News Article - April 13, 2007

Arguments Continue Over PHL Noise Reduction Plan  
  At a recent Delaware County Council meeting, council chairman Andrew Reilly took exception to US Congressman Joseph Sestak's reported request the FAA call "... a short delay," in the implementation of the integrated airspace alternative at Philadelphia International Airport. "Evidently the Congressman told the FAA that a short delay is preferable to the lengthier delay that litigation would entail," Reilly said. "While we appreciate the congressman's intercession he needs to know that Delaware County residents do not need a short delay in implementation of the plan, they need to have the plan scrapped."

   Sestak allegedly wants the FAA to delay the airspace redesign plan implementation that would send air traffic at low altitudes over county residential areas to study noise impact and other issues, Reilly said. As ANN has reported, the FAA modified the headings of flights departing PHL over South Jersey based on objections from residents and officials.

   "We dropped one heading that would have sent aircraft over Gloucester and Salem counties. Now, the new track will shift over Camden County creating new impacts, but they are slight to moderate. Based on our modeling, we see no significant noise increase," said FAA spokesman Jim Peters. The new plan calls for directing pilots to use only three departure paths, as opposed to the six departure paths proposed by the FAA for planes taking off to the west, which would have impacted a larger geographic area.

   The FAA insists allowing planes taking off from PHL to make turns immediately after take-off, instead of staying over the Delaware River until they reach 3000 feet, like they currently do, is necessary to cut down on airport delays, according to New York's Town News. "What Delaware County wants is for the planes to fly over the river until they reach a 3,000-foot altitude, and, at that point, make their turns over the county, or (New) Jersey, or wherever they are heading," said Reilly. "Our experts contend that, by flying planes over Delaware County immediately after takeoff, all you're doing is putting more off-ramps onto the overcrowded highway in the sky."

   A new FAA report includes a consultant's report that determined air traffic departing PHL at night was light enough that planes could continue to fly down the Delaware River as they do now, reaching 3,000 feet before they turn over residential areas. Although Rep. Sestak praised the departure-headings change, he declared the report fell short. "There's been some progress, but it's inadequate," he said. Sestak, who has a meeting planned with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey April 20, noted the FAA's environmental-impact statement did not account for the effect noise has on people's health, education and safety, the environment, and property values. He said he would support taking the FAA to court to delay the flight-path changes, but recognizes that "the FAA has won 12 of the 13 times that they have been sued." "I do not know why the Congressman would seek a brief delay... We want no implementation and... I can tell you that we cannot delay our plans for litigation. A delay in implementation means that the plan has been accepted, and we cannot let that happen," said Reilly.

Source - Aeronet-News