Tag Archives: FAA

Court rules in favor of waste transfer station


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

They lost their bid to block the birds.

The Friends of LaGuardia Airport could not prevent a waste transfer facility, which will bring flocks of seagulls near the airport, from being built.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday, April 9 on jurisdictional grounds rather than on the merits of the case, said Ken Paskar, president of Friends of LaGuardia.

“I’m concerned that [the] decision would have people believe that the court ruled on the merits and interpret that to mean that the transfer station is safe,” said Paskar.

The North Shore Marine Transfer station is under construction in College Point and is expected to be completed later this year. The waste transfer station is located approximately 2,206 feet away from one of the major runways at LaGuardia.

With the station expected to handle 3,500 tons of residential garbage daily, Paskar believes the station will become a “bird magnet” for seagulls looking for food, and will lead to an increase in the danger of gull strikes in the air.

Even with the court’s decision, Paskar is looking to follow other legal options, including filing a motion for re-consideration on the court.

“Friends of LaGuardia must continue its fight to protect the traveling public from the risks of bird strikes in and out of LaGuardia Airport and the greater NY Metro area because the FAA, Port Authority and the City of New York are clearly not,” said Paskar. “It’s a long shot. We’re asking the court to look at their own decision and be consistent.”

The FAA did not respond as of press time.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Despite relief, plane noise may still plague northeast Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Northeast Queens residents may get a respite from the plane noise that tormented them last summer — but not full relief.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials said there would be fewer planes flying over portions of Bayside and Flushing. But, depending on traffic and wind, there could be times residents could hear the same turbulence they heard in summer 2012, officials confirmed.

“What you experienced last summer was an anomaly,” said Carmine Gallo, the FAA’s eastern regional administrator. “The number of airplanes you saw last summer was to collect data. That’s not going to happen this summer.”

A six-month trial period called the “TNNIS Climb” caused a barrage of low-flying airplanes to soar over parts of northeast Queens last summer by the minute each day from 6 a.m. to noon and then again from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The FAA said the test was to ensure the required three mile separation between John F. Kennedy International Airport arrivals and LaGuardia Runway 13 departures while using a new, precise navigation system.

The procedure was approved last December, but FAA officials said the route would be put to limited use. Air traffic would be spread out between other climbs, they said at a March 14 town hall meeting, where residents and elected officials urged the federal agency to reverse its decision.

“If the route doesn’t go back to the old way, the FAA is in for the fight of its life,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We’re not going to let this affect our quality of life.”

Gallo said the agency’s goal was to ensure the “safe, efficient, secure operation of aircraft.”

He said the FAA makes no profit off airlines or the newly approved procedure, despite accusations by some, including Assemblymember Ed Braunstein.
“We shouldn’t be forced out of our backyards so the airline industry can make more money,” Braunstein said.

Residents also asked if the agency could move routes over waterways and parks instead of residential neighborhoods.

The suggestion “would be nice,” said Ralph Tamburro, the agency’s New York traffic management officer. But it would ultimately be “an impossible task.”

“With the amount of airplanes, you can’t do it,” he said.

The FAA agreed to involve the community in future decisions and to continue hearing them out.

“You’ve caused disruption to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Pilot spots drone near JFK


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Look up in the air! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…a drone?

An Alitalia pilot reported sighting a drone near his jumbo jet Monday afternoon has he neared JFK Airport, according to news sources. Now federal agents are investigating who the drone belonged to, and what it was doing just about three miles from the airport.

While the reported mini-aircraft did not come too close to the plane, or cause any damage, other pilots nearing the airport were warned, it was reported.

“We saw a drone,” the pilot told the control tower. “A drone aircraft.”

It has not been confirmed if the drone belongs to the military or a hobbyist, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not taking the siting lightly. FAA and FBI agents are investigating the source of the one-meter aircraft.

