By Bill Parry
The Queens congressional delegation has turned up the heat on airline companies on the issue of airplane noise.
U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) introduced legislation last week called the Silent Skies Act, which, if it passes, would require airlines to stock their fleets with quieter aircraft.
“While commercial aircraft can never be truly silent, we can make sure they are less disruptive to the families who live nearby and improve the quality of life in our communities,” Crowley said. “Not just here in Queens but throughout the country.”
The Silent Skies Act will force the Federal Aviation Administration to issue new regulations that will phase in quieter engines at a rate of 25 percent of an airline’s fleet every five years. If Crowley’s bill becomes law, it will provide for grants to encourage research and development of quieter aircraft engines.
“Applying military technology to civilian aircraft is something else we should explore,” Crowley said.
He added that half a million people living under LaGuardia flight paths “are impacted by thunderous noise that ends sleep and distracts students.”
Even more people live around John F. Kennedy International Airport, which is why U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) co-sponsored the bill.
“JFK is an international airport that goes 24 hours a day and our airspace is the most crowded in the nation,” Meeks said. “We should get the noisy planes out of the system. It’s not rocket science.”
“Actually, it is,” chimed in Crowley, to much laughter.
Lawmakers from every corner of the borough came to support the bill at a Friday news conference in LaGuardia’s Marine Air Terminal. Airplane noise is a growing issue since the FAA instituted the NexGen system in October. NexGen employs global-positioning satellites that allow for more frequent takeoffs and landings. A series of town hall meetings have taken place, most recently in Bayside, Maspeth and Jackson Heights.
“Airplane noise continues to ruin the quality of life in Queens,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), another co-sponsor of the bill.
“It’s one of the top issues with our constituents,” state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said. “This bill will force the airlines to be good neighbors. These communities shouldn’t pay the price for their corporate profits.”
Simotas has a personal understanding of the issue because airplane noise scares her 18-month-old baby, a problem shared by City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), the mother of a 12-week-old baby boy named Julian Copeland.
“As a new mom, you’re trying to learn how to lull your child to sleep,” Ferreras said. “And along comes a plane and you have to start all over again. No mother should have to face this. All mothers should be able to put their babies to sleep.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.