News Article - October 23, 2008

By Antonio Prado
Community News
Brandywine Hundred, Del. —
  Half a dozen Brandywine Hundred residents and government representatives reiterated their concern this week to Federal Aviation Administration officials about noise pollution and low flying airplanes in light of the FAA’s plans to expand and enhance Philadelphia International Airport. Their comments were part of FAA's ongoing schedule of regional public hearings to gather testimony from citizens regarding its plans. The public's comments and questions will be part of an environmental impact study to be released next year.

   “Philadelphia International Airport is the busiest in the Northeast,” said FAA spokesman Jim Peters at the Hanby Middle School meeting. “What we’re trying to do is put a dent in the annual delays by lengthening each end of the runway.” There are two expansion proposals: either would take about 12 years to complete. The $5.2 billion Option A would add a new runway and extend two others to the east. The $5.4 billion Option B would add a new runway and extend another to the west. “It’s behemoth but we may not approve either one,” he said.

   Noise consultant Robert L. Miller of Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. said airplane noise would decrease under either plan, but without construction, increased traffic would mean increased air noise. “It has to do with how the traffic is arriving or departing from the airport,” Miller said. “The new runway and the extension of the shortest runway now – those will allow traffic to be handled in a more efficient way. Those efficiencies and changes in the flight paths move aircraft away from this area in particular [and other areas].”

   Stephen Threefoot, chair of the Village of Arden, said he has a doctorate yet he has a hard time interpreting the models and methods used by the FAA for describing the impact of the airport’s proposed expansion. “The use of decibels as a tool is really difficult … If I’m standing outside my home speaking with my neighbor, I would like to see metrics that allow me to characterize the impact on our conversation,” he said. “We are a community that spends a lot of time outside. We have an outdoor theatre. All those things are impacted by the plane traffic. At the same time, it’s great to have an airport 20 minutes away. There’s a balancing act there.”

   State Sen. Catherine Cloutier (R-Heatherbrooke) said she represents thousands of northern Delawareans who were affected by the FAA’s recent expansion of a flight path over Delaware. “It has been a living nightmare for many of my constituents,” Cloutier said. “It has to stop. I have hired a law firm to appeal the FAA’s decision with respect to the FAA’s planned air space redesign. I am also a party to that appeal. My good friends Amy Pollock and Stephen Donato and nine communities are also parties to that appeal.

   “There are better alternatives, better flight paths, other things we can do. There are other airports in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that should be utilized more.” Pollock represented the historic interests of Ardencroft, Ardentown and Arden.

   “I think that what the FAA, Philadelphia Airport and everybody else needs to understand is that the current flight capacity, which is estimated at 499,000 flights per year, is an intrusion on our day-to-day lives,” Pollock said. “Planes come in at less than a minute apart. They do come in at well under 3,000 feet. They have been documented over my home as low as 1,700 feet. It is unacceptable and our windows do rattle. Robert Hurst of Timbers agreed. He said his understanding is that flights are supposed to be at least 3,000 feet when they fly over his community. That is not happening on a regular basis.

   “I don’t have any monitoring equipment but I have 42-year-old eyes and my eyes cannot see a half a mile away. And when I can make out the model and brand of aircraft over my house, I know it’s under 2,000 feet. Particulate pollution has Foulkwoods resident Ellen Swipes concerned with the health implications. “There’s always dust in my home even though I’m a pretty good housekeeper," she said. "I don’t think it’s right.”

   Nancy Stone complained about pollution and the difficulty understanding FAA’s maps and explanations. Stone, a former real estate agent, said she believes the planes are also infringing on her property rights, saying people own “so many thousand feet” of the airspace above their homes. People can submit comments through Nov. 10 via email,, or via U.S. mail: Federal Aviation Administration (ATTN: Susan McDonald), Harrisburg Airports District Office, 3905 Hartzdale Avenue, Suite 508, Camp Hill, Pa. 17011.

Source - CommunityPub