By Madina Toure
Two members of Congress’ Quiet Skies Caucus from Queens say they are disappointed that a short-term Federal Aviation Administration bill passed by the House does not include aircraft noise provisions.
On March 14, the House approved the Airport and Airway Extension Act, which extends the operating authority of the FAA through mid-Jul, according to U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), one of the caucus members. The FAA’s current operating authority expires on March 31 and the last short-term extension began on Oct. 1, 2015.
Since 2012, the amount of airplane noise over Queens has increased substantially due to the FAA’s use of new flight patterns over the borough, Meng said, noting that this is the second time in five months that the House has passed a short-term measure without anti-noise provisions.
“Relief can’t come soon enough for Queens residents,” Meng said. “Something must be done to mitigate the barrage of airplane noise over our communities.”
This past summer, Meng and the two other members of the caucus, U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville), sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the Transportation Committee chairman, and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member, calling for noise mitigation to be included in the FAA bill.
One recommendation was a community engagement process—including pre-decision public hearings—for new flight paths or procedures or changes to existing flight paths and procedures.
Another mandates that the FAA use other noise metrics when evaluating the effect of aviation noise and reduce the acceptable noise threshold for homes and businesses in the flight paths.
Other recommendations include clarifying that airport operators are legally allowed to carry out and should strongly consider noise relief options in communities that experience aircraft noise levels below the current threshold, enabling the FAA to short-circuit the environmental review process when implementing new flight paths and requiring independent research on the health effects of aviation noise.
Crowley said the flying public deserves a long-term, full reauthorization package that both stabilizes the FAA and addresses noise pollution.
“For too long, the surrounding communities of our airports have had to endure the deafening roar of airplanes and the toll it’s taken on them is reflected in the deterioration of their health and quality of life,” Crowley said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour