Keep noise down, efficiency up at Queens airports

By Sharon Pinkerton

The article, “FAA reform bill raises concern from Queens leaders” (Feb. 19) suggests that aircraft noise is the biggest issue affecting New Yorkers. While it is undoubtedly a concern for some, U.S. airlines have made great strides in reducing aircraft noise in recent years. In fact, FAA data demonstrates that the population exposed to significant levels of aircraft noise has dropped 95 percent since the late 1970s, even as enplanements have tripled. We expect this trend to continue as U.S. airlines purchase new, quieter aircraft that are certified to meet the latest international noise standards.

However, our nation’s antiquated air traffic control system and New York’s dubious distinction as America’s leader in aircraft delays should be of concern to us all. Incredibly, New York’s three airports—Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark Liberty—account for nearly half of our nation’s delays. While some delays are caused by Mother Nature, our reliance on WWII-era radar technology keeps planes from flying as directly and efficiently as they otherwise could and is responsible for the three major New York area airports perennial ranking among the top five most delayed airports in the nation.

This reliance on radar instead of satellite-based navigation is costing passengers time and money. Air traffic control delays have become about 15 percent longer at 13 out of 20 of America’s largest hubs despite declining traffic, with JFK having the longest increase at 49 percent. Twenty years ago, a flight from LaGuardia to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport took less than an hour. Today the same flight takes 90 minutes, as airlines have to account for ATC delays.

The good news is that NextGen modernization—which utilizes technology we’re already using on our smartphones and GPS—means more efficient ATC and fewer delays. The FAA reauthorization bill now under consideration would advance NextGen while ensuring that environmental and community protections are maintained and enhanced.

NextGen reduces noise overall and America’s airlines are committed to working with the FAA and all communities near them to hear theirconcerns and find solutions that work for us all.

Sharon Pinkerton

Senior Vice President, Legislative and
Regulatory Policy

Airlines for America

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