News Article - June 6, 2007

Airplane noise hearing set in N.J.  
  Pressured by the New Jersey congressional delegation, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday it will seek input from South Jersey residents about the proposed changes in regional airspace at a June 27 public hearing. The hearing will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Crowne Plaza Hotel, N.J. 70, Cherry Hill.

   Comments made or submitted at the meeting will be reviewed and responded to in the FAA's final environmental impact statement expected to be released in July, even though the deadline for public comment was May 11, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said. A Cherry Hill meeting, plus another June 28 at Woodcliff Lake in Bergen County, were scheduled in response to elected officials who criticized the FAA for ignoring New Jersey because hearings were conducted in Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.

   U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-Haddon Heights, said "hundreds of individuals, including many from South Jersey," were turned away due to overcrowding from the only regional meeting May 1 near Philadelphia International Airport. "We want to give people another opportunity to see and hear what we are proposing and to react to it," Peters said.

   Under the proposed plan, which has been 10 years in the making, many South Jersey communities are expected to be affected -- some with more noise; others with less. Some changes could take effect this fall. The FAA has failed to provide residents with specific census information showing precisely where aircraft noise will increase, said Robert Belzer, president of New Jersey Coalition Against Aircraft Noise.

   "I am pleased that the FAA will have the opportunity to hear firsthand the view of South Jersey residents," said Andrews, who believes the plan is "a waste of taxpayers' money" because it will not reduce delays substantially. Instead, he favors redirecting cargo flights to smaller regional airports, thus reducing traffic out of the major passenger airports. Philadelphia International Airport has one of the worst on-time records in the country.

   Last month, Andrews, in concert with U.S. Rep. Joseph Sestak, his Pennsylvania counterpart who opposes any more air traffic over Delaware County, convinced the General Accounting Office to review the plan. Andrews is also concerned about cost. So far, the FAA has spent $50 million studying how to fan out planes safely to accommodate increased air traffic and improve the flow.

Source - Deleware Online