Tag Archives: jfk airport

Op-ed: Making Silent Skies a reality


| oped@queenscourier.com

CONGRESSMEMBER JOSEPH CROWLEY

Anyone who lives here in Queens can tell you just how loud and disruptive the noise of airplanes can be. Millions of Americans throughout the country, including those who live in the communities surrounding LaGuardia and JFK Airports are impacted by constant, thunderous engine noise all day long. The sound isn’t merely a nuisance – it disrupts sleep, distracts students in our community’s schools and drowns out the joys of daily life.

The problem of excessive noise from airplanes flying over our communities has always been a hard nut to crack. Planes usually have a limited number of options for approaching and departing from runways. These flight paths can change based on many varying conditions in weather, winds and congestion. Especially in the crowded skies over our densely-populated city, there are precious few places airplanes can fly where they won’t be heard by some community.

But there’s one way to resolve this problem to the benefit of all our communities: make airplanes quieter.

In 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued regulations requiring all new aircraft designs to meet Stage 4 noise standards, which is a considerably lower decibel level than those currently in use. While these new rules were a significant step toward improving the quality of life for those who live near airports, they did not go far enough. The FAA did nothing to make sure airlines would begin to phase out older, louder airplanes or retrofit them with quieter engines.

Last week, I introduced legislation to fix that.

My bill, the Silent Skies Act, will require airlines to begin stocking their fleets with newer, quieter aircraft. In order to introduce quieter planes into the market, the bill mandates that the FAA issue regulations by the end of 2015 forcing airlines to begin updating their fleets to meet Stage 4 noise standards. Fleets will have to be updated at a rate of 25 percent every five years, so that all commercial airplanes meet these quieter standards by no later than 2035.

But, we can’t stop there. We can’t just phase out today’s noisy planes and call it quits. We must push the envelope and try to develop technologies that make airplanes even quieter.

That’s why the Silent Skies Act will also create a fund to encourage research and development into these technologies. It will allow the FAA issue up to $10 million in grants for developing better ways to help meet or exceed Stage 4 noise standards. In return, companies that benefit from the program will be asked to pay the money back, using the profits they made on their new engines.

When talking with my constituents about aircraft noise pollution in our communities, I always say our airports will never be perfect neighbors, but we can certainly make them better ones. The truth is our airports are only getting busier. New York will continue to be a destination for more and more people. And that’s a good thing for our local economy. But, that doesn’t mean our communities need to sacrifice their quality of life.

The Silent Skies Act is just the kind of approach we can take to make life better not just for the residents of Queens, but also for so many other communities near airports around the country.

Crowley represents New York’s 14th Congressional District, stretching from Pelham Bay to Elmhurst.

 

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Woman caught at JFK allegedly smuggling cocaine in hair products


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A woman flying into JFK Airport from the Dominican Republic last month tried to sneak into the country with more than six pounds of cocaine concealed in hair products, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said.

CBP officers were inspecting the baggage of Erika Rodriguez de los Santos, who had just arrived on a flight from Santo Domingo on November 18, and found five hair product containers that felt unusually heavy. After investigating further, they discovered the “containers produced an oil-like substance that tested positive for cocaine.”  The drugs weighed a total of 6.27 pounds.

Rodriguez was arrested for the import of narcotics and faces federal narcotics smuggling charges, according to CBP.

 

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New TLC facility to protect JFK passengers from illegal ‘hustler’ vehicles


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will now have eyes everywhere at John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport.

The TLC and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey unveiled a new satellite enforcement facility at JFK to consistently monitor any illegal “hustler” vehicles trying to get passengers.

“The TLC’s increased vigilance will help protect passengers at JFK Airport by reducing the chances they may unwittingly accept a ride from a fraudulent and potentially unsafe driver pretending to be a legitimate taxi operator,” said Joseph Dunne, Port Chief Security Officer.

Ten to 15 TLC inspectors and supervisors will be at the site during enforcement operations. At LaGuardia Airport, officials have made 192 seizures of illegal vehicles. Since July, there have been more than 800 hustler seizures.

“JFK is an exceptionally active transportation hub,” said David Yassky, TLC Commissioner and Chair. “It is a magnet for illegal for-hire activity. It’s very natural for us to be here and have a permanent home at JFK.”

