Airplane Noise: is it really the ‘Cost of Progress’?


Progress means some will get an airplane earful

Originally published: August 28, 2013 4:52 PM

Updated: August 28, 2013 7:02 PM

A US Airways jet airplane is seen taxiing

Being part of a community sometimes means taking one for the team. This may be one of those moments for people who have airplanes taking off from LaGuardia Airport thundering over their homes. The Federal Aviation Administration should do what it can to mitigate the burden for residents of affected western Nassau County and Queens communities. That includes closely monitoring the noise and engaging with residents to address their complaints. But the concerns of the few aren’t enough to justify abandoning a narrower, more precise flight path.

The controversial route, known as the “Tennis Climb,” was created decades ago so that planes leaving LaGuardia wouldn’t fly over the center where the U.S. Open is played. Rather than fanning out and heading east and then north after taking off from LaGuardia, aircraft follow a more exact route that takes them directly over a few Queens neighborhoods and into Nassau before turning north.

The ongoing transition from old-school radar-based air traffic control to a satellite-based global positioning system known as NextGen allowed FAA officials last year to expand use of the more precise path to prevent departures from LaGuardia from conflicting with arrivals at JFK International Airport. NextGen enables planes to safely fly closer to one another. It’s a technological leap that will save fuel, cut emissions and reduce delays in the region’s busy airspace that ripple out across the nation.

FAA officials said they support the formation of an airport advisory council to amplify the public’s voice in its decisions. And the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is weighing the need for more noise monitors. Those things should have been addressed long ago, but better late than never. NextGen is a crucial air traffic control upgrade, but officials should ensure that reaping its benefits inflicts the least pain possible on residents.