Incredibly shrinking airspace

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For myself and many others in Queens, LaGuardia Airport was always just a thing you saw from the upper deck of the old Shea Stadium. No one ever thought much about it. Departures over Flushing and Jackson Heights were unheard of. The airport’s flight patterns utilized Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the East River. The neighborhoods that surrounded it were considered desirable places to live and superb areas to raise children. The school districts in northeast Queens, Jackson Heights and Woodside were among the best in the city. For residents and travelers alike, LaGuardia only seemed to elicit indifference.

But that’s all over now.

To increase efficiency and fast-track the NextGen initiative, the FAA condensed the region’s airspace in 2012. Departure paths which were once seldom used or scrupulously avoided were rerouted over highly populated areas. Without warning, communities were ambushed with relentless pollution. Residents who once regarded noise as a trivial nuisance quickly learned that they could not thrive under these changed circumstances. Now, generational families are divesting their properties and quietly leaving. What had once been a flourishing and resilient cluster of neighborhoods is becoming a limp appendage of LaGuardia Airport.

This kind of haphazard urban planning is not emblematic of an advanced society, and it has to change.

We must begin to challenge the view that the economic benefits of aviation industry growth automatically outweigh the consequences of a large scale alteration of our human environment. We must also challenge the perception that aviation growth is a natural inevitability. When an airport begins to consume the very city it was built to serve—as was demonstrated in Kai Tak, China—it is time to question our wonted reliance on aviation.

And wouldn’t you know it, even after all the NextGen flight track changes, LaGuardia is still one of the most delayed airports in the nation.

Brian F. Will

Vice President,

Member, Kissena Park Civic Association

Posted 12:00 am, March 13, 2016
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Reader feedback

Fantasy land from Queens says:
The neighborhoods mentioned have not been desirable places to live for at least 50 years. The increase in pollution in Queens is more attributable to adult children who never leave the comfort of their mother's kitchen so homes built with a one car garage now have four cars jockeying for position in from of them. And then comfort kids have to have remote starts which run their cars for 5 or more minutes before they get in.
March 14, 2016, 12:30 pm
Tired of noise from across the continent says:
I live in the Northwest in a middle-class suburb 20 miles from the airport, and we’re getting constant air traffic at surprisingly low altitudes. This has become common across the US during the last few years. The use of low altitude approach and departure paths allows aircraft to be flown closer together, enabling an increase in the number of flights, so neighborhoods that had never heard a single airplane before are now subjected to continuous noise.

What we need is a meaningful limit on the noise from aircraft that residential neighborhoods are subjected to. The current 65 DNL standard is not sufficient to protect our health. According to the WHO, a single noise event of 45dB will disturb sleep. For continuous noise, and I would consider a flight every minute continuous, the level must be as low as 30dB.

Ever expanding aviation is not sustainable because of both the adverse health effects and the environmental impact, but the profits of the aviation industry are being put ahead of those considerations. If you want the aviation industry to listen the answer is simple: boycott. Don’t fly unless you have to and don’t have anything shipped by air.
March 14, 2016, 3:14 pm

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