News Article - March 31 2006

S.J. residents loud and clear with FAA on plane noise
  Federal Aviation Administration officials brought a dizzying display of aerial maps to a public hearing here as it sought community input on plans to redesign airspace in the Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York metropolitan area. It doesn't hurt to bring such an arsenal to bolster their case especially since dozens of South Jersey residents expressed strong reservations about any changes in flight paths that could direct more airplanes over their homes. "It sounds like they're making it better for the airlines," said Gabriella Brown, 40, of Westville.

   She believes better planning could provide some relief from airplane noise. She suggested cutbacks in the number of flights in and out of the airport, saying that it was justifiable because financial troubles experienced by some airlines have nothing to do with flight delays. Other residents attending the hearing talked about how the sound of passing airplanes caused their windows to rattle and was a constant nuisance that reduced their quality of life. Ann Marie Bauman, 43, of Collingswood found a color map showing noise levels around Philadelphia International Airport disturbing.

   Bauman pointed out that noise-reading instruments set up by the FAA were conspicuously absent on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. There are a cluster of noise-measurement sites in northern New Jersey and two along the Jersey Shore. The two sites closest to South Jersey lie across the Delaware River, in Chadds Ford, Pa., and Ardencroft, Del. Most of the sites are spread across New York state. FAA officials explained Monday night that noise levels detailed in the charts are based on computer-generated data rather than decibel readings from actual noise monitors.

   Therefore, Bauman questions the reliability of FAA's projections on noise impact to residents who live within earshot of planes landing and taking off from Philadelphia International. "It doesn't really give us a lot of information," Bauman said. "It could be that they are excellent computer models or it could be that they're not." FAA officials stood by their noise readings, saying results were derived from complex computer models that rely on analysis of noise characteristics for specific planes in flight and during takeoffs and landings.

   The sound monitoring equipment set up at 16 sites in the five-state region, which includes Maryland, record decibel levels of not just planes but other background noise as well. The FAA's proposal to redesign airspace -- a move that would affect 21 airports in five states -- would not result in any significant noise increases, according to FAA officials.

   Air traffic controllers first crafted the redesign in 1998 and then handed the proposal over to engineers who used computers to evaluate the impact of those changes on flights. The plans underwent another review to gauge noise impact, said Joe Hoffman of the FAA. At Monday's hearing, residents also raised concern that extending Runway 17-35 at Philadelphia International, combined with the proposed redesign of airspace, would increase airplane noise. FAA officials say there would be no significant increase in noise as a result of redesign plans. The FAA approved extending the runway by 1,000 feet early last year. Reach Wilford S. Shamlin at (856) 251-3346 or wshamlin@courierposton

Source - Courier Post