News Article - February 15, 2007

Sestak Holds Town Meeting With FAA Official  
  Congressman Joe Sestak addresses a standing-room only crowd at last week’s meeting in Ridley Township about the FAA airspace redesign. Sestak introduced Steven Kelley, FAA's airspace redesign manager for New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, noting that it was the first time since the redesign plan was announced that the FAA manager was permitted to answer questions put to him by concerned residents. A panel of experts, all Ph.Ds, assembled by Sestak included Arline Bronzaft, noise issues; Can Everbach, acoustics, environmental engineering; Shirley Loveless, transportation planning, economic development; Bill Miller, noise, air emissions issues; Roger Moog, avaition planning. Sestak opened the two and one-half hour meeting by saying that a lot of good work on blocking the proposed airspace redesign plan has already been done by elected and non-elected representatives

  "And I want to add to that good work," Sestak said. Citing noise and safety issues with the redesign issue, the congressman said there are documented studies that show the noise impact on children "This airport has some tremendous economic value to us...but we have to mitigate the quality of life. I don't want aircraft flying over my house," Setak said. Kelley said the airspace redesign is needed to cut down on flight delays at the airport and to improve airport efficiency. One of the ways to mitegate departures delays would be to have planes fly over the Interstate 95 corridor rather than over residential areas. He told the audience the target date for implementing a redesign plan is 2011. The final Environmental Impact Study on the airspace redesign is due in June.

  Panel members spoke of the impact of low flying aircraft on people's health, saying it can aggravate high blood pressure, cause heart palpitations and sleeplessness. They commented on a loss of property values and safety concerns. "Part of the problem is, there is no national transportation policy, no national noise policy. A 1972 noise control act got defunded and is now extinct," Loveless said. Moog called for re-regulation of the airline industry. The Rev. Michael Smith, pastor of the Ridley Park Presbyterian Church and a former pilot, said his biggest concern has always been a safety issue.

  "To take an aircraft and fly it at 1,000 feet at full throttle over a populated area is idiotic," Smith said. Another Ridley Park resident said he is concerned about the outsourcing of aircraft maintenance while a Tinicum Township man said the noise from airplanes isn't the only problem, it's also the noise from the cars traveling to and from the airport throught his community. Panelist Bronzaft agreed, saying that surface noise from cars should be included when talking about airport noise. Several people in the audience suggested airlines uses airports in Atlantic City, New Castle, De. and the Lehigh Valley to alleviate overcrowding at Philadelphia airport Delaware County Councilman Jack Whelan drew applause when he said that planes flying over the county at less than 3,000 feet is unacceptable.

  "Those planes need to stay over the (Delaware) river," Whelan said. "We do not want to file a lawsuit...we want to work with the FAA. But there is no other compromise. We want those planes to stay over the river." Kelley said if the FAA is "boxed in"over the river "we will never agree." Sestak said the next steps will include building a credible noise impact model that uses actual sound measurement readings correlated to impacts on people and hosting future meetings and hearings with Deputy Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino and Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Congressman Jerry Costello.

Source - Town Talk News