 

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Two wanted in South Ozone Park hotel robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a pair of men who allegedly robbed a hotel near the John F. Kennedy International Airport Saturday.

The suspects entered the La Quinta Inn & Suites at 111-26 Van Wyck Expressway around 9:30 p.m, said cops.

One of the suspects went to the front desk, pointed a shotgun at the manager and demanded money. The second suspect held open a bag as the manager placed $560.00 dollars in the bag, said police. They then fled the hotel, heading north on the Van Wyck Expressway.

There were no injuries reported during the robbery.

Cops describe both suspects as black males and 6’0″. The first suspect was wearing a black ski cap, blue jeans and a blue waist length jacket. The second suspect was wearing a white waist length jacket.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Livery cab driver arrested for JFK Airport stabbing


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy the Port Authority of NY & NJ

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

A Flushing man has been arrested for a stabbing at  John F. Kennedy International Airport Friday after getting involved in a dispute with another man.

The incident began outside of Terminal 8 around 4:45 p.m., then spilled into a parking lot, where one of the men stabbed the other above the left eye, according to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Port Authority Police detectives arrested livery cab driver Guang Zheng, 50, at 10 p.m. in Flushing after he drove off in a 2007 bronze Acura, said Port Authority of New York & New Jersey spokesperson Joe Pentangelo. Zheng was charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon

Zheng was also arrested by the Port Authority Police last month for operating an illegal livery cab at JFK Airport, according to Pentangelo.

The stabbing victim, who was transported to Jamaica Hospital after the incident, suffered non life-threatening injuries, said the spokesperson.

 

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Cuomo veto fast-tracks aircraft noise studies


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down a Senate bill last week and instead demanded the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey conduct a noise study and establish a community roundtable.

The governor vetoed a two-state bill last Wednesday that would have required the authority to determine the effects of aircraft noise with a one-time noise and land use compatibility study at all five Port Authority airports.

The legislation, passed by the New York State Legislature, would have needed approval from both Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Cuomo’s veto bypasses the need for New Jersey’s companion legislation and directs the Port Authority to meet with the community and conduct noise studies at LaGuardia and JFK Airports.

“I recognize that aircraft noise has been a concern for residents of Queens County and Nassau County,” Cuomo wrote in his veto note.

The push for noise control comes after the Federal Aviation Administration approved a new flight pattern last December that brought on a barrage of low-flying planes over parts of northeast Queens.

“Residents living among the highest air traffic in the country should have every opportunity to present their views to the appropriate authorities and a vehicle to gather information and hold people accountable,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

 

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Flight 587: Marking 12 years since the tragedy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Twelve years ago, Flight 587 crashed and took the lives of hundreds. Today, loved ones left behind said the pain never goes away.

“The time passes, but the pain is still there in your heart,” said Anne Espinal, who gathered with others at the flight memorial site on Tuesday.

Espinal lost her mother in the crash. She had just turned 50 three days before.

“It’s like losing your best friend,” Espinal said, holding back tears.

She came together with dozens of others on a snowy day of remembrance, carrying brightly colored flowers and tissues as the names of the 265 victims were read.

On November 12, 2001 Flight 587 took off from John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and began its trip to the Dominican Republic. It crashed in the Belle Harbor neighborhood shortly after takeoff, and stands as one of the country’s deadliest aviation incidents.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the crowd of family and friends as they placed flowers near the names of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends.

“Coming here every year is good support,” Espinal said. “It makes me feel really good. I feel like she’s here now. I know she’s watching me.”

 

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JFK Airport workers rally for fair wages


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dave Sanders SEIU 32BJ

David Harrison has worked as a skycap at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport for three years, and is struggling to live with his $4.15 hourly pay.

Four days a week, Harrison helps passengers with their bags from the curb to their respective ticket counters. He relies heavily on tips from these incoming travelers, but said those decrease as the vacation season winds down. On a slow day, he said he gets roughly $30 to $40 in tips. He uses his pay to cover transportation to and from work, his cell phone bill and any household items.

