Member of Queens Quiet Skies announced at Monday night's Community Board 7 meeting in Flushing that they are undertaking an initiative to help address noise issues with nearby LaGuardia Airport.
“It turns out that there has been an airspace redesign in the Northeast that nobody told us about,” said Janet McEneany, president of the new organization and a member of neighboring Community Board 11
Queens Quiet Skies plans on working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to discuss solutions to eliminating the recent increase in airplane noise. McEneany spoke about a meeting her group had with the FAA last month.
“We got them to commit to do something massive, which is to work with us under a written agreement,” she said.
McEneany said the FAA has done this in numerous communities throughout the nation that deal with airport noise, however this is the first agreement of its kind in Queens, which is home to two of the nation's busiest airports.
Group member Robert Whitehair, a former pilot and former airport manager, also spoke at the board meeting.
He said the FAA has implemented a program known as “Next Gen,” which uses GPS devices to track planes and allow pilots to see other aircraft around them. This allows for more frequent landings and take-offs.
While Next Gen provides a safer and more efficient system, it also comes with an increase in airplane traffic.
“The noise is getting worse,” Whitehair said, “and it’s probably going to get worse over the next few years unless we do something about it.”
In the 1980s, Whitehair said he was part of a group in San Francisco that met regularly with the FAA to address the same issues facing Queens residents.
Given his experience with the FAA, Whitehair, who now lives in Douglaston, said that it will likely be a long fight for a solution, however it is attainable.
For example, he said in Los Angles the FAA agreed to alter flight patterns due to noise complaints from the community.
“It's not easy, but we do have the capability of working with the FAA to change the flight patterns,”Whitehair said.
The meetings are actually proving useful in addressing issues other than noise, said McEneany. For instance, LaGuardia Airport has been left behind in the technological department for years.
“There’s a lot of things, it turns out, we do not have at our airport,” she said. “Probably because we didn’t know we should have them.”
The group will hold a community meeting on May 2 at Bayside High School from 7 to 9 p.m. It will feature speakers addressing the issue of noise pollution in the area.