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Crowley unveils plans for LGA improvements

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U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) issued a five-point proposal Tuesday he said would make LaGuardia Airport a better neighbor to the 150,000 people who live close enough to endure noise and pollution from hundreds of daily takeoffs and landings.

Crowley also announced he would preside next month at a summit meeting to bring together experts, federal and local officials and community leaders to talk about airport issues concerning the people of Queens.

“LaGuardia airport is unique, because it is one of the busiest airports in the world that also happens to be sandwiched between water and dense residential neighborhoods near the heart of the largest city in America,” he said.

Crowley said he wants:

• A neighborhood noise impact study by the Federal Aviation Administration to determine the existing noise level and project future such levels.

• An environmental health impact study at the airport and recommendations on “ways to mitigate the impact of air pollution on the health of the men, women and children of Queens County.”

• An aircraft curfew by 11 p.m. after which no takeoffs or landings would be permitted.

• A ban on “hush kits,” which are noise suppressors that reduce engine noise on older engines but are considerably noisier than the newer Stage III engines on more modern jetliners.

• A reduction in aircraft congestion, including providing an incentive for airlines to shift flights to other airports or move flights away from peak periods. Crowley and U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) have introduced legislation under which the FAA slot lottery that has reduced flights by nearly 160 a day since December would be extended for a year. It is due to expire in September.

“If concrete steps are taken to address these issues, LaGuardia can be a better neighbor,” Crowley told a news briefing at the airport, which falls within the boundaries of his congressional district.

Congestion at LaGuardia worsened dramatically nearly a year ago after Congress passed the Wendell R. Ford Aviation Investment Reform Act of 2001, known as AIR21. The legislation allows an unlimited number of regional flights by planes with 70 or fewer seats to underserved airports where lack of competition had long resulted in exorbitant fares.

Several airlines quickly put into service dozens of new flights, resulting in an unprecedented crush of air traffic at LaGuardia, which accounted for nearly a quarter of all volume delays in the nation late last year.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey imposed a moratorium on new flights in November, followed in December by the FAA’s lottery among airlines to reduce the number of flights.

“I can’t tell you how many telephone calls I have received from my constituents and even my own wife about noise,” Crowley said.

“Then there is Continental Airlines Flight 1960 from Houston,” he said. “It wakes up me and my family, sometimes roaring in right over our home. Its arrival time at LaGuardia is 1:55 a.m.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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