June 12, By Michael Florio
Many Jackson Heights residents claim that airplane noise in the past two months has got progressively worse.
They claim that airplanes have been flying over Jackson Heights at a more rapid rate due to a construction project at LaGuardia airport to lengthen the runways.
Councilman Daniel Dromm said the work started about two months ago and is causing the planes to use a different flight path on alternating weekends. He said the noise begins at 5:58 a.m. on Saturday morning and continues every 30 seconds through Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Port Authority said that the runway extension is needed to prevent a tragedy in case an incoming plane has difficultly stopping.
In terms of noise, a Port Authority spokesman said that the airport does have a “voluntary curfew” where planes are not supposed to fly in and out of the airport between midnight and 6:00 am
Furthermore, the Port Authority spokesman said the agency has no autonomy over flight paths; instead it is left in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
However, Janet McEneaney, the president of Queens Quiet Skies, a community group working to combat airplane noise, claims that the flights have been taking off starting at 5:50 am and sometimes earlier. She also added that when there are delays, planes can be heard until 2 am at times.
The Port Authority spokesman, however, reiterated that the midnight to 6:00 am curfew was voluntary and serves more as a guideline.
There are two runways that are currently being worked on during weekends. Construction takes place on each one on alternative weekends.
Therefore, every second weekend the planes fly west of LaGuardia and residents of Jackson Heights have to deal with the noise. The residents of north east Queens on the alternate weekend (when the other runway is being worked on) then have to contend with it.
“It happens on the weekends, when people sleep,” Dromm said. “The planes landing are actually quieter, the planes taking off are really bad.”
“We have received a lot of complaints regarding the noise,” Dromm added.
Dromm said he wants to work to alleviate this issue, but he can only do so much locally, since the flights are overseen at a federal level.
However, Dromm is encouraging local residents with noise concerns to join Queens Quiet Skies.
McEneaney believes that their advocacy will lead to change, but it will take time. She said it may take up to two years, perhaps longer.
Dromm said that he has been working with the Port Authority to be more transparent about its plans at the airport and wants the agency to hold meetings with the residents.
The Port Authority happens to be doing that next week. It is hosting a public workshop to address federal regulations regarding airport noise next Tuesday at LaGuardia Airport Marriott Hotel, located at 102-05 Ditmars Blvd, at 6 pm.