Today, Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Grace Meng (D-NY), New York State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and New York State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to form a committee to do a good faith, step-by-step review of the decision-making process used when approving the new flight patterns over Queens. The public officials requested a meeting with representatives from the FAA in Washington, D.C. and persuaded them to agree to this review.
Rep. Israel said, "Residents of Queens deserve to live without the constant barrage of airplane noise that they've experienced since the FAA approved new flight patterns without taking into account community feedback. I'm pleased that the FAA has agreed to form a committee to review this issue as a result of our meeting today. I hope it results in a more balanced plan that will alleviate the noise pollution for our constituents."
Rep. Meng said, "I thank the FAA for meeting with us and for taking action on our concerns. Agreeing to work with the community to review the new flight patterns, and taking another look at the environmental assessment process in the step by step process we urged, is a move in the right direction. Although more still needs to be done, this is a positive move that can hopefully have an effect on the increased airplane noise that Queens residents have been forced to endure."
State Senator Avella said, "This is another step in the process of resolving this issue and bringing relief to the communities that have been inundated with excessive airplane noise. I appreciate Reps. Israel and Meng's assistance in reaching this point in the process."
Assemblyman Braunstein said, "I would like to thank Congressman Israel and Congresswoman Meng for using their influence to push the FAA to fully explain the rationale used to determine that the new flight pattern was legal. I am confident that an exhaustive review of the FAA's process will reveal that the agency cut corners in its effort to justify implementing the new departure procedure."
The new flight patterns, which redirect many departures from LaGuardia Airport over residential neighborhoods in northeast Queens, were implemented in February 2012 on a six month trial basis. This past December, the FAA announced that it would make the new routes permanent.
The substantial rise in airplane noise has negatively impacted the quality of life in northeast Queens, and has sparked protests from area residents who have noticed a marked increase in the frequency of flights.
Reps. Israel and Meng sent a letter to the head of the FAA in February asking him to take these concerns into account.