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Weiner asks FAA to probe low-flying Concorde plane

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By Daniel Massey

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to launch an investigation into a low-flying Concorde jet that roared over the Rockaways late last month, setting off car alarms and waking frightened residents.

In a letter to the FAA, Weiner said residents at the west end of the Rockaway peninsula were awakened July 21 at about 8:30 a.m. by a low-flying Concorde jet that departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport.

According to the congressman, eyewitnesses described the plane as struggling to gain altitude as it flew across the peninsula at dangerously low levels.

“For more than 25 years the residents of the Rockaway Peninsula have suffered from the extraordinary noise and pollution that the Concorde produces,” Weiner wrote in a letter dated July 24. “However, the July 21 departure far exceeded all past disruptions caused by this aircraft.”

Although Weiner identified the aircraft as a British Airways Concorde in a press release, Arlene Salac, an FAA spokeswoman, said the Concorde in question was actually an Air France jet.

John Lampl, a spokesman for British Airways, said in a Tuesday afternoon interview that the low-flying aircraft did not belong to British Airways.

“At 8:30 a.m. on July 21 we didn’t have a Concorde in the area,” he said. “Our inbound arrival landed at JFK at 9:18 a.m. and departed for London at 12:17 p.m. There was no British Airways Concorde in the vicinity of Kennedy airport at 8:30 in the morning.”

Air France has daily departures from JFK at 8 a.m., according to spokesman Jim Faulkner. But he insisted there was nothing out of the ordinary July 21. “It was a very routine takeoff and landing that day,” he said.

Arlene Salac, an FAA spokeswoman, said the July 21 occurrence was more a noise issue than a safety one. She said the FAA had received Weiner’s letter but had not yet issued a response.

“We’re not looking at it as a low-flying aircraft incident or a safety incident,” she said.

Greg Trevor, a spokesman for the Port Authority, which monitors noise at JFK, said the agency was investigating the incident.

In a companion letter to the Port Authority’s Aviation Department, Weiner pushed for the installation of monitors in the Rockaways to prevent residents from being subjected to unreasonable airplane noise. Such monitors already exist near the end of runways in Howard Beach and South Ozone Park.

“The Port Authority has a comprehensive noise monitoring system with permanent monitors placed in the nearest residential neighborhoods at the end of each runway, including a site in the Rockaways,” said Trevor.

Weiner said the Rockaway monitor was close to the runway but separated from residential communities by water. Additional monitors are needed on the first stretches of land planes cross over after leaving the runways, he said.

Trevor said the Port Authority would work with Weiner to identify additional sites for temporary noise monitors.

The congressman’s letters were penned days after Queens politicians pushed Congress to fund a high-tech flight monitoring system that would allow residents to identify planes by type, airline and altitude using home computers connected to the Internet.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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