LaGuardia plane traffic draws hundreds as NE Queens activists speak

Representative from Queens Quiet Skies, the Port Authority and the FAA answer questions about increased air traffic noise. Photo by Bill Parry
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When City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) convened a town hall meeting to address the sudden increase in airplane noise from LaGuardia Airport, he was hoping to inform the community how best to complain to authorities.

He was pleased to see representatives of the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration attend along with 100 Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst residents.

“They appeared willing to work with the community with a more transparent approach,” Dromm said.

The meeting took place Monday night at PS 69, at 72-02 37th Ave. to discuss the dramatic increase in airplane traffic since October, when the FAA rerouted flights into and out of LaGuardia without any notice to the community.

“We saw low-flying planes every 30 seconds for 12 straight hours,” Dromm said. “It became a quality-of-life problem and I wanted the community to know how they could self-advocate.”

The changes in flight patterns were started with a new program the FAA is using called NextGen. The system employs global-positioning satellites that allow for more frequent takeoffs and landings. The FAA’s website says the program “enhances safety, reduces delays, saves fuel, and reduces aircraft exhaust emissions.”

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined the meeting because his District 11 in northeast Queens shares the same concerns.

“The FAA said they were going to test the new routes for six months and monitor the response, but they never told anyone how to respond,” he said.

Leaders of Queens Quiet Skies, a community advocacy group formed in northeast Queens, showed how other cities enjoy better results from noise monitoring systems and community interaction through roundtable discussion groups.

Queens Quiet Skies President Janet McEneaney said “other cities have roundtables, why don’t we? It’s about time that they understand that we live here. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”

Quiet Skies Vice President Robert Whitehair, a pilot himself, detailed the shortcomings.

“Chicago’s O’Hare [Airport] has 40 permanent noise monitors — we have two at LaGuardia. Most big cities have roundtables and they are effective. In Los Angeles they got the FAA to change flights 1,000 feet higher over the beaches,” he said.

Mark Guiod, manager of the FAA’s New York Terminal Radar Approach Control, cut short a family vacation in Connecticut to lead an FAA delegation to Dromm’s town hall meeting and he promised better community involvement through roundtables in the near future.

“This is the beginning of a dialogue,” Guiod said. “The roundtables will be a great help for both parties.”

There were additional promises from Ian Van Praagh, of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which manages LaGuardia Airport.

“We’ve heard many calls from Jackson Heights,” said Van Praagh.

He said a new website would roll out in January, a permanent noise monitoring system based on the Los Angeles model, and an automated telephone hotline — 1-800-225-1071 — is being set up to log noise complaints.

Jackson Heights is experiencing a real estate boom with the best third-quarter apartment sales in five years, a 43 percent improvement over last year, according to Beaudoin Realty Group.

While he did not think airplane noise would scare off new residents, Dromm said, “It’s too desirable a neighborhood so I don’t think it will effect real estate, we want to make sure people remain attracted to this neighborhood and I think this meeting helped nip it (airplane noise) in the bud.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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Reader Feedback