Personal drone owners are capped off at flying their aircraft at 400 feet, according to The LA Times. The Alitalia pilot, however, reported seeing the drone at about 1,500 feet.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens’ Morning


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 43. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the West in the afternoon. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 37. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Much Ado About Nothing

On opening night of Much Ado About Nothing at The Secret Theatre in LIC, patrons receive chocolates, a rose and two glasses of pink bubbly in a two-for-$30 deal. Show runs from February 14 to March 2. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Bloomberg to propose more electric  car parking, Styrofoam ban

On the eve of his State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a new ban in store, as well as a parking proposal that might drive some New Yorkers crazy. Read more: CBS New York

NYS audit finds MTA is sitting on $90M

A New York State audit finds that the MTA overlooked over $90 million sitting in various bank accounts. Read more: Fox New York

Queens officials request meeting with FAA to discuss noise created by new flight patterns

Queens elected officials are urging the FAA to redesign flight patterns to curb aircraft noise around its two airports. Read more: New York Daily News

Rebuilt Rockaway beaches need more than a big dose of sand, locals say

There’s a whole lot of sand coming to storm-ravaged Rockaway Beach this year, but locals are worried it’s not enough to stave off another attack from Mother Nature. Read more: New York Daily News

DOE to allow students to transfer out of public schools getting phased out

Department Of Education officials announced Wednesday that they will allow families to transfer their children out of 61 public schools deemed by city officials to be failing. Read more: NY1

American Airlines, US Airways announce $11 billion merger

American Airlines and US Airways say they’re merging in a deal they value at $11 billion, creating the world’s biggest airline. Read more: ABC New York

 

LI man arrested for pointing laser at plane heading to JFK


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

A Long Island man was arrested Wednesday for pointing a laser beam at two aircraft this summer, risking the lives of passengers and potentially people on the ground, said the FBI.

According to court records, on August 21, Angel Rivas, of Shirley, directed a laser pointer at a plane headed to John F. Kennedy International Airport and a Suffolk County Police Department helicopter that was sent to investigate the incident.

Rivas was released on $10,000 bond, according to media reports, after his arraignment in front of United States Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay in a U.S. State Courthouse in Central Islip on January 23.

“Pointing a laser at an aircraft is not a prank,” Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI said in a press release. “It is a federal crime with penalties befitting its seriousness.”

In February of 2012, President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which explicitly prohibited pointing lasers at aircraft.

If convicted, Rivas faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a maximum fine of $250,000.

 

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Rumblings over JFK runway expansion continue


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seem to be full-speed ahead on a plan to extend a runway at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport, stirring ire and confusion among those who live nearby.

“The FAA spoke as if they’re going to go through with this plan,” said Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance (EQA) after a community meeting with the flight organization on Tuesday, December 11.

The plan, proposed earlier this year, would cost nearly $500 million and will extend one of the four JFK runways by 728 feet to the north, closer to nearby residents. It also involves widening the runway by roughly 200 feet. This will allow for larger aircraft carrying more passengers, according to Port Authority officials. They also said JFK could significantly reduce flight delays.

The southeast communities of Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale already have planes flying very low overhead, seemingly skimming the tops of houses, and creating noise pollution throughout the area.

“It’s killing our neighborhood,” said Brown. “And it seems like the planes are flying lower. You can almost reach out and touch them.”

Robert Jaffe of the FAA countered this claim, saying that all altitude regulations for planes are ensured so pilots can have a safe landing, and that from the ground, it is difficult to accurately determine just how high an airplane is in the sky.

Mark Guiod, manager of New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), was also present at the meeting, and explained flight patterns for the five major New York airports to residents.

“We can only land and depart so many planes in one hour,” he said. “And we have to meet the demand that is given to us at any given hour.” Guiod said that TRACON must direct each flight to a particular runway, and that runway is chosen based on availability, wind, weather, operational efficiency and noise considerations.

Despite the informative presentation given by the FAA, residents were still extremely displeased, because no answer was given as to what is going to be done about the excessive noise.

“You have done an excellent job in describing what is good for the nation,” said Councilmember James Sanders. “But you have done a remarkably poor job at describing what is good for this community.”

FAA representatives did, however, suggest that within the coming years, aircraft will get quieter, and noisy engines will disappear by “natural selection.”

After the initial meeting describing the runway expansion proposal on Thursday, October 4, Brown and the EQA drafted a 19-page document with questions and concerns for the Port Authority and the FAA. They have not heard anything, nor has anyone else from the community that submitted similar letters.

There is a coming final draft proposal, which will be followed by a comment period in which the community can pose more questions and concerns, and Brown and the EQA plan to be very active during this period.

If approved, the runway extension will add $150 million in wages and $707 million in economic activity.

FAA approves controversial airplane route


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A controversial airplane route that polluted the skies with noise during its trial run has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The “TNNIS Climb” — in which departing LaGuardia Airport traffic turns left to the north off Runway 13 — has been given the green light for takeoff, FAA officials said, even after borough leaders and residents said the changes caused a nonstop barrage of low-flying planes to torment their northeast Queens neighborhoods.