Harrison, who works for American Airline service contractor Alstate Maintenance in JFK’s Terminal 1, said that overall, he is being underpaid. In a complaint filed with the Attorney General’s office, he and other Alstate skycaps allege the contractor violated the state’s minimum wage law for tipped employees.

The state requires employers pay tipped employees $5.50 an hour.

At JFK, Alstate also employs terminal and cabin cleaners, and wheelchair and baggage agents at Terminals 1, 4, 7 and 8. All workers allege the contractors have violated their pay rights.
Alstate workers, elected officials and members of local union SEIU 32BJ gathered at JFK on Thursday, November 7 to call on the airline and terminal operators for better treatment.

Harrison, who receives about $80 a week outside of tips, said that when a baggage cart breaks, they are forced to pay about $40 out of pocket for repairs. Once, he asked a supervisor for assistance in the fix, but was ignored. Additionally, skycaps allege they must frequently assist passengers in need of wheelchair assistance when a chair agent is not available.

These agents receive the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Skycaps don’t get paid any extra to assist with wheelchairs.

“We’re doing two jobs, and we’re not getting paid right for one,” Harrison said.

He added that fellow skycaps have “worked chairs all day, and they don’t make anything in tips.”

“I can’t have workers in my district working for poverty wages,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards.

Richards added his office has received reports that airport workers have experienced intimidation and harassment from their employers when they try to stand up for themselves.

“We just want what’s right for us at the end of the day,” Harrison said.

Alstate Maintenance could not be reached for comment.

 

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BP Marshall joins chorus for FAA exemption


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Borough President Helen Marshall has joined the ranks of Queens congressmembers who are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to exempt two major city airports from a new federal rule.

“While the FAA’s Regional Administrator for our area has made an effort to work with my office and others in the borough, I believe that this is not the time to evade community input,” Marshall said in a letter to the administration.

The proposed FAA provision, officials said, would establish two new categorical exclusions, which would essentially allow the FAA to permanently implement new flight changes without conducting environmental studies.

Marshall and Congressmembers Steve Israel, Grace Meng and Joseph Crowley wrote a letter last week calling for the head of the FAA, Administrator Michael Huerta, to exempt LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports from the order.

A categorical exclusion was applied to a newly approved flight path over Queens called the TNNIS IV climb. Residents said the change has brought upon a drastic increase in air noise.

“To implement such changes without first subjecting their potential impacts to the rigorous scrutiny of experts and the public during the environmental review process would, in my opinion, be irresponsible,” Marshall said.

Queens residents still have until September 30 to submit public comment to the FAA on the proposed rule by visiting www.regulations.gov or faxing comments to 202-493-2251.

Community Boards 7 and 13 passed a resolution this week urging the governor to support a bill that would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct a noise study.

The boards join Community Board 11, which passed a resolution earlier this month.

 

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Police investigating machine gun found at JFK Airport


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Police are trying to figure out how a machine gun ended up inside a ceiling at JFK Airport.

A contractor discovered the weapon while working in a non-passenger area of Terminal 1 around 10 a.m. Thursday, said a Port Authority of New York & New Jersey spokesperson.

The Mac-11 subcompact machine pistol was hidden in a plastic box inside the ceiling of a locked office closet.

There was no ammunition found in or around the weapon.

Port Authority police are trying to determine if it’s a functioning gun and from where it came.

 

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Pols call on FAA to exempt Queens airports from proposed federal rule


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Steve Israel’s office

Two major city airports should be exempt from a new federal rule that would allow flight changes to be made without an environmental review, Queens congressmembers are demanding.

Representatives Steve Israel, Grace Meng and Joseph Crowley are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to implement change impact studies at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports.

A proposed FAA provision would establish two new categorical exclusions to avoid an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, elected officials said.

The new rule, officials said, would essentially allow the FAA to permanently implement new flight procedures without conducting environmental studies.

“The FAA should be focused on reducing noise and air pollution,” Israel said, “not making it easier to bypass vital environmental studies.”

The congressmembers said the head of the FAA, Administrator Michael Huerta, has the ability to exempt the two airports, which use “the most congested airspace in the country.”

