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Thursday, July 24, 2014
How loud are those planes, anyway?
WebTrak measures JFK aircraft noise in the Five Towns
Courtesy Port Authority
Port Authority noise monitors measure sound levels from arriving and departing aircraft. At right, the one on Peppe Road in Inwood, by the Inwood Country Club.

Aircraft noise from John F. Kennedy International Airport has been an issue for Five Towns residents for years. WebTrak, an online method the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has developed for measuring and reporting sound levels, has been available to the public since March. Residents can see noise levels recorded in real time on the website.
WebTrak, which is accessible from the Port Authority’s website, displays the decibel levels of the flights overhead. A total of 11 noise monitors in the airport’s vicinity are connected to the WebTrak page, where levels are recorded.
Inwood resident Patty Vacchio has lived in her home for 30 years, during which she has grown accustomed to the noise. “When we hear the planes, the noise is quite loud and the planes do fly quite low,” she said. “At times my husband feels if he stands on the roof, he’s almost close enough to touch them.”
The WebTrak system was developed as part of a noise study mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which includes JFK as well as LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty airports. The study is expected to run for three years and cost nearly $3 million. Other noise-focused research has been done in the past, but WebTrak is the most detailed and publicly accessible study to date.
It records noise levels, in decibels, at various locations in and around the Five Towns, including one near the Inwood Country Club, and computes daily averages, known as Day-Night Levels. A DNL threshold of 65 decibels, established by the Federal Aviation Administration, is considered a comfortable limit for plane noise in residential areas.
But Kendall Lampkin, executive director of the Town and Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee, said he thinks that new guidelines need to be established for measuring noise. The committee, formed in 1966 to work on reducing aircraft noise and to monitor environmental concerns created by the airports, has representatives from Atlantic Beach, Cedarhurst, Hewlett Neck, Inwood, Lawrence, Malverne, Valley Stream, Woodsburgh and other communities.

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