“Frankly, it is a disgrace the FAA has decided to go ahead with these departure changes, which will have a profound effect on the residents in northeastern Queens, without the proper input from the community,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “In this case, the FAA has decided to disregard the voice of the people.”

Borough Board members lambasted FAA officials in September, when they said they were not given notice about the six-month trial period that concluded in August.

The test was to ensure the required separation between John F. Kennedy International Airport arrivals and LaGuardia Runway 13 departures while using a new, precise navigation system called “RNAV,” said Ralph Tamburro, the agency’s New York traffic management officer.

Local leaders and residents said the FAA ignored public comment when it made the route permanent at the end of November.

“If they choose to make this permanent, that means I’ll have to move,” said Flushing resident Priscilla Tai. “I can’t survive with this. I need to work and I need quality sleep.”

An air traffic official said the FAA is “working to determine the best way to implement the use of this procedure with these other runway configurations.”

“Our primary mission is to endure the safe and efficient use of our nation’s navigable airspace,” said Elizabeth Ray, vice president of Mission Support Services, in a November letter. “Despite our best attempts, we acknowledge it is impossible to reduce noise levels in every area.”

Residents up in arms over JFK runway expansion


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

John F. Kennedy International Airport has some angry neighbors to the north, thanks to a proposed plan by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to extend a runway closer to a nearby residential community.

“Our question is, how big is big enough?” asked Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance, of the potential 728-foot runway expansion. At a public hearing on Thursday, October 4, hundreds of southeast Queens residents gathered in St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Springfield Gardens to voice their opposition to the Port Authority’s plan.

“This is airport sprawl,” said Brown,as planes could be heard soaring overhead.

The Port Authority, under Federal Aviation Association (FAA) guidelines, wishes to widen JFK runway 4L/22R by roughly 200 feet, and expand it to the north. This change will allow the runway to accommodate larger aircraft carrying more passengers, according to Port Authority officials. Also, officials said, JFK would potentially experience a significant reduction in flight delays.

However, Queens residents are concerned with the noise and air pollution they expect the expansion to bring, mainly to the Springfield Gardens community.

“There will be a significant impact,” said Brown. “The Port Authority slipped up, they didn’t do their diligence.”

Brown and the Eastern Queens Alliance also accused the Port Authority of not making the local community aware of the proposed change, instead warning the residents in Nassau County.

The agency advertised its $500 million plan in Newsday last spring, and allowed the Long Island community to voice its concerns, which will be considered by the FAA. However, those closest to the airport were unaware of the situation until much later, they claim.

Brian Simon, director of government relations for the Port Authority, attended Thursday’s meeting.

“I thank [Brown] for keeping us honest,” he said. “Sometimes in government, we are not perfect. We can do better.”

Simon stated they are mandated by the federal government to create this project, and noted the large economic output that could result from the expansion.

“[JFK is] an economic engine that serves this community,” he said, citing the jobs that the international airport creates.

Port Authority environment officials have also done an analysis of the area, as well as tests regarding noise pollution. Studies found that the expansion would only raise the noise level by 0.7 decibels, an amount nearly undetectable by the human ear. Thus, officials claim there would be no significant impact.

Residents responded by “boos” and shouts, not won over by the Port Authority’s arguments.

“We are open to all comments,” said Simon, who encouraged residents to contact him after the meeting with their concerns.

The local community now has until November 1 to file complaints with the Port Authority, which will be considered by the FAA and put into the plan’s final proposal.

If approved, the expansion will be complete by late 2014.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of rain, then rain in the afternoon. High of 73. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Tuesday night: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain after midnight. Fog overnight. Low of 64. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT of the DAY: An Evening with Don Francisco, Celebrating 50 Years of Sábado Gigante

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with Don Francisco —a.k.a. Mario Kreutzberger. In a rare New York appearance, the variety show host will participate in an intimate discussion with a special guest moderator and show a selection of unforgettable clips from his Saturday night show’s 50-year history presented by Univisión. Sábado Gigante is the longest-running variety show in television history, and Don Francisco has been there from the beginning, hosting more than 2,600 episodes. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Girl struck by stray bullet while doing homework returns home for rally

A Queens community is saying enough is enough to gun violence after a teenager was shot while doing homework. Read more: CBS New  York

College student starts petition for Metro-North stop in Queens

A college student from Queens has launched a petition urging the MTA to open a Metro-North station in Queens. Quinnipiac University sophomore Ali Fadil, 18, of Whitestone, began collecting signatures about two weeks ago after he learned the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was looking at running trains on Metro-North’s New Haven line through western Queens. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens men get 6 1/2 years for role in fatal 2010 stabbing

Two Queens men were thrown in prison today for their role in the death of a good Samaritan who came to the aid of a transgender man the pair were bothering. Read more: New York Post

Second American Airlines flight returns to JFK after row of seats comes loose

Planes have been grounded and the feds are now investigating American Airlines. The Federal Aviation Administration is probing two separate instances of rows of airplane seats dislodging in mid-air. Read more: CBS New York

New Brooklyn arena serves as a test: Will fans accept smaller sodas?

