Tag Archives: Federal Aviation Administration.

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.

Waste transfer station meets with opposition


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

College Point the city's solid waste  - 01

A local advocacy group is hoping the city trashes its plans for a waste transfer station near LaGuardia Airport – which it says attracts flying objects other than planes.

The members of Friends of LaGuardia Airport believe the North Shore Marine Transfer Station, which is currently under construction in College Point and expected to be completed in 2013, will increase the likelihood of midair collisions between airplanes and birds.

“The main issue is that it is a hazard to aviation because it is a bird magnet. January 15 is the anniversary of the miracle on the Hudson,” said group president Ken Paskar, referencing the emergency landing by US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger in the Hudson River after his plane was struck by a flock of birds. “I believe that these are miracles, and we can’t expect every single incident to be a miracle. If this station is built, I believe it is a question of when, and not if, there will be a bird strike.”

According to a report commissioned by Friends of LaGuardia, the station, which is roughly 100 feet high, would also make it impossible for the airport to implement a low visibility precision instrument approach procedure (IAP), which aids pilots during inclement weather landings. Economist David Berkey, who conducted the study, says LaGuardia currently reroutes planes away from its main runway in low-visibility weather, increasing the number of delayed and cancelled flights.

“If they build this transfer station, the airport cannot use IAP, and in inclement weather, they will continue to reroute planes from their main runway,” said Berkey, who claims he used highly reliable data from airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the study. “This is costing between $74 million and $183 million a year in cancellations and delays. Right now, because they don’t have IAP, they are also delaying half a million to a million people a year – and this will only get worse with the station.”

Due to an ongoing lawsuit filed by Friends of LaGuardia, the FAA deferred comment to the United States Justice Department, which declined comment.

Julie Wood, a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says the installation if IAP at LaGuardia was deemed impossible – regardless of the station’s construction – due to the “many technical and physical obstacles at the airport.” Bird collisions are also not considered a serious threat, according to Wood.

“Experts at the FAA have studied bird patterns thoroughly and believe that this transfer station will absolutely not increase the risk of bird strikes,” said the spokesperson. “Anyone who says otherwise is scaring people for no good reason. Building this transfer station will allow us to achieve the important goals of our waste management plan – making it cleaner and greener by taking trucks off the street.”

Despite the assurances of the FAA and due to concern for their constituents’ safety, Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Michael Simanowitz recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the construction of transfer stations near airports in New York City. Senator Toby Ann Stavisky plans to introduce the bill in the Senate as well, according to Meng.

“It is not fair to Queens to have the station placed so closely to the airport and so close to where people live,” said Meng. “People are scared of another accident like what happened with Captain Sullenberger.”

Beyond increased difficulties and dangers to aviation, Paskar believes the station will also create foul living conditions for College Point residents.

“A lot of the garbage in the borough will be brought to this station to be transported out of Queens,” he said. “So the people of Flushing and College Point will now have to bear the burden of approximately 3,000 tons of garbage a day from throughout Queens in their community. Hundreds of garbage trucks will be coming to this transfer station and destroying the neighborhood’s transportation infrastructure as well.”