News Article - March 22 2006

FAA will air 4 flight plans
FAA will air 4 flight plans   In 2005, 535,666 flights arrived and departed from the Philadelphia International Airport, making it one of the top ten busiest airports in the world. According to a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration, Philadelphia is also among the top airports in the country to encounter flight delays. To combat delays and plan for growth in Philadelphia and other area airports, the FAA is planning to redesign airplane travel routes in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania -- plans that have not seen major amendments since their initial design in the 1960s.

   A public meeting to discuss four proposed plans -- two that could increase air traffic over Gloucester County -- is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Paulsboro High School. The FAA introduced four preliminary airspace redesign proposals in December, after a six-year study to relieve congestion and prepare for future growth at the Philadelphia International, John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International, Teterboro and 16 smaller airports. "The whole effort is to become more efficient," said Steven Kelley, acting airspace and procedures manager for the FAA.

   The first proposal is to reconfigure flight schedules in airports without redesigning airspace, which would not address delays, according to the FAA. The second is to modify the existing airspace by shifting departures from Philadelphia further east, resulting in added flights over towns bordering the Delaware River in Gloucester County.

   A third is to move Newark departures over the Atlantic Ocean before they return west, a plan developed by the NJ Citizens for Environmental Research, Inc. to decrease noise pollution in the state. Kelley said the proposal would actually increase delays. A fourth option would merge the airspace in two air traffic control areas by stacking departures from Philadelphia with another westbound route at a second altitude, also increasing flights in South Jersey. The FAA is holding public meetings on the proposals through next week. The public comment period ends June 1, and the FAA will decide on a plan within a year, according to Kelley. Depending on the plan, it could take until 2011 to implement the new design.

   Through initial public hearings, Kelley said, most residents voiced concerns over increased noise pollution. West Deptford Councilwoman Janice Hauser is one of those lobbying against the increased air traffic locally. "My first concern is definitely the noise," she said. "They're so low and they're so noisy. My next concern is the safety of the tankers and the refineries along the river." West Deptford and Paulsboro councils passed resolutions opposing the planned construction of an additional runway at the Philadelphia International Airport, fearing more traffic along the river. Hauser said she believes the airspace redesign ties in with the new runway.

   Paulsboro Mayor John Burzichelli said he supports West Deptford's initiatives and is interested in the FAA's presentation as to where the increased traffic will go. "Planes have been landing at Philadelphia International since planes have been flying," he said. "But is there a way to help reduce congestion without increasing traffic?" The public meeting at Paulsboro High School begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday. A discussion and question-and-answer period will follow a video on the possible environmental impact of the plans.

Source - NJ.Com