County’s battle with FAA takes step forward|
MEDIA -- Noise abatement alternatives prepared by Delaware County Council’s consultant for the its fight to keep departing aircraft from Philadelphia International Airport from flying over populated communities will be presented to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, and Senator-elect Bob Casey in Washington, D.C. Council Chairman Andrew Reilly said at a recent meeting that alternatives prepared by Williams Aviation Consultants include a recommendation that the FAA require aircraft departing Runway 27 in a westerly direction remain over the Delaware River until reaching an altitude of 3,000 feet before turning north. The abatement alternatives also address the negative impact of the expansion of Runway 17-35, and includes mitigation strategies to address use of that runway, as well. At council’s Dec. 12 meeting, Reilly announced that a meeting late last month between he, Councilman Jack Whelan and FAA Project Manager Steve Kelley resulted in an agreement whereby the FAA will consider mitigation proposals to lessen the impact of future air traffic over communities. Reilly has been at the forefront in the campaign to stop the FAA’s proposed airspace redesign project for the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvaniaregion. The redesign plan would reroute more planes over the county, resulting in increased noise, pollution and safety hazards over residential areas. "This is good news for Delaware County," Reilly said of the FAA’s decision to consider alternatives. "As a direct result of our efforts, the FAA is going to consider our recommendations, including a recommendation to keep planes over the Delaware River until they reach an altitude of 3,000 feet before they can fan out over the region. "Here, in Delaware County, we made our voices heard. We met with the project manager, and he agreed to consider any recommendations we had. We already had those recommendations prepared and handed them to him that day (of the meeting). We are still prepared to go to court over this if the FAA does not respond, but the fact that the FAA is considering our proposals is a step forward." Reilly said the county is one of only five areas in the redesign region where the FAA has agreed to consider mitigation proposals. And he stressed that the 3,000 foot altitude requirement that is a preferred procedure by the FAA, be made mandatory. Since the FAA first released its redesign plan, county council has submitted official objections and has held meetings with government officials to voice the county’s concerns. Council has also met with thousands of residents and businesses through town meetings to discuss the FAA plan that the agency contends would reduce flight delays at the airport. Among the federal officials Reilly has met with are U.S. Rep. John Mica, chairman of the Congressional Sub-Committee for the FAA, and Maria Cino, deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation. Reilly showed Cino the towns that would be impacted by increased air traffic. "I think we successfully demonstrated to the FAA that their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the redesign project is seriously flawed and, in fact, won’t reduce flight delays, which is their whole purpose," Reilly said. The council chairman said residents who want to voice their opposition to the FAA plan can fill out the online petition on the county Web site at www.co.delaware.pa.us. Reilly said their names will be forwarded to the FAA and "our leaders" in Washington.