Airlines have been in the news recently, but for all the wrong reasons.
On Wednesday a Southwest flight had to make an emergency landing after a window cracked on the plane; this came two weeks after a more serious incident where an airplane’s engine broke apart and a passenger was killed.
These incidents were behind a recent effort by U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) to include an amendment in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act that would require a report be conducted on the safety of aging aircraft.
“The tragic Southwest Airlines events of last month and, again on May 2, hammer home the need to ensure that aging aircraft are scrupulously tested and maintained,” Suozzi said in a statement.
The bill passed the House of Representatives on April 27. It must now be passed by the Senate before going to the president for approval.
These reports, included in the Suozzi Amendment #69, would examine the metal fatigue of the plane’s fuselage and would require a review of maintenance work done by contact repair stations.
Other provisions added by Suozzi to the bill include an amendment that would seek to reduce the noise caused by planes flying over Long Island. The amendment would require an evaluation by the FAA of the DNL (day-night sound level), which is currently used to monitor noise near airports and which some feel is outdated.
“The system that they use is antiquated,” said Justin Connor, who works in Suozzi’s office and helped to draft the legislation. “They want to have something a little bit more accurate and modern.”
Connor said that Suozzi and others are looking for ways to reduce noise, such as requiring airlines to use newer, quieter planes, having planes remain at a higher altitude during the approach to landing, and dispersing the arrival of flights.
“It’s complicated, because the amount of people, of tourists coming in has increased,” Connor said. “And now everyone shops online so you have more cargo planes coming in, too.”
Last year, almost 45 million people flew out of John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, according to statistics from the FAA.
The bill also included a provision that would re-evaluate the helicopter route that follows the north shore of Long Island. In addition to Suozzi, the measure was co-sponsored by several local representatives Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Joe Crowley (D-Queens), and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).
“As co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, I have made it a priority to ensure that this reauthorization included provisions that are of great concern to my constituents, namely the continuous onslaught of airplane noise in Nassau County and helicopter noise impacting the residents of Northeast Queens round the clock,” Suozzi said.