Bayside eyes FAA advisory committee

By Phil Corso

Bayside-based Queens Quiet Skies has an independent advisory committee on its radar as the group’s activists continue to speak up about airplane noise over northeast Queens.

A private, nonprofit known as the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics established the NextGen Advisory Committee in September 2010 to provide recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration related to its pending changes in flight procedures. The 28-member group was made up mostly of FAA employees, labor union representatives, airport operators and others from the airline industry.

But Janet McEneaney, founder of Queens Quiet Skies, said there was one key spot for a community member missing on the committee that would ideally represent those most closely affected by any procedural changes.

“There happens to be no public accountability,” she said. “This is an area that has become so murky. Nobody has really shined a light on it.”

McEneaney penned a letter to the RTCA in June, asking President Margaret Jenny how the committee’s members are chosen and what qualifications were needed to sign on. In her letter, McEneaney cited the Federal Advisory Committee Membership Balance Plan, which is required by a federal statute so advisory committees are fairly balanced and represent all relevant points of view.

She heard back from the group months later, but only in the form of an organizational brochure reiterating the core goals of the organization.

“She must think we are a kindergarten class instead of U.S. taxpayers,” McEneaney said.

The RTCA did not return requests for comment.

Since the group’s inception last year, Queens Quiet Skies has set out to achieve four specific goals: getting the Port Authority to conduct a noise compatibility study for the major metropolitan airports, have the FAA complete an environmental review of procedural changes, require more noise monitors at LaGuardia Airport and establish an aviation roundtable with the FAA for the northeast.

What started as a tiny group of Bayside activists meeting at their local diner has since snowballed into a boroughwide call to arms with hundreds of members coming from all corners of Queens.

The movement was sparked late last year when airplane noise over northeast Queens became the talk of the neighborhood with residents reporting a noticeable increase in airliners rumbling outside the walls of their homes. The root of the problem pertained to the FAA’s implementation of NextGen technology, which allowed for a more precise path its planes can take going into and out of LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.

Bob Whitehair, vice president of Queens Quiet Skies, has called on his extensive experience as a former airport manager to demand the FAA end its policy of shutting out the community when implementing flight changes.

“There are 85 written flight procedures at JFK and LaGuardia,” he said. “We have been bothered by just one. The FAA has to redirect the focus of the noise.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.

More from Around New York