Queens congresswoman calls on Port Authority to combat aircraft noise

FAA to begin oversight of LaGuardia flight patterns for noise abatement
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/xlibber

Congresswoman Grace Meng recently announced a new push to reduce excessive aircraft noise in northeast Queens.

In a letter to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Rick Cotton, Meng said that the LaGuardia Airport Draft Noise Compatibility Program introduced by the agency to combat aircraft noise does not go far enough for Queens residents who have been negatively impacted for too long.

The Port Authority proposed a multiyear plan to mitigate the noise in communities that live near the airports, with several noise reduction recommendations that will be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for final consideration in early 2022.

The founding member and co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus called for “additional recommendations” to significantly reduce the noise over Queens and the surrounding region.

“Airplane noise pollution is not merely an annoyance or inconvenience for many of my constituents. While it certainly does affect their property values and comfort, high levels of noise pollution have direct effects on their health as well. Data and studies conducted over decades confirm that noise pollution is a public health problem,” Meng said in her letter.

One of the recommendations put forth by the Port Authority included modifying departure procedures like NTHNS and GLDMAN, which both depart from Runway 13 at LaGuardia Airport and fly south over a large area of Flushing. The agency’s solution involves having airplanes fly south sooner than they currently do so that there is less of a likelihood of flying over populated areas like Flushing.

“I am concerned that the implementation of measures related to Runway 13 would take up to three years. Being within the contours of DNL 65, it is unacceptable to expect Flushing residents to endure those noise levels for any longer, as current airplane noise exposure is negatively impacting their health and wellbeing. While I applaud the improvements to the community that these abatement measures would make in Flushing, I ask that you consider expediting their development process,” the lawmaker said.

In the letter, Meng requested that the following be included in the final version of the Port Authority’s report: Increased flight disbursal utilizing a combination of flight procedures; Noise Abatement Departure Procedure 1 (NADP1) on Runway 13; reduced usage of Runway 13 departures; nighttime optimized profile descent procedures; expansion of the sound insulation of eligible residential units to include residences outside of the DNL 65 contours; include communities exposed to noise levels below DNL 65 in the scope of the study; and air traffic controller noise sensitivity training and management oversight.

“Aircraft noise continues to adversely impact the residents of Queens including my constituents and they need relief,” Congresswoman Meng said. “This persistent noise pollution is not just an annoyance or inconvenience. It has direct effects on their health, harms quality of life and affects property values. Many constituents also report stress and trouble sleeping. We need more solutions to be addressed and I urge the Port Authority to include additional recommendations in this report, in particular the suggestions I specify in my letter. I look forward to receiving a swift response.”

In August, Meng reintroduced the Quiet Communities Act, a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take over efforts to mitigate aircraft noise. This would reopen the agency’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control which previously oversaw the nation’s noise control activities until it was defunded by the Reagan administration in 1981.

With additional reporting by Jenna Bagcal.

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