FAA considers new altitude rules for planes west of Deer Park

FAA considers new altitude rules for planes west of Deer Park
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi in the village of Old Brookville Monday, announcing new plane height requirements. (Photo by Teri West)

This story has been updated with new information from the FAA.

The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the possibility of requiring airplanes that fly into John F. Kennedy International Airport over areas west of Deer Park to fly no lower than 4,000 feet.

The new procedure was planned to begin June 24, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) announced Monday, but the FAA said it is postponing the start date.

Additionally, planes more than 15 miles away from the airport would be required to remain at 3,000 feet when Kennedy Airport’s less frequently used runway is out of service, the congressman said. There would also be increased runway rotation.

Some planes are flying as low as 2,000, feet, exacerbating the issue of airplane noise that has worsened in recent years due to changing flight patterns and in recent months due to runway renovation, Suozzi said.

The altitude changes would be an immediate partial remedy as area lawmakers continue to advocate for altered flight patterns, he said. The initiative came as a result of a meeting with Federal Aviation Administration representatives, air traffic controllers, Port Authority representatives, air traffic controller union representatives, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).

“They require additional internal evaluation,” the FAA said in an email explaining why the June 24 implimentation date is delayed. “The FAA will coordinate with stakeholders before it makes any decision to implement them.”

Airplane noise has affected the quality of life for Long Islanders in recent years, residents and officials say.

Communities such as Roslyn and Floral Park have noticed a considerable increase in air traffic as the FAA has started rolling out a modernized aviation system called NextGen. NextGen narrowed the air traffic routes over Long Island, making them more parallel rather than V-shaped, Suozzi said.

A Kennedy Airport runway has also been closed for repaving since the first week of April, according to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which has caused even more planes to fly in the new patterns, Suozzi said. The work is scheduled to continue until November.

“A lot of people who don’t know this issue say, ‘Oh, people should know if they move near an airport, they’re going to have this problem,’” Suozzi said. “We’re 20 miles from an airport.”

Roslyn Heights resident Steve North said airplanes have made it hard for him to enjoy his home in recent months. He normally sits in a gazebo in his yard when the weather is nice but has been unable to this year.

“I close all the windows in my house, I turn on the air conditioning to make a little bit of white noise and I turn on the music…and it barely helps,” he said.

North has tracked flights over his home using airnoise.io, a website that allows users to access a plane’s height when it is flying over a particular location, and said he has found that many are between 1,500 and 2,000 feet above the ground.

New airplane altitude requirements are a good first step toward relief and an acknowledgment that this is a real issue affecting many communities, North said.

Roslyn Estates Mayor Paul Leone Peters attended the Monday news conference on behalf of his constituents, although only one has come to him about the issue, he said.

“If you’re doubling the height, you’re significantly lowering the noise,” he said.

Suozzi said getting help from the FAA authorities in Washington, D.C., has been a bust. Since entering office in 2017 he has been unable to get a meeting with the top official.

The regional authorities have been much more supportive, he said.

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