FAA and said the agency would solicit public comment before any decisions were made.

But the FAA did not follow through on that promise, they said.

“It is outrageous that the FAA did not notify our community prior to the start of their flight departure testing and that they have approved it without allowing my constituents to voice their concerns,” Braunstein said. “I call on the FAA to suspend the implementation of this new flight pattern, which has brought a constant barrage of plane noise and destroyed the quality of life of the residents of northeast Queens.”

Braunstein said he also reached out to state and federal officials, including U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), to help prevent the new flight plans from becoming permanent.

Cydelle Albertini lives in Bay Terrace and said she and her retired husband were forced to stay indoors over the summer as the unbearable new noise of overhead planes made it nearly impossible to enjoy their terrace.

“What an insult to everyone who has worked hard their entire life only to be subjected to the money-hungry mongers who think they have the right to disturb everyone’s peace and tranquility,” Albertini said. “The FAA and the people who made the decision that has destroyed our neighborhoods should be held accountable.”

Meanwhile, in nearby Kew Gardens Hills, Arnold Gilbert said he and his neighbors had been fighting for the FAA to spread out its flight patterns to areas like Bayside so his community would not carry more of a burden than others.

“All of these years, we have been getting the brunt of every takeoff from LaGuardia,” said Gilbert, who has lived in Kew Gardens Hills for nearly 55 years. “We need to get some relief.”

In protest of the supposed changes coming to northeast Queens, Avella said he would hold a rally against the FAA’s decision outside his Bayside office alongside other community leaders and elected officials, at 38-50 Bell Blvd., Saturday at 11 a.m.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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