At the amenity-laden Barclays Center in Brooklyn, hungry concertgoers can dine on fresh-from-Maine lobster rolls, gourmet barbecue brisket and slices of cheesecake from Junior’s on nearby Flatbush Avenue. Read more: New York Times

Candidates prep for debates; No. 2s campaign

The presidential candidates are leaving the heavy lifting of campaigning to their running mates Tuesday as they spend one more day preparing for their first debate, scheduled for Wednesday night. Read more: ABC New York/AP

 

FAA says it should have notified residents of increased plane noise


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Borough leaders lambasted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after they said a concluded trial period testing a new departure procedure at LaGuardia Airport took off and landed without proper community notice.

“This is the borough board … This is where you start. You don’t end up here. I don’t think you’re in touch,” said Borough President Helen Marshall to invited government air traffic control representatives at a September 10 board meeting. “I don’t understand why you didn’t let us know about this a long time ago.”

Residents from Bayside and downtown Flushing say they had been tormented since mid-June by the ear-splitting roar of low-flying airplanes they say soared past their homes by the minute each day from 6 a.m. to noon and then again from 6 p.m. to midnight.

They joined a borough-wide chorus of homeowners, some in Briarwood and Woodside, who say they were also blighted by the thundering turbulence.

“This seems like something very unfair to do to this borough,” Marshall said. “We have to consider the people.”

FAA officials said the agency has finished with a six-month trial — called the “Tennis Climb” — to test a departure procedure at LaGuardia Airport, in which departing traffic turns left to the north off Runway 13.

The Tennis Climb trial — which began February 13 and came to a close August 13 — was to ensure the required separation between John F. Kennedy International Airport arrivals and LaGuardia Runway 13 departures while using a new, precise navigation system called “RNAV,” said Ralph Tamburro, the agency’s New York traffic management officer.

The separation, Tamburro said, was successfully ensured during the trial run, but the project is now currently being analyzed by the FAA’s environmental office. The FAA said they would take in public comment before making the new route permanent.

While Tamburro touted the agency’s findings during the six-month test period, which included avoiding about 2,635 aircraft delays at JFK, borough board members accused the FAA of using the Queens communities as “guinea pigs.”

“We are very sensitive in this borough,” said Community Board 10 Chair Betty Braton. “In our homes and on our streets, we know where there are changes made. Notifying us of a test allows us to notify the people.”

Councilmember Daniel Dromm chastised the agency for its after-the-fact reporting to the board.

“You’re telling us now that this has already been happening — for what purpose?” he asked.

According to Tamburro, additional environmental studies for the pilot program were not required because it was modeled after an existing and increasingly outdated procedure called the “Flushing Climb,” which is utilized during the U.S. Open but does not involve the use of RNAV systems.

“We probably should have done a better job in notifying people even though there was no requirement to do so,” said Jeffrey Clarke, the FAA’s New York district office manager. “So I consider that a lesson learned as we go forth from here.”

Clarke also said the agency is in the process of making the transition to a new era of flight called “NextGen,” which upgrades airports to satellite-based technology that lets pilots know the precise locations of other airplanes around them.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 79. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 66. Winds less than 5 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Showcase Wednesday 

Come to Resorts World Casino New York City to watch Crossing Midnight. The first time they were on the Resorts World Casino Bar 360 Stage, they rocked the house. This time around, this soulful group will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

FAA’s stealth pilot program involving LaGuardia and JFK Airports was just plain wrong, locals say

A federal pilot program came in for a rough landing after local leaders were told it began and ended without them knowing. Read more: New York Daily News

Cops pack Queens courtroom to watch alleged cop shooter John Thomas’ arraignment

Police officers packed a Queens courtroom this morning to watch the arraignment of an accused trigger-happy cop shooter. Read more: New York Post

Rockaways residents glad to see sand moved from ‘fornication hill’ to Beach 90th Street

