News Article - April 18, 2007

Middletown Council Hears Reilly's Take On FAA Plan  
The FAA's airspace redesign for Philadelphia International Airport is probably the biggest issue that Delaware County has faced in 20 years, according to County Council Chairman Andrew Reilly. Reilly, an attorney who lives in Middletown and formerly served on the township's zoning hearing board, attended Middletown Council meeting last week to present an update on the proposed redesign plan.

   He noted it would have "a dramatic effect" on quality of life in many parts of the county, including Middletown. "The FAA decision will come out in August and at that point we'll be ready to go to court if necessary," Reilly said. "We're working with the FAA, but we're going to keep fighting this until we get something we can live with." Reilly said the FAA project to redesign airspace was launched in 1998 in an effort to reduce flight delays. But he pointed out that 71 percent of flight delays are caused by weather, not flight patterns. The time saved in terms of flight delays is minimal, he said. "Redesign is not really worth it," he added.

   He explained that westbound planes currently take off over the Delaware River and after reaching an altitude of 3,000 feet, turn right at the Barry Bridge in Chester. Under the redesigned airspace plan, a plane taking off would immediately turn right and fly over Delaware County before the 3,000-ft. altitude requirement. This would greatly increase the noise level for thousands of residents, said Reilly. He said the municipalities most negatively impacted would be those closer to the airport than Middletown. "But we'll definitely see more planes overhead here," said Reilly. This prompted a resident to lament, "a plan like this makes backyards unusable."

   Reilly said anyone who observes a plane flying lower than what looks like 3,000 feet should call his office. The offending plane can be tracked back through a radar system. He said he would meet with Congressman Joe Sestak (D-7) Wednesday (today) to continue discussing the dilemma. He noted that although their approaches are different, their talks have been constructive. "Hopefully, we're on the same page, working together," he said. "Legislation is fine, but it's two years away. Planes are going to be flying over Delaware County in August."

Source - Town Talk News