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Boro group gets new tool in fight to quiet planes

A Queens environmental advocacy group has a new tool in its struggle to mitigate what the organization contends is a major concern of thousands of Queens residents — the roar of planes from the borough’s two great airports.

Sane Aviation for Everyone, known as SAFE, obtained a state-of-the-art type of noise measuring meter with a $10,000 grant from the New York City Youth and County Services agency with help from City Councilwoman Julia Harrison (D-Flushing).

The device, known as a precision sound level meter, is manufactured by the Larson-Davis Co. of Provo, Utah.

“This new meter is the only one in existence that gives what is known as day-night sound measurement,” said Jerome Goodman, an engineer and acoustics expert, in an interview after a meeting of SAFE last Thursday evening at Flushing Hospital auditorium.

“We hope that through use of this meter, we may be able to put together class-action lawsuits,” Goodman said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled citizens may not sue the U.S. government or the Federal Aviation Administration but may sue operators of airports. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark airports.

“We expect to show that the noise from LaGuardia and Kennedy is greater than that reported by the FAA’s Integrated Noise Model,” Goldman said.

In commenting on the Nov. 12 crash of an American Airlines jet at Belle Harbor, SAFE issued a statement saying: “We regret the loss of human life both of those in the airplane and of those on the ground at Belle Harbor and sympathize with the grieving families.”

SAFE said, however, that such a tragedy “was bound to happen” when considering “increased flight operations in high-density airports such as ours due to the AIR-21 Legislation” and other factors. AIR-21 is the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment Act for the 21st century, which authorized unlimited flights by regional jets carrying no more than 70 passengers to underserved airports as a way to increase competition and bring down previously exorbitant fares.

Among SAFE’s objectives are:

Amending AIR-21 to halt quantitative growth of airports, reducing or ending shuttles on the Eastern Seaboard by promoting use of high-speed trains, curbing air cargo expansion in favor of rail use, enforcing a flight curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. except in emergencies, reducing or banning the Concorde at Kennedy Airport, reducing noise by assessing fines for using hush kits on Stage 2 jets, initiating impact studies of aircraft noise on property values and human life and restoring funding to the federal Environmental Protection Agency Noise Abatement and Control office.

SAFE Inc. is a coalition of citizens’ groups and people established July 7, 1994 in Bayside and incorporated in 1995 as a non-profit educational corporation under New York state law.

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

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