You could say one person’s nuisance is another person’s newly refined beach — at least in the Rockaways. Huge dump trucks started have moved 7,000 cubic yards of sand from Beach 121st Street to Beach 90th Street. Read more: CBS New York

 A Hooters in Queens is sued for racial discrimination

Hooters, the restaurant chain widely known for the skimpy outfits of its waitresses, has built its reputation in part on its fun-loving and mildly provocative spirit. But a Korean-American customer has accused a Hooters restaurant in Queens of taking that carefree ethos too far and has sued the company for racial discrimination. Read more: New York Times

Former Rudy Giuliani aide Juan Reyes sends mailing blasting primary opponent, Councilman Eric Ulrich, for having dinner with gay friends

Two GOP primaries for the state Senate — including a hotly contested race in Queens — have sunk into the gutter with gay-baiting tactics.Read more: New York Daily News

U.S. ambassador to Libya killed in Benghazi attack

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on their car, a Libyan official said, as they were rushed from a consular building stormed by militants denouncing a U.S.-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad. Read more: Reuters 

New flight patterns a failure: residents, pols


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

The trial period testing a new departure procedure at LaGuardia Airport has failed, said local leaders who recently rallied to put an end to the thundering turbulence tormenting residents in northeast Queens.

“New flight patterns cannot be instituted if they are so detrimental to the quality of life for residents,” said State Senator Tony Avella during an August 24 rally.

Residents from Bayside and downtown Flushing say they have been tortured since mid-June by the ear-splitting roar of low-flying airplanes they say soar past their homes by the minute each day from 6 a.m. to noon and then again from 6 p.m. to midnight.

They join a borough-wide chorus of homeowners who say they are blighted by the deafening noise caused by a nonstop rush of aircraft flights and a barrage of low flying planes.

A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the agency was evaluating a “NextGen” procedure for flights departing from Runway 13 at LaGuardia Airport.

“The FAA evaluation will identify the potential benefits and impacts of the NextGen procedure. It also will indicate if additional environmental analysis is necessary before the agency decides whether to permanently implement the procedure,” the spokesperson said.

In a June 22 letter sent to Avella, FAA officials said the procedure — which follows an existing departure path over Queens — is part of a six-month trial, although they would not specify how many months were left in the testing.

“It is outrageous that our community was not notified prior to the start of the FAA’s flight departure testing and that we have still not been informed of its end date,” said Assemblymember Ed Braunstein. “It is clear […] that this testing has been a failure and we call on the FAA to conclude it as soon as possible.”

Fowl Strikes Cause Foul Feelings


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Recent collisions between birds and airplanes departing city airports could give a much-needed “all clear” for negotiations between the Port Authority and wildlife conservation groups.

While recent uproar mainly surrounds possible runway expansion plans at JFK, in-flight crashes with birds came under scrutiny when a Los Angeles-bound flight was quickly grounded after a bird was sucked into its engine shortly after taking off on Thursday, April 19.

Tarmac expansion came under fire when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced its proposal to extend the airport’s runway, expected to cover a significant portion of the Jamaica Bay area, in February, 2011. The 400-acre area of land, including wetlands and shoreline, was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area by the National Parks System in 1972.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder believes conservationists attempting to protect the birds and those trying to ensure the safety of plane passengers need to collaborate.

While preserving Jamaica Bay has long since been a priority on Goldfeder’s platform, he proclaims he is not for working against the airports, adding that there is always a balance to be found.

Goldfeder also noted that many people believe the birds striking the planes are not the same birds nesting in the Jamaica Bay area.

A source close to the situation suggested increasing traffic out of the city’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, is a better solution than filling in Jamaica Bay.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, claimed that the agency’s wildlife control protocol is above and beyond Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, insisting they are among the industry’s most effective.

“Our wildlife biologists and staff efforts to minimize threats to aircraft include reducing nesting areas, removing standing water and eliminating food sources,” said Coleman. “We also use pyrotechnics to disperse birds. We believe those efforts are effective since the number of incidents at JFK resulting in aircraft damage has remained about the same since 2008.”

Dan Mundy, president and founder of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, believes the recent increase in collisions Mundy mentioned the famed incident of US Airways Flight 1549, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese in January of 2009. Mundy alleged that high-flying fowl cause more severe problems than those closer to the ground, adding that groups of migrating birds can be dangerous to planes, as with Flight 1549.

