Malvernites enjoyed months of quieter skies during the coronavirus pandemic, which brought about a drastic decline in the number of jets roaring overhead. In recent months, however, those all-too-familiar sounds have returned. Malvernite Larry Hoppenhauer, the New York Community Aviation Roundtable’s corresponding secretary, said that the group had discussed the issue with the expectation that jet noise would increase as travel restrictions were loosened.
“NYCAR has been pushing for a ‘build back better’ program,” Hoppenhauer said. “Basically, that effort has been falling on deaf ears with the Port Authority and the [Federal Aviation Administration].”
Hoppenhauer said he had hoped the FAA would take advantage of the quieter months to discuss new strategies for combating jet noise. He said that Veda Simmons, the FAA’s regional noise ombudsman for New York, has regularly attended the group’s roundtable meetings, but he had hoped she would do more to bring the issues back to the FAA.
“From my perspective, the FAA is too big to be accountable to anybody,” Hoppenhauer said.
“The Federal Aviation Administration’s community engagement officer attends the New York Community Area Roundtable in a technical and advisory capacity,” the FAA said in a statement to the Herald, referring to Simmons. “Through this position, the FAA works with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the NYCAR to inform the public and engage with the community to ensure the agency gives meaningful consideration to community concerns and views. As part of this process, the CEO has facilitated numerous briefings on the subject of aircraft noise to the NYCAR. The briefings have included overviews of air traffic procedures, the environmental review process and FAA’s aviation noise research.”
Overall, New York saw the largest loss of air travel in the country during the pandemic, with an 86 percent drop in flights, according to a report by Airlines For America, an industry trade organization. Despite this, local groups such as the Nassau County Aviation Committee have continued to push for change. Elaine Miller, of Malverne, a committee cofounder, said that she still files noise complaints by way of Airnoise, a handheld device that is activated by pressing what looks like a clicker. The button automatically locates the nearest aircraft, and registers a complaint with the appropriate airport.
“We haven’t really stopped our work,” Miller said. “We’re still working closely with our local and federal executives on this issue. We knew the plane noise would return at some point, so we never relinquished our duties. This has to be an issue that’s on the forefront.”
Miller said her group was hopeful for advocacy from state lawmakers. State Sen. Jim Gaughran and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin introduced in their respective houses bills S966 and A2140, which called on the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the health impact of runway use at JFK and LaGuardia airports on residents living in their vicinity.
“The noise is excessive, harmful to humans and needs to be mitigated,” Griffin said in a previous Herald story.
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