The combined noise of LaGuardia takeoffs and landings is not an environmental issue and a flight pattern test that officials had not been told had begun has, in fact, been completed.
Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration made both statements to the Queens Borough Board on Monday night in regard to a growing number of complaints about the growing levels of airport noise near LaGuardia Airport in recent months.
Jeffrey Clarke, New York district manager for the FAA, and Ralph Tamburro, an air traffic management officer, appeared at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens to discuss a pilot program used in the last few months that has had residents and officials — particularly those in northern and northeastern Queens — furious.
The increased noise from the tests caused state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) to host a public rally outside his office on Aug. 31 that drew nearly 50 people demanding answers from the FAA.
And if the FAA folks thought they were in for an easy evening on Monday, the thought was dispelled as Borough President Helen Marshall opened the meeting.
Marshall was livid to find that officials and community boards had not been told that the tests were going on.
She, Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and representatives of more than a half dozen community boards all said the FAA left them with no answers when noise complaints across the borough started to go “off the charts.”
“You show up here first,” Marshall said. “You don’t come to us last ... We have two airports in Queens. One is the gateway to America and the other gets you around America. This seems unfair to this borough.”
Hugh Weinberg, who serves as Marshall’s general counsel, told the FAA representatives that he is at most meetings of the Borough Board’s Aviation Advisory Council and that the study was never broached to local officials.
“We’ve had reports of a great increase in noise without notice to the community or elected representatives,” he said.
Dromm said it is simply a matter of courtesy to the airport’s neighbors.
“We can’t tell people what is going on because you don’t tell us what is going on,” Dromm said.
Tumburro said the test was of an already active but seldom used TNNIS climb pattern out of LaGuardia’s Runway 13, which is oriented roughly northwest to southeast.
The TNNIS climb, initiated some years ago in connection with but not exclusively for the US Open, has all such planes climb steeply and circle back quickly after takeoff in order to avoid overlapping with patterns for incoming planes that are preparing to land at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s 22-Left and 22-Right runways.
But he also said that the tests began on Feb. 13 and ended on Aug 13, the latter more than two weeks before Avella’s rally at which residents said they had seen no relief.
That left Gene Kelty, chairman of Community Board 7, with more questions.
“We have been getting increased noise complaints for the last two months,” he said. “You can say it started in February, but we had people with their windows open in April and May. What did you do differently in the last two months?”
Both men said the FAA did nothing differently. But Clarke said he would pass on the request for future notice “even though we were not specifically required to. I’ll call that a lesson learned.”
This, Clarke said, was not a function of his staff — “We just move planes and keep them apart in the air and on the ground,” he said — but of the FAA’s environmental division, which deemed that a study of takeoffs did not have enough of animpact to warrant notification.
Vincent Arcuri Jr., chairman of CB 5 was incredulous.
“If you have 10 takeoffs and 10 landings in one area and you add two takeoffs, you are studying the combined noise,” he said.
“That’s not an environmental impact,” Tamburro said without elaborating.