Data & Analysis – To Empower those seeking Transparency, Accountability & FAA Reform.
[KLGA] – An Aerial View of Flushing While on the Whitestone Climb
[KLGA]: An Aerial View of Flushing While on the Whitestone Climb
This is a neat video, fun to watch and less than four-minutes long … you may want to play it again. Plus, it helps to illustrate the problems NextGen is creating in residential communities, such as 400-year-old Flushing, on the west end of Long Island.
The Whitestone Climb was created decades ago to abate noise on Runway 13 departures. Pilots turn right to a 180 heading, then begin a left turn to a 040 heading once they reach a distance of 2.5-miles (see the arc marked ‘LGA 2.5DME’). This routing minimizes overflight of residential lands.
It appears that in September 2012, a passenger recorded the view out a left window of their commercial flight, while taking off from LaGuardia and doing a Whitestone Climb. At about two minutes, the video has a splice; the final minute-plus appears to be video shot from a small personal airplane.
The views are nice, and the music really fits (at least from this writer’s narrow west coast perspective!). But the video also subtly points out that an important aspect of air travel is the show outside – the bonus aerial sightseeing tour that passengers can enjoy with air travel. Or at least it used to be, before NextGen.
Airlines should be proud to share these views, which promote communities while also sparing residents the excessive noise impacts under more direct departure routes. And, circling around Flushing on a sunny day has got to be a visual thrill for most of the passengers, residents and visitors alike.
The Whitestone Climb, Frame-by-Frame
Below is a series of seven screen-captures pointing out some of the landmarks and discussing the Whitestone Climb. At the bottom, a pair of maps are added to help illustrate the full geographic context of Flushing and LaGuardia.
At time 0:19, near the departure end of Runway 13, starting a right turn to heading 180. The view is to the north-northeast and includes two bridges: Whitestone just left of center photo, and Throgs Neck near the right edge.
At time 0:34, while finishing the right departure turn. The view is now northeast. The large highway is the Whitestone Expressway. The bright blue wall on the left is New York Times Plaza.
At time 0:45, the flight is heading south over Citi Field and into the Flushing Meadows park area. The white buildings on the left are Sky View Center, with downtown Flushing behind. Roosevelt Avenue is to the north of Sky View Center; the Long Island Rail line is to the south.
At time 0:55, the flight has been heading 180 and climbing and has now reached the ‘2.5DME’ fix southeast of LaGuardia. A left turn is started to a new heading, 040. On the right half of the photo, the long band of fields and trees marks the Kissena Corridor Park.
At time 1:19, the view is now looking northwest, toward downtown Flushing in the upper left corner of the photo. The busy Long Island Expressway is along the bottom left half of the photo. The large diagonal road is Main Street, to downtown Flushing. On the right edge of the photo are numerous ballfields and Kissena Lake, in a generally forested area. Note the flight has now climbed high enough to substantially reduce the noise impact.
At time 1:39, the view is looking west-northwest. The ballfields in Kissena Corridor Park are at bottom center, with downtown Flushing beyond. Note that nearly every block is residential, grading from single homes to highrise apartments near the core of downtown Flushing, at Main and Roosevelt.
At time 1:50, the view is nearly due west. The departure end of LaGuardia’s Runway 13 is visible on the top edge, just right of center. The Whitestone route is clearly visible in this photo: the right turn over the water, the southbound climb over non-residential Flushing Meadows corridor, then the long left turn while climbing over the Long Island Expressway. The noise mitigation benefits are substantial.
New York City and vicinity (two airports: KLGA top center, KJFK bottom right)
Flushing and vicinity (click on image for satellite view of Flushing in a new window)
Here’s an example of abusive pilots, that also shows how FAA is a captured federal regulator actually enabling this type of abuse.
Fort Devens is a historic U.S. Army facility in the towns of Ayer and Shirley, roughly 25-miles west of Boston. Years ago, the Moore Army Air Field was closed. According to Wikipedia, part of the land then became a hospital facility, aimed primarily at serving specialized and mental health needs for prisoners.
Back in the early 1970’s, coincident with ‘Earth Day’ and the wave of citizen empowerment toward improving and protecting the environment, FAA was nudged into creating an ‘Advisory Circular’ about small airplane noise. The advisory circulars are not binding or regulatory, but they do spell out what FAA asks the pilot community to do, toward achieving certain objectives. This is how FAA treats pilots: ‘pardon me, would you please try this?’, like royalty. If pilots do not conform to the ‘advice’ contained within an advisory circular, eventually FAA can become compelled to issue actual regulations. Now, if FAA also chose to enforce those regulations, we might achieve a nice balance, between the right of the pilot community to use their aircraft, and the rights of the non-pilot community (aka, all of us residents) to enjoy our homes and yards without excessive noise and aviation air pollution.
Roughly a decade ago, residents around Ayer prevailed in a nuisance lawsuit filed against a group of pilots. Ever since, there has been an extraordinary concentration of low-level small-plane flight activity over the homes of the residents who won that legal action. When these residents complain to FAA, to MassPort (the airport authority), or anyone, they get nothing but deadends.
Check out this disturbing example, posted on Facebook.
Now, about that ‘Advisory Circular’. In the 46-years since it was first posted in 1972, it has been updated three times. The updates are generally unsubstantial, as you can see for yourself. Here are links to archived copies of all four versions of FAA’s Advisory Circular 91-36, ‘VFR Flight Near Noise-Sensitive Areas’. Each version is 2-pages, with minor changes as the Advisory Circular evolved. Version ‘91-36B‘ was signed off in 1982, version ‘91-36C‘ appeared in 1984, and version ‘91-36D‘ (the current version) was signed off in 2004.
Frankly, these four versions of Advisory Circular 91-36 show FAA’s ‘milquetoaste approach’ to NOT managing aviation impacts. FAA has made it clear to rogue operators like this one near Boston: they may bully with impunity, knowing FAA will not impair this perceived ‘right’. The impacts that FAA recognized in 1972 have persisted because FAA refuses to serve and fails to evolve. And so, across the nation, for two generations now, residents have complained and been ignored by an agency that serves only the industry it is supposed to be regulating.