New roadmap into Northeast airspace

 - September 26, 2007, 11:35 AM

The FAA has issued a final decision for redesigning the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia metropolitan airspace, but it is likely that airport neighbors will challenge the plan on the grounds that the new routings increase noise.

Shortly after the FAA held a press briefing on the new plan early last month, Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Robert Martinez (D-N.J.) issued a joint statement denouncing it. In addition, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), whose district is north of New York City, claimed that neighborhoods there will now hear up to 600 flights per day.

The FAA said that the new routings are expected to reduce delays, fuel consumption, aircraft emissions and noise. The number of westbound departure routes out of the New York area will increase and there will be less conflict between Newark, La Guardia and JFK.

“This new concept in airspace design will help us handle the rapidly growing number of flights in the Northeast in a much more efficient way,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “This airspace was first designed in the 1960s and has become much more complex. We now need to look at creative new ways to avoid delays.”

The FAA did extensive analysis and held more than 120 public meetings in five states throughout the environmental process. The airspace redesign involved a 31,000-sq-mi area over New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut with a population of 29 million residents. Twenty-one airports were included in the study.

In December 2006, the FAA released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the study. In March, the FAA identified the Integrated Airspace Alternative as its preferred alternative.

Delays should be reduced by 20 percent by 2011 compared to the amount of delays the air traffic system would have without the changes. According to the FAA, half a million fewer people will be exposed to noise under this alternative compared to no change.