A categorical exclusion was applied to a newly approved flight path over Queens called the TNNIS IV climb. Residents said the change has brought upon a barrage of low-flying planes and an increase in air noise.

“It is outrageous that the FAA is seeking greater leeway to exempt itself from vital environmental studies which determine whether or not new airplane routes — and the accompanying noise — adversely impact affected communities,” Meng said.

“The agency’s plan to further sidestep this critical process is a slap in the face to all who live and work underneath new flight patterns,” she continued.

Queens residents have until September 30 to submit public comment to the FAA on the proposed rule by visiting http://www.regulations.gov.

They can also fax comments to 202-493-2251 or mail them to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

“There isn’t a single plane that comes or goes from our airports that doesn’t fly directly over someone’s house,” Crowley said.

“Given this reality,” Crowley continued, “whenever the FAA is considering changes to the way flights arrive at and depart from our airports, the agency must thoroughly study the impacts it will have on our communities, especially with respect to noise.”

 

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JFK celebrates 50th anniversary of renaming, 50 million passengers


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of JFK Chamber of Commerce

Nearly 50 years has passed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the renaming of JFK Airport, as well as the 50 millionth passenger traveling through the international hub.

Russo’s On The Bay, located at 162-45 Cross Bay Boulevard, will host a luncheon on Tuesday, September 10 to commemorate all three occasions. Additionally, a commemorative journal will be published to memorialize the occasion, featuring guest speaker David Neeleman, CEO of Azul Airlines and co-founder of JetBlue.

Neeleman is additionally credited with building five airlines and will return to JFK to speak about his experiences.

And Jack Kennedy Schlossberg, grandson of JFK, will be a featured speaker.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was fatally shot on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas during a presidential motorcade. A 10-month investigation concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger and assassinated the nation’s 35th president.

Just over a month after the incident on December 24, the borough’s Idlewild Aiport, named after the Idlewild golf course it displaced, was rebranded as the John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“When we talk about the notoriety of the airport, it’s important that we identify it’s been 50 years since it was renamed after JFK,” said Bob Caton, president of the JFK Chamber of Commerce.

Built in 1942, the airport was initially supposed to be 1,000 acres to relieve the overcrowded LaGuardia Airport, but by completion, it had grown to five times that size.

In 2012, JFK International took in 49,292,733 passengers, making it the 13th busiest airport in the world and the sixth busiest in the country. This year, JFK officials expect 50 million passengers to travel through their gates.

“Airports are not really seen as a vessel for commerce, but JFK is a vehicle that allows that to happen,” said Caton, who noted that the 50 millionth passenger is a “big event” for the airport.

“We’re very happy to have both 50/50 events happen this year,” he said.

As for the next 50 years — and beyond, Caton said, “as we move forward we want to show people we will be fresh and look toward the future.”

 

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JFK baggage handlers charged with stealing from passenger luggage


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Seven men who worked as contract baggage handlers at JFK Airport have been charged with stealing cash, jewelry and electronics from passenger luggage.

Following multiple customer complaints of theft to El Al Airlines, the Israeli carrier the men were working for at the time, a camera was installed in the baggage hold, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

The men, who were responsible for unloading and loading bags, were allegedly caught on video going through luggage, removing items, and placing them in their pockets and down their pants. The surveillance took place between early April and late August of this year.

In interviews with Port Authority Police officials, according to Brown, the men variously admitted to taking goods from passenger luggage and thousands of dollars of stolen items were recovered from some of their homes and cars.

Those goods allegedly included iPhones, iPads, Sony Playstations, digital cameras, Valentino sunglasses, bottles of cologne, several expensive watches and other pricey jewelry items.

“When air travelers check their luggage with an airline, there is an implicit trust that their bags and their contents will meet them at their destination. It is always disheartening as a traveler to find that trust to be broken,” said Brown. “I applaud El Al Airlines for taking its customer complaints seriously and helping to bring the defendants to justice.”

