Queens residents keep pressure on officials over airplane noise

By Juan Soto

Borough residents are keeping the fight alive to limit airplane noise, a disturbing sound that increased about three years ago when the Senate passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill.

The legislation allowed for the FAA to switch from its radar traffic control system to satellite control technology.

Queens Quiet Skies, a civic association calling for less aircraft noise in neighborhoods affected by the traffic in and out of JFK and LaGuardia airports, wrote to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Congress in response to the reauthorization bill seeking to testify during the hearings.

“We believe the committee should hear from the communities that are impacted by proposed aviation legislation,” wrote Janet McEneaney, president of Queens Quiet Skies, to U.S. Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

McEneaney noted that although the committee appointed one member to represent all the communities in the country affected by airplane noise, “it is not enough to have the testimony of one person who does not actually come from a community organization.”

The president of Queens Quiet Skies asked both members of Congress to “consider ways to invite comments from community groups impacted by aviation procedures.”

The reauthorization approved by the Senate brings to major airports the so-called NextGen technology. The innovative program brought a new flight pattern into effect allowing more planes to take off and land in at LaGuardia and JFK.

McEneaney wants the FAA administrator, Michael Huerta, to study the possibility of changing NextGen technology in the borough’s airports similar to what was done recently in Phoenix.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Phoenix Mayor Greg Staton recommended changes to the flight paths of air traffic at Sky Harbor International Airport.

They met with Hurta and other FAA officials in January to “discuss serious noise problems cause by the flight path rerouting,” Gallego said.

McEneaney wants to follow that negotiating model. The changes made were part of the NextGen FAA program.

“We are also trying to find a way to go back to the original flight path” at the borough’s airports, she said.

In a CBS News report, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) said that he is not asking for NextGen “to be rolled back. I am not asking for it to be reduced.” The lawmaker, whose district includes Bay Terrace, Douglaston, Little Neck, Bellerose and stretches to parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties, noted, “I am asking the FAA to be sensitive to community concerns and ensure that not one community bears the noise, but that there is a common-sense distribution in the vicinity of airports.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.