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Will It Ever Be Quiet Here?

Airport noise remains a major problem

Recent turbulent weather and high winds in the New York area have presented “a real big challenge” to efforts at noise abatement at Kennedy Airport, said Delta Airlines’ chief pilot and regional director of Northeast flight operations.

Capt. Eric Ohlwiler told a Jan. 28 meeting of Hempstead’s Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) that noise abatement efforts at Kennedy’s Runway Left 22 are “problematic.”

“I’m very well aware of the challenges with the noise abatement here,” Ohlwiler said. “I’ve got an apartment in Howard Beach, and every night when I go to bed all the pictures vibrate off my wall for the three-one left departures, so I definitely get that.” Ohlwiler has been a chief pilot for Delta in New York for three and a half years and has been flying 767 aircraft out of New York for more than six and a half years.

“I know there’s a lot of people here concerned with the 22 complex, Ohlwiler said. “Basically, lately, with the winds and the weather, low visibility, the 22 complex presents a real big challenge for noise in this area,” he said. “[On] low-visibility days, 22 or runway 4 is preferred. Four would be wonderful all the time if we could get that because it comes in over the water and doesn’t bother anybody’s house. Unfortunately with the wind, sometimes that’s not always available.”

Weather conditions are not the only factor playing a role in which runways are utilized. Flights out of Kennedy have to share air space with LaGuardia Airport in northern Queens. He said the Federal Aviation Administration’s air-space re-design program should provide residents with relief from aircraft noise in the future.

TVASNAC Executive Director Kendall Lampkin asked Ohlwiler if he felt airlines were making equitable use of runways. Ohlwiler said runway use is often dictated by weather conditions.

“Is there a disproportionate use of 22 left? I would say no,” Ohlwiler said.

Ohlwiler did, however, cite construction on the Bay Runway, which ceased about a year and a half ago, as cause for increased use of 22 left during that time. Any increased use of 22 left now is weather and wind driven, he said.

The next TVASNAC meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 25, location to be determined.