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Planes will soon fly higher, U.S. Rep. Suozzi says


All Brookville Mayor Daniel Serota wants is some peace and quiet while sitting in his backyard. And, he said, so do his residents.

“I came home on Father’s Day at 4 and all I heard was the sound of one plane after another,” Serota said, sounding exasperated. “I can see the writing on the plane — it flies that low. I get a lot of residents that complain to me all the time.”

Upper Brookville Mayor Elliot Conway said he sent a letter on June 14 to his residents, who also complain often about aircraft noise. The village is aware, he wrote, “that it is being pounded for hours by noisy, low flying aircraft on final approach to Kennedy Airport. The planes are often minutes apart and at times when they are overhead you literally cannot carry on a conversation outdoors. This is not the tranquil atmosphere we expected to find on the North Shore.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat from Glen Cove, held a press conference on Monday to address concerns about aircraft noise that is affecting not only North Shore residents, but also those living in other parts of Nassau and western Suffolk counties. He was joined by the mayors of some of the villages in his district impacted by the issue, including Bernie Ryba, of Old Brookville; Serota; Marvin Natis, of North Hills; Paul Peters, of Roslyn Estates; and Deputy Mayor Ed Madden, of Upper Brookville. Conway was unable to attend because he is out of the country.

“Airplane noise is crushing some of our neighborhoods, and some of these folks don’t live anywhere near the airports,” Suozzi said. “Residents are rightfully concerned about the noise, especially as we head into normally busier summer months.”

He introduced steps that he said he hoped would help mitigate at least some of the aircraft traffic.

When aircraft are operating west of Deer Park, air traffic controllers will instruct pilots to maintain an altitude at or above 4,000 feet as long as it is practicable.

When parallel runways is not being used for landing, aircraft will be advised to maintain an altitude of 3,000 feet on their final approach until they are within 15 miles of JFK.

The air traffic control tower at Kennedy Airport will rotate the use of operational runways when the weather and workload permit.

Suozzi said that the directives would go into effect on June 24, and would become part of standard operating procedure.

Ryba said he was pleased. “Thanks to Congressman Suozzi’s efforts,” he said, “increasing the flight altitude from about 2,000 feet to 3,000 feet over the Village of Old Brookville will result in a noticeable reduction of aircraft noise over our community.”

Serota said he had been working on solving the noise problem since 2013. “I met with former Congressman Steve Israel and even met with the [Federal Aviation Administration], to no avail,” Serota said, adding that he appreciated Suozzi’s help with the issue. “It’s a major breakthrough to have the planes come in higher, a big first step.”

The mayors from the North Shore, who meet regularly with Suozzi, had reached out to him, Serota said, for help. “The FAA is one big bureaucracy,” he said. “They get paid by us with our tax dollars.”

In May, Suozzi, U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from Garden City, and County Executive Laura Curran met with the Eastern Regional Administrator of the FAA, Jennifer Solomon, seeking ways to alleviate the increase in aircraft noise. They discussed the steps that Suozzi announced on Monday as well as ensuring that flight paths be more equitably distributed over Nassau and western Suffolk counties. They also considered the possibility of expediting the construction and overhaul of a Kennedy Airport runway that is currently closed. According to Suozzi, residents will see — and hear — a noticeable improvement by November, at the latest.