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Feds plan to reroute jets away from Rockaways

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Federal officials next month will start rerouting more jetliners taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport away from the Rockaway Peninsula, where a Nov. 12 crash into Belle Harbor killed 260 people in the plane and five on the ground.

    U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) appeared at a town meeting at PS 114 in Belle Harbor Sunday to discuss the changes, which were expected to take effect Feb. 21.

     “We are going to see an 80 percent reduction in the flights that cross over the Rockaway Peninsula,” Weiner said. “This is truly a historic set of solutions to a problem that has been plaguing Rockaway residents for a generation.

“We don’t live in Kansas. We know we live near an airport. But now we know efforts will be made to protect our peace and quiet,” the congressman said.

    “Flights that used to take off and then curve and bank over the Rockaway Peninsula are going to keep going straight out beyond Breezy Point and out to the ocean before they return to their regular route,” Weiner said.

He said when the number of flights exceeds 24 per hour, computers would route planes over Jacob Riis Park, an unpopulated area at the western end of the peninsula.

     Frank Hatfield of the Federal Aviation Administration said the FAA would use new technology employing satellites to direct the planes away from the Rockaways.

     American Airlines Flight 269 crashed minutes after takeoff from JFK en route to Santo Domingo on Nov. 12, killing 260 passengers and crew members and five people on the ground.

     In another development, the National Transportation Safety Board announced its investigators had discovered damage in the tail assembly of the American Airlines Airbus A300.

     But the NTSB did not say whether the damage, called delamination, or a peeling away of layers of material of which the tail assembly was constructed, was the cause of the crash or whether it was a result of the accident.

     The plane’s tail section has been undergoing testing at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., since early December to determine if the vertical stabilizer and rudder had any pre-existing flaws.

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

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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