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Flight Patterns Set for Big Changes

FAA: No Increase in Noise Levels

For North Shore Villages 

Residents in Manhasset, Roslyn and other North Shore villages live near two major airports and other, smaller ones. So aircraft noise is often on people’s minds. That issue may heat up again in a year’s time. In 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to implement a major re-routing of its flights from several Long Island airports, including John F.  Kennedy and Farmingdale.

Westbound routes heading towards the Midwest and some southbound routes, namely those in Washington, DC, will be re-routed away from their current over-water patterns to ones that will take flights from the airports over neighborhoods in Suffolk County, Nassau County, New York City, and northern New Jersey.

It was reported that the new routes would take place this spring. However, according to FAA officials, that won’t happen until 2012. What will happen this spring, officials said, is an operation that will combine air-based sectors that are now the responsibilities of the New York center. Certain offices handle air space traffic above 17,000 ft. and others handle it for traffic under that same number. The realignment of airspace management is all part of the FAA’s plan of preparing for the flight traffic patterns changes that are expected to take place in 2012.

“The purpose of the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Airspace Project is to increase the efficiency and reliability of the airspace structure and Air Traffic Control system and reduce delays while maintaining or increasing the safety of the National Airspace System,” the FAA’s website states. “The Selected Project, Integrated Airspace Alternative with Integrated Control Complex with Mitigation, does this by combining high and low altitude airspace to create more efficient arrival and departure routes. For over nine years, we conducted studies and evaluations that cover an area of approximately 31,000 miles, which included five states and 21 airports. This selection offers the most significant operational benefits and anticipates full integration of the airspace by 2012,” the statement concludes.

Noise Level Debate

The New Jersey Coalition Against Aircraft Noise (NJCAAN), a New Jersey-based group that is opposed to the plan, passed information onto Anton Community Newspapers claiming that noise levels will increase in the North Shore, especially in both Manhasset and Roslyn.

However, a spokesman at the FAA’s Queens County office said that a noise level increase would not take place in the North Shore area, including Roslyn, Manhasset and Port Washington. The spokesman said that while designing the airspace changes, the FAA had them analyzed by noise level experts, who affirm that there will be “no new noise” for the North Shore.

In addition to JFK and Farmingdale, MacArthur Airport in Islip will also see air flight changes.

According to published reports, the new patterns have been in the works for decades, with its major goal, one of reducing the airspace between New York and Philadelphia, one that hopes also to both reduce delays and increase arrivals.

In 2009, for instance, up on one-third of all flights from JFK, LaGuardia and Newark International were delayed or cancelled. FAA officials have long noted that the flight patterns coming out of those airports originated in the 1960s and as such, are incapable of dealing with present-day air traffic. The FAA, according to published reports, hopes to increase the number of planes that can take off from area airports, both large and small, by 5.4 percent. It also hopes to increase the number of arrivals by 2.9 percent.

The NJCAAN remains opposed to the plan. Last year, they were joined by numerous municipalities in a lawsuit, one designed to stop the re-routing plans. However, a federal appeals court judge rejected that appeal. The NJCAAN took the legal route due to the fact that FAA flight path designs are not subject to congressional approval.

“In a report dated Oct. 28, 2010 the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector (OIG) concluded that flight delays principally are caused by excess aircraft volume in the metropolitan area,” claimed NJCAAN personnel in a study released to Anton Community Newspapers. “The report also concluded that the FAA should analyze the aircraft volume suggesting that the agency should set aircraft caps at more realistic levels. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any oversight of the FAA’s actions since it will shift additional aircraft volume right over a major metropolitan area with its Airspace Redesign project, which will not resolve the area’s aircraft delay problem caused by excess aircraft volume.”

According to FAA officials, such a noise analysis has already taken place.