BY NATHAN DUKE
For the past five years, Northeast Queens residents have complained of nonstop excessive airplane noise at all hours over their communities following the introduction of a new flight pattern at LaGuardia Airport. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill including measures that could help to curb the noise.
On Monday, the House passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, which includes several provisions authored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) that are aimed at reducing airplane noise over Queens.
Meng’s provisions include an initiative in which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would partner with private industry to develop aircraft and engine technology that reduces aircraft noise. The provisions also seek to develop alternative jet fuels to reduce fuel emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Meng said that the goal is to have the new technologies introduced to commercial aircraft by 2026.
Last month, Meng and New York’s members of the Quiet Skies Caucus passed a bill that would direct the FAA to continue evaluating metrics to the Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) 65, which is the current national standard at which the agency determines acceptable levels of aircraft noise. The measure passed this week would require the FAA to complete an evaluation within one year.
“The constant barrage of airplane noise over Queens continues to take a toll on residents of the borough and negatively impact the quality of life of my constituents,” Meng said. “Last month’s enactment of our noise metric provision marked important progress in our fight to combat excessive noise, and these three measures would go a long way in helping those efforts as well.”
Queens residents began complaining about the increase in airplane noise in their communities after LaGuardia Airport initiated its “TNNIS 4”—also known as the “Tennis Climb”—flight path from the airport’s Runway 13 in 2012. The new path resulted in a dramatic increase in low-flying planes over such Northeast Queens neighborhoods as Bayside and Flushing.
Warren Schreiber, a co-chairman of the New York Community Aviation Roundtable, which was formed under the directive of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said he thought that the House bill was a “step in the right direction.” He hopes that the FAA would consider lowering its current DNL.
“Many of us across the country have noted that the DNL 65 is not realistic,” he said. “Other countries have lowered it to 55 DNL. This bill directs the FAA to evaluate its metrics because 65 DNL does not work.”
Maria Becce, a member of Queens Quiet Skies—a coalition that was formed to combat airplane noise in the borough—said that she believes the House bill passed this week could finally bring some relief to her community.
“It’s been a total destruction of our quality of life,” said Becce, who lives in Flushing. “I’m directly underneath the Tennis flight pattern. We’ve been clamoring for relief. Whatever noise metrics that are being used don’t work. When you can’t open a window or have a conversation—or when you have to turn up the TV to block out what’s happening outside, there’s something wrong with the measuring metric.”
Becce said that Queens’ elected officials have been attentive to residents’ complaints, and added that she was hopeful of a resolution to the problem.
“I’m not selling my house, and airports aren’t going away,” she said. “We have to make quieter jet engines and planes—and to make the planes fly higher. We simply can’t have a flight pattern that causes this much destruction.”
The FAA bill passed this week would also require major airports to provide designated areas for pets to do their business before boarding a flight and includes a provision to require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to issue a report to Congress on each air carrier’s employee-training policies regarding racial, ethnic and religious nondiscrimination.
The FAA Reauthorization Act passed by a vote of 393-13.