The busted baggage handlers, identified as Tristan Bredwood, 22, of Saint Albans, Udhoo Doodnauth, 27, of Richmond Hill, Julio Salas, 44, of Corona, Dashawn Schooler, 25, of Wyandanch, New York, Romaine Smith, 25, of Brooklyn, Oshaine Christie, 22, of Rosedale, and Nkosi Cunningham, 24, of Brooklyn, were arraigned on Thursday, August 29 in Queens Criminal Court and charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal mischief, petit larceny and attempted petit larceny.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.Friday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then overcast. Low of 72. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  Rural Route Film Festival 

Whether a modern-day western set in Chile, a documentary about Chinese women thrust into an economic downturn or a drama about a forced marriage in Senegal, the Rural Route Film Festival screens work about people and cultures normally overlooked by the mainstream media. This year features screenings of 28 films from 13 countries, including a program devoted to the late documentarian Les Blank. Friday, August 3-Sunday, August 4 at the Museum of the Moving Image and other venues. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Man asks for $3, Tries to rape TSA worker on way to JFK airport: sources

A TSA worker on her way to Kennedy Airport Thursday was attacked by a man who tried to rape her after she wouldn’t give him $3, NBC 4 New York has learned. Read more: NBC New York

Report: Book pulled from reading list after parents object to sexual content

Sixth graders at a New York City school no longer have to read a book on their summer reading list after parents objected to its sexual content. Read more: CBS New York/AP

First lawsuit being filed against Southwest airlines after rough landing

A South Carolina woman who was injured evacuating the Southwest Airlines jet that landed on its nose at LaGuardia Airport last month is filing a lawsuit Friday alleging pilot error. Read more: New York Daily News

Storm-damaged R subway tunnel closing for repairs

A subway tunnel used by the R train that was heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy will be closed for long-term repairs beginning Friday night. Read more: Fox New York/AP

Russia gives Snowden asylum, Obama-Putin summit in doubt

Russia rejected U.S. pleas and granted American fugitive Edward Snowden a year’s asylum on Thursday, letting the former spy agency contractor slip out of a Moscow airport after more than five weeks in limbo while angering the United States and putting in doubt a planned summit between the two nations’ presidents. Read more: Reuters 

200 homes in Bayside, Flushing file airplane noise complaints last month


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Almost all the noise complaints filed last month at three major airports came from Queens, according to data obtained by The Courier.

More than 700 calls about airplane noise flooded LaGuardia Airport this June, while 348 grievances came in about John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to statistics from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Out of 1,061 total complaints that poured in last month, only 18 complaints were made to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

The complaints came from almost 200 homes in Queens, mostly in Flushing and Bayside, according to Port Authority data collected June 1-30.

About 500 complaints to LaGuardia were from those neighborhoods, with a majority of calls coming from residents near Travis Triangle and Bowne Park.

Residents from across the Queens border in nearby Floral Park made most of the complaints to JFK, a total of 200.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a new flight pattern last December, much to the dismay of residents who say the procedure causes nonstop noise from low-flying planes.

The Port Authority and the FAA said they expect upcoming projects to reduce noise.

Representatives from both agencies addressed the Queens Borough President’s Aviation Advisory Council on July 22.

They said plans to soon rebuild and modernize the Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia would allow for larger planes on the runways. With more passengers per plane, that would mean fewer aircraft in the sky.

Officials also said by 2016, airports will be mandated to only use planes with engine sound-absorbing designs.

Planes going in and out of New York airports, with the exception of corporate aircraft, are currently “Stage 3” planes. The designation means engines are moved further into the interior of the plane to lessen noise.

Propellers are also shaped to deaden sound.

Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said larger planes would not be helpful.

“Even if flights are getting quieter, that won’t mean anything if there are more flights taking place in general,” she said.

Port Authority officials said they are also in the process of replacing 22 noise monitoring terminals and should be done by spring 2014.

They added that a public website will soon launch for people to monitor noise decibel readings and file noise complaints.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and multiple congressmembers from the city and Long Island have called for more action. They recently sent a letter to Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye urging his agency to create an airport advisory committee.

“It is simple common sense to say that the largest metropolitan area in the country should have an airport advisory committee like the one we are proposing,” Schumer said, “a body that would help increase quality of life for locals.”

The New York state legislature passed a bill this year that would require the Port Authority to conduct a one-time study to determine the effects of aircraft noise on Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Jersey residents.

It awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature in New York and ultimately needs New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s approval as well.

Additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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