A letter sent to Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta also calls on the FAA to actually use data collected from noise monitors to make decisions about changes to flight patterns, instead of relying solely on computer models.
The letter was signed by senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and congress members Carolyn McCarthy, Steve Israel and Grace Meng.
“Without adequate noise monitoring and data collection, it is impossible for the Port Authority and FAA to begin to address community concerns,” said Gillibrand. “With these additional monitors, the FAA will have another way of tracking and mitigating noise.”
Currently, there are four noise monitors in areas near LaGuardia and 10 surrounding JFK, which together make up one of the busiest air spaces in the country. Conversely, other major airports in the nation, such as Boston and Los Angeles, use upwards of 30 noise monitors each.
“The bottom line is that we need more monitors so we can collect the best data and assess impacts and make decisions based on the best information,” said Schumer.
Currently, when the FAA evaluates and compiles reports on the impact of noise on residential areas, it does so using computer modeling that doesn't take into account the data collected from any of the 14 noise monitors already installed and operated by the Port Authority.
That was true for a recent change to a takeoff pattern out of LaGuardia last year that has resulted in a significant increase in noise complaints from neighborhoods like Flushing and Bayside.
“The residents of Queens continue to suffer from the constant barrage of increased airplane noise over their neighborhoods,” said Meng. “It's outrageous that New York's airports are not equipped with the same number of monitors that are being used by other airports around the country.”
A spokesperson for the FAA would only say that the agency is reviewing the letter and plans to respond in “a timely manner.”
“In the biggest, most complex airspace in the United States, we have a fraction of the number of noise monitors used at other big airports,” said Janet McEneaney, co-founder of Queens Quiet Skies. “And not only that, but the FAA doesn't even use the noise data we do have to plan changes in flight procedures. We thank our elected officials for reminding the Port Authority and the FAA that it's time for them to start doing their jobs here in the NYC metro area.”
The Port Authority is moving toward a more transparent accounting of the noise impacts from local airports. The agency is working on a public website that will make data collected from existing noise monitors available within 24 hours.
Earlier this year, a bill was passed by the New York state legislature requiring the Port Authority to conduct what is known as a Part 150 noise study, but for it to be binding, similar legislation must also pass the New Jersey state legislature, where it is still in committee.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also has yet to sign the New York version of the bill into law.