Ridley rips FAA’s airspace redesign plan|
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP -- State Rep. Tom Gannon, R-161, of Ridley Township, and Delaware County Councilman Jack Whelan appeared at Wednesday night’s commissioners meeting, armed with maps and plenty of detailed information on how the Federal Aviation Administration’s airport redesign plan would directly impact township residents. "Ridley Township would be impacted by a 900 percent increase in noise decibel levels," Whelan said, standing before an easel that held a large color-coded map of the county with notations of just how a large number of the county’s 49 municipalities would be affected by the redesign plan that would send countless numbers of planes flying over the communities at low altitudes. "There will be people who would say you can’t fight the FAA," he said. "But that is not true." Whelan told the audience at the meeting and the cable television audience watching at home how the county council has been at the forefront in opposing the FAA plan. At its July 25 meeting, council approved the hiring of an Arizona company to do an analysis of the FAA’s Philadelphia Area Airspace Redesign plan. Council also formally notified the FAA of its opposition to the redesign. The commissioners also approved a similar resolution two months ago. Whelan said scores of the estimated 1,700 daily flights from Philadelphia International Airport would follow a flight path over the township. "It is an issue dealing with the quality of life for the people of Ridley Township and Delaware County," Whelan said, adding that there is also a safety issue that is not being addressed, that of debris falling off the landing gear before it it goes back inside the aircraft. Gannon, who said he is a licensed pilot of more than 40 years, explained that under the current system that sends planes over the Delaware River at take-off, an air traffic controller cannot release another plane for takeoff until the one immediately preceding it is three miles "out," or roughly at the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester. "But once a plane makes a turn (to go over Ridley Park and Ridley Township)the controller can release another plane immediately," Gannon said. "That means flights will be taking off every one or two minutes. That will be a dramatic increase in the number of planes taking off. This will ruin the quality of life in the area as well as property values." Gannon discounted the FAA’s contention that the redesign flight plan would cut down on takeoff delays. "The majority of flight delays are weather related, " he said Gannon has organized a petition campaignto gather signatures to send to the FAA opposing its flight path changes. Information and petitions can be found on his Web site at www.repgannon.com. Whelan, who noted that nearly three-quarters of the Philadelphia airport lies within Delaware County, said council believes the FAA’s Environmental Impact Study is flawed. He said the county could challenge the report in court.