News Article - August 29, 2008

By Jane M. Von Bergen


  Two local congressmen are relying on a soon-to-be-released report from the U.S General Accountability Office to help turn back the Federal Aviation Administration's plan to allow more jets to fly over their districts. The FAA plan is part of an effort to reduce flight delays along the congested U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

   U.S. Rep. Joseph Sestak, a Democrat who represents Delaware County, and U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews, who represents parts of South Jersey, say the report, scheduled for release Tuesday, will show that the FAA did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis for the project, estimated at $300 million. The report will also show that the FAA is not required to conduct an analysis, they said.

   The congressmen said that even if the law does not require an analysis, it is common sense that Congress have information about costs and benefits before it funds any changes and that the FAA should understand that. "Saying that you did the wrong thing in the right way isn't enough," Andrews said.

   Andrews said the absence of a cost-benefit analysis "will give us leverage in the Congress and in the appointment of the next [FAA] administrator," Andrews said. The plan includes increased air traffic over Delaware County and Gloucester County as jets climb away from Philadelphia International Airport. Sestak said the congressmen might pursue litigation to force Philadelphia International Airport to conduct its own noise study and create a mitigation plan, which they say is required by law. They said that Mayor Nutter recently told them that the FAA's noise plans would be sufficient for the city. The FAA's plan is under litigation in a number of places, including Washington, the congressmen said.

Source - Philadelphia Inquirer