According to published reports, Sullenberger opposes the mayor’s plan to put a trash station near LaGuardia Airport — a decision that will inevitably bring more birds to the area.

Acknowledging that the Port Authority takes measures to scare away birds, such as simulated gunshots and preying falcons, Mundy wondered why plane manufacturers have yet to design a system to prevent birds from being sucked into engines.

Mundy added that bird strikes are not just a problem with airplanes. Several tall buildings, including the Empire State Building, have caused the demise of birds killed by flying directly into the glass windows.

RKO Keith’s to rise: FAA approval means 17-story development will fly


| mchan@queenscourier.com

122107_RKO_cam_1_Final

While the curtain has long come down on a historic former movie house in Flushing, recent approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has green lighted RKO Keith’s Theatre for Act 2.

The proposed 17-story development will be built approximately 7,000 feet from the runway at LaGuardia Airport, which raised concerns in the past as to whether its height would pose a hazard to airline traffic.

Property owner and developer Patrick Thompson had to resubmit his proposal to the FAA after a previous approval expired. The site’s last owner, Shaya Boymelgreen, received FAA clearance for the same proposal submitted in 2003, said Thompson’s spokesperson Michael Nussbaum, who added that plans for the tower’s height have not changed for the past six years.

An “unofficial preliminary determination” made by the FAA in January said the building would not disrupt flight patterns, but one day before the end of the allotted public hearing time frame, a Virginia resident, Christian Kellberg, filed objections against the $160 million project, Nussbaum said.

The federal agency overruled the petitions late last week, giving Thompson the go-ahead to proceed with his plans to preserve RKO’s landmark lobby and build 357 rental apartments, stores and a community center around it.

“I am now free to finalize and complete the financing with the current partners and banks and will begin constructing in the very near future,” Thompson said in a statement.
In March, Nussbaum said Thompson garnered additional support of “interested parties,” but he said developers were still not ready to identify the new financial backers.

The project’s start date was set back by the single detractor, but Nussbaum said the team will have a better idea of when construction will begin and end in a few weeks. He said the total construction period will still take approximately two and a half years.

The developers, Nussbaum said, are currently conducting a review with the design team. He said they will soon apply for a demolition license at the same time they erect a steel shell to encase and protect the landmark lobby during construction.

Fowl strikes cause foul feelings


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Recent collisions between birds and airplanes departing city airports could give a much-needed “all clear” for negotiations between the Port Authority and wildlife conservation groups.

While recent uproar mainly surrounds possible runway expansion plans at JFK, in-flight crashes with birds came under scrutiny when a Los Angeles-bound flight was quickly grounded after a bird was sucked into its engine shortly after taking off on Thursday, April 19.

Tarmac expansion came under fire when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced its proposal to extend the airport’s runway, expected to cover a significant portion of the Jamaica Bay area, in February, 2011. The 400-acre area of land, including wetlands and shoreline, was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area by the National Parks System in 1972.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder believes conservationists attempting to protect the birds and those trying to ensure the safety of plane passengers need to collaborate.
While preserving Jamaica Bay has long since been a priority on Goldfeder’s platform, he proclaims he is not for working against the airports, adding that there is always a balance to be found.

Goldfeder also noted that many people believe the birds striking the planes are not the same birds nesting in the Jamaica Bay area.

A source close to the situation suggested increasing traffic out of the city’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, is a better solution than filling in Jamaica Bay.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, claimed that the agency’s wildlife control protocol is above and beyond Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, insisting they are among the industry’s most effective.

“Our wildlife biologists and staff efforts to minimize threats to aircraft include reducing nesting areas, removing standing water and eliminating food sources,” said Coleman. “We also use pyrotechnics to disperse birds. We believe those efforts are effective since the number of incidents at JFK resulting in aircraft damage has remained about the same since 2008.”

Dan Mundy, president and founder of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, believes the recent increase in collisions between birds and planes reflects a recent boost in area wildlife.
Mundy mentioned the famed incident of US Airways Flight 1549, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese in January of 2009. Mundy alleged that high-flying fowl cause more severe problems than those closer to the ground, adding that groups of migrating birds can be dangerous to planes, as with Flight 1549.

Acknowledging that the Port Authority takes measures to scare away birds, such as simulated gunshots and preying falcons, Mundy wondered why plane manufacturers have yet to design a system to prevent birds from being sucked into engines.

Mundy added that bird strikes are not just a problem with airplanes. Several tall buildings, including the Empire State Building, have caused the demise of birds killed by flying directly into the glass windows.