Phyllis from Woodside, Queens, NY says:
We have planes flying over our homes , Public School 11 and St. Sebastian's every 40 seconds for up to 20 hours a day. The smell and taste of jet fuel is disgusting! Think about the cancer causing toxins being dumped upon us! Even worse then the unbelievable noise!!! Would the FAA, Port Authority allow this to happen over their homes?? Their childrens' schools?? I think not!!
Nov. 27, 2013, 2:49 pm
Grace Wiley from Elmhurst, Queens (near 74 St & B'way says:
WITH MY WINDOWS CLOSED, I WAKE UP BEFORE 6 am because of the jet noises which last until 4pm--I can't enjoy my radio or enjoy my tv, and I cannot hear phone conversation and people cannot hear me if I am near the window--THAT IS LOUD. The noise is so often, it seems like every 30 seconds, it sounds like one very loud noise. My window sills were full of black soot so I have to keep my windows closed. I do not see the sparrows, and I am unable to enjoy any beautiful birds singing. I have a very difficult time sleeping because of pain, and now I cannot take a nap or go back to sleep after the noise starts--the jets sound like they are taking off from my kitchen. PLEASE DO SOMETHING-- THIS NOISE HAS BEEN GOING ON SINCE AUGUST, I thought it was because of tennis. This is not the first year either, this has been going on for a few years, but not long enough nor constant enough to complain. There are more than 600 apartment units on each block in my neighborhood and these coops/ condos are very expensive. More aggressive action has to be done or this will be an every day problem that will never change.
Dec. 29, 2013, 12:23 pm
David from Bayside says:
This is just another nail in the coffin for Northeast Queens which for decades was a family friendly neighborhood. The citizens of Northeast Queens will pack up and leave and those who remain do not care about the noise and overcrowding as long as they can live in new high rises and have shopping centers nearby. Our politicians should be doing more and not allow the the FAA or anyone else to destroy a good thing. I am sure if this was affecting Manhattan they would be riots in the streets. I understand we have two airports in Queens but there has to be a better way. Every time the weather is poor the plane fly lower and what appears to be more often.
Jan. 16, 2014, 7:08 am
Jenny from Woodside says:
I live in a war zone because of plane noises from LGA!!! Again, I lost my sleep this morning!!!!!! The past few days, jets have been flying from 6am to 12midnight every 30 to 60 seconds!!!! FAA, Ny&nj port authority, and governor DO SOMETHING!!!!! Don't just log the problems!
June 1, 2014, 9:31 am
Adrastos from Bath Beach says:
Even in my neighborhood of Bath Beach, which is clear across Brooklyn from LGA, the planes fly from the Gravesend Bay clear across Brooklyn and Queens, creating havoc on all the residents below, that DID NOT buy homes near airports.

The FAA deceided to change the flight paths without the public being aware, so we wake up one day and say: "gee, we never had planes fly this low and this close together". Now, that was 2 years ago, nothing has changed. Sure LGA changes runways from time to time, yet they never use runway 13, which would give all the Brooklyn and Queens residents a break, No, runway 4 is used the most and is the worst for the residents living below. They should at least alternate every several hours, as to relieve the residents.

The "NextGen" claims all these wonderful things it is supposed to do, but it never mentions being "quiet". It can't. How can an airplanes that fly at 2600 feet in the air at 30 second intervals be quiet. It can't. All they talk about is reducing delays and getting as many flight in as possible. i cant imagine any more flying in, unless they go to 15 seconds apart???

We do not need a so called independent noise study, we do not need noise monitors, we already have the thousands of residents that already are telling the FAA that the planes are too low, and too loud. Why can't they comprehend this?

Did the FAA ever think for even a second that flying planes over our homes every 30 seconds apart, all day every day for the rest of our lives would be acceptable? I don't think so.

Where is Schummer and Gillibrand? Do they even have a slight clue, or do they have there head ups their arses? It makes me wonder if they have some sort of $$ with the airlines.

I think what the FAA and PA have done to our communities is simply criminal. They are robbing us of our peace and quiet. Sure, to hear one plane fly by is no big deal, but it is the 1199 that follow it during the course of the day up until midnight and after that become the problem.

This needs to be addressed now, now 3 years from now, but now. How do they expect the hundreds of thousands of tax payers to put up with this crap? This is not acceptable.
June 6, 2014, 10:32 am
Kim from Woodside, NY says:
I do not know what the FAA's policy is when they decide to allow these planes to fly this low, this loud, and this frequently over the Woodside residential areas, but I am guessing that none of them live in Woodside. If they do, I am more than certain that they would not have allowed this horrible condition to continue for themselves and their families.

It used to be one day a week or two weeks, but now, it's been every single day from 6:30 a.m. to almost till midnight or even till 1:00 in the morning. I can't even make a phone call at home because the plane traffic over my apartment is too loud and too often all the time.

The FAA needs to have a serious look at what they are doing to these people in Woodside, and make sure that this air traffic torture doesn't continue. This just has to stop.
Sept. 16, 2014, 2:06 pm
Jessica from Glendle Queens says:
We watched 25 planes loudly pass our house in a 20 minute time span. At first we were scared something bad was happening. It wakes our children up, scares our dog and keeps us awake! Flying so low and yes I am concerned of the toxins in the air due to this!
Oct. 14, 2014, 9:19 am
federico savini from woodside says:
i m from woodside and the noise it s unacceptable.
Aug. 31, 10 am

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