BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
As community members continue to voice their concerns against airplane noise, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), along with many local and State officials from Queens and Nassau County, joined civic organizations and community organizations to announce the introduction of the Silent Skies Act.
On Dec. 6 at LaGuardia Airport, Crowley said the legislation aims to improve the quality of life for those who live near LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports because far too many communities are impacted by the constant engine noise, which disrupts student learning, poses certain health risks and most of all, it drowns the joys of daily life.
“Airports can never be perfect neighbors, but we can take steps to make them better neighbors,” Crowley said.
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) said New Yorkers should not have to worry about the constant interruptions of airplanes flying over head.
“We’ve made significant strides by getting the Port Authority to create an Airport Advisory Committee to address this issue and by pushing for more noise monitors to measure the noise level, but it’s not enough,” he said.
Residents of western and northeastern Queens hear an increase in airplane noise because of the weekend construction that takes place on the runways at LaGuardia Airport and the new flight patterns instituted by the Federal Aviation Administration, called NextGen.
“Recent changes in flight procedures have caused constant, intolerable noise in wide areas of our New York/New Jersey metro area,” Janet McEneaney, president of the group Queens Quiet Skies, said.
“For too long, the interests of residents here were not considered when aviation procedures were planned,” McEneaney said. “With this proposed legislation, Rep. Crowley is telling members of the airline industry that we expect them to take their share of responsibility to fix the problems caused by those new flight procedures.”
While commercial aircraft can never be truly silent, Crowley said it can be less disruptive for the families living nearby, by requiring airlines to begin stocking their fleets with newer and quieter aircraft that operate on lower decibel levels by the end of 2015.
The act, if passed, will require the FAA to issue new regulations to phase in the quieter engines at a rate of 25 percent of an airline’s fleet every five years, so that 100 percent of commercial airplanes meet these quieter standards by 2035, at the latest.
Since there is no stream of federal funding dedicated specifically to the development of quieter engines, the act authorizes a new partnership program between private and public entities that would provide grants for the development of new technologies to help meet better standards.
Rose Marie Poveromo, a long-time member of Community Board 1 and the President of the United Community Civic Association, said it is not easy to live a heartbeat away from a runway.
She said she hopes that many of the older planes will be phased out by 2015.
“It would be nice to sit outside and barbecue, and not have fumes falling over your head or sit there and feel each plane that takes off, pounding your chest,” she said.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said we do have the technology to make public planes quieter because the U.S. uses it for military and civilian planes.
“We need to ensure that if it is good enough for the United States of America to use privately, it can be good enough for the people of the country,” Peralta said.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said New York air space is probably the most crowded air space in the nation.
“By making our communities more livable, the Silent Skies Act paves the way for increased and diversified economic investment,” Meeks said.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.