Legislators working to curtail airplane noise in Queens

By Bob Harris

Queens Congress members Grace Meng, Gregory Meeks and Tom Suozzi are working with their colleagues as part of the Quiet Skies Caucus to monitor, study and ameliorate airplane noise over their communities.

They have secured a provision in the latest appropriations bill to examine new ways to measure aircraft noise over Queens and want the FAA to determine the true nature of airplane noise as planes take off from LaGuardia Airport.

My wife Edna and I have been involved in the fight against airplane noise for decades. We attended a meeting held by Congressman Ben Rosenthal years ago. The fight still goes on.

Currently, the FAA has about 50 noise monitors — including one in my backyard — which record takeoff and landing noise day and night around the New York Metropolitan area. There is concern about the impact of airplane noise pollution on the health of those who live under the flight paths of our three metropolitan airports.

Also of concern to residents is the airplane gasoline pollution. People near our airports often report a film of gasoline on their property. There should also be a study about air pollution and the rates of asthma in residents.

Queens now has an aviation roundtable comprised of legislators, community residents, airline representatives and government officials from such groups as the FAA and the Port Authority. The co-chairs of the roundtable are Warren Schreiber, of Bay Terrace, who is also an officer in the Queens Civic Congress and Barbara Brown. Another activist is Quiet Skies President Janet McEneaney.

State Sen. Tony Avella and state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein are fighting to reduce airplane noise by correcting the “Tennis Climb” route, which is a flight pattern which has planes from LaGuardia Airport climb up over populated areas to cut noise over the US Open tennis tournament near Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

They cite a study by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, which says the Tennis Climb route causes serious health problems to people by causing anxiety and cardiovascular disease to people who live beneath it.

The other climb is the Whitestone climb, which directs planes from LaGuardia Airport up and over Whitestone. This flight path goes over my house and drives my wife crazy during the summer. Avella and Braunstein are working to get the state to fund further studies and eventually correct the problem.

Meng is also working to get the U.S. Navy to share research about their attempts to reduce engine noise on their high-performance military jets so commercial jets could also reduce engine noise.

While activists are fighting to reduce air plane noise on the ground other activists are fighting to provide more passenger space in the cabins of our big jets, a group called FlyersRights.org are fighting for more space inside the cabins. With row after row extending down the cabin and with some seats 10 abreast, the plane is very crowded. It is interesting that the FAA requires a plane to be evacuated in 90 seconds an emergency. Good luck with that plan! I have felt squeezed in on some planes and I am not that big a person.

The Flyers Rights group sued the FAA to get them to require airlines to provide more seat room but the FAA says it will not do so. The FAA says that their evacuation plans are workable. People have to continue to complain about cramped conditions on commercial flights.

Bad news of the week:

Regretfully, high hopes for student achievement may not work out because we have so many homeless students. A report by city Comptroller Scott Stringer states that 111,562 New York City students are homeless or living in temporary housing. That’s 10 percent of our students. How do you expect all these students to do well in school? I wonder how many homeless students are in charter schools?

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