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Frustration Mounts At Latest TVASNAC Meeting

Residents rail at overuse of Runway 22L

On Monday, October 22, the Town-Village Aircraft Safety & Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) held its most recent meeting at East Williston’s village hall. With the primary topic for that evening’s meeting revolving around the excessive use Runway 22L in and out of JFK Airport, the FAA was represented by New York Terminal District Manager Jeffrey Clarke, public affairs specialist Jim Peter, Claude Vieira from JFK operations control and Robert Jaffe, an aviation safety inspector for the Eastern Region who also happens to be a licensed pilot. Although FAA regional administrator Carmine Gallo was slated to appear, he wound up being a no-show. Given the fact that there have been prior instances of representatives from different agencies failing to show up despite making commitments to the contrary, it wasn’t surprising that the concerned citizens who filled up this meeting started grumbling about yet another federal official blowing off another meeting.

“We were supposed to have Carmine Gallo here. He is the regional administrator for the entire Eastern seaboard and the buck stops at his desk basically,” explained East Williston representative Ray Gaudio before adding with disdain, “He almost has to pass this village to go home to Wantagh and he’s not at this meeting and that’s disgraceful.”

Statistics of excessive usage were bandied about with Floral Park Village Trustee Mary Grace Tomecki citing the Instrument Landing System (ILS) was used for 47 hours straight on Runway 22L from Aug. 10 to 11. Gaudio added, “There are four runways at JFK that can land and take off at each end. In a perfect world, we’d be getting 12.5 percent of the traffic. It’s not a perfect world. [From] Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 [there were] 56 consecutive hours on one runway. The reason, or I’ll say excuses that they use can be classified by three reasons: weather, runway availability and operational efficiency, which is a nice way of saying as many planes as they can cram into JFK, they will do it. That’s the definition of operational efficiency.”

As random attendees shouted out for the representatives to tell the truth, Clarke responded, “I can tell you emphatically that nothing is placed in front of safety. We have the most safe and efficient air traffic system in the world.”

Valley Stream representative Virginia Clavin Higgins also pointed out the heavy usage of Runway 22L based on the statistics provided by her fellow committee members. She questioned, “Knowing that this happens…when you go to equitable distribution, how do you make it up to these people? The equitable distribution what would seem to be a plan where these people get relief at another time and that is not what I’ve heard. How do you make it up to them that there are weekends like that?”

While Clarke admitted not having a magic answer and also being a fellow local resident who’s been impacted by the planes, it was Jaffe who provided the rationale for using the ILS for such a long duration.

“I can only speak from the standpoint of my background, which is an airline pilot and aviation safety inspector. If you’re using an ILS, it’s because you have to. Period. It’s based on a combination of weather conditions and the capability of the airport and the aircraft coming in down that time frame,” he said. “There are so many variables. Pilots love ILS because it is the most straightforward, simple approach to use, you don’t require any special equipment in the aircraft and you always know your height above the ground. It’s an approach that’s been used for a very long time. If they’re using the ILS for that long, it’s because they had to.”

The next TVASNAC meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 26 at a yet to be determined location.