Teterboro users, neighbors reach voluntary agreement

 - November 6, 2006, 9:27 AM

The dark clouds that have hung over Teterboro Airport for many months about issues of noise, safety and security evaporated at a press conference last month. For the first time, representatives of neighbors and airport users appeared to be on the same frequency and expressed satisfaction about the apparent meeting of minds.

The press conference was arranged by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ, which owns the airport) in response to recommendations made by the Teterboro Airport Industry Working Group established last year to deal with the concerns of neighbors, voiced principally by Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), whose district includes Teterboro Airport. 

The working committee consists of airport operators and users, the PANYNJ, most of the national aviation alphabet groups in Washington, Rothman and others.

Last spring the working committee issued a series of recommendations aimed at addressing the concerns of airport neighbors. The Port Authority spent several months reviewing and refining those recommendations and called the press conference to announce five voluntary measures to alleviate the causes of the neighbors’ concerns, all of which the airport operators pledged to support.

Rothman, a longtime advocate of limitations on operations at the airport, led the parade of officials who addressed the members of the press, declaring it a “historic moment,” since the opposing sides had reached agreements despite the confrontations that had always flared in the past.

In his opening remarks, Rothman was critical of the FAA, which he said was opposed to all restrictions. The agency’s attitude, he said, was “anybody who wants to can land there.”

The FAA’s attitude has been that any airport that accepts public funding must be open to use by all members of the public. The FAA’s response to Rothman’s statement was that it doesn’t apply to voluntary agreements.

“We want Teterboro to be operated as the finest general aviation airport in the world in terms of safety, quiet and security,” Rothman said.

Bill DeCota, the Port Authority’s director of aviation, suggested, “You can have economic progress and quality of life.” He reported that a Port Authority survey indicated that $1.8 billion in economic activity originates at the airport. He said the Port Authority’s goal is to have only the most essential flights at the airport. He pledged that the agency would work with all parties concerned.

Declaring Teterboro “the most important business airport in the world,” National Air Transportation Association president Jim Coyne said those in the public sector, the private sector, leaders and problem solvers working together can find solutions that will be best for everyone concerned. He pledged that the Working Group would continue its initiatives for improvements. He added that he would meet with aviation operators across the country to inform them of the new rules. “I think we’ve won one for Teterboro,” he said.

Rothman had said that he expected 90 percent compliance with these rules by the end of next year. He said that he would be forced to seek legal or legislative remedies if operators did not comply voluntarily.

While the press conference revealed harmony on the Teterboro issue, there were rumblings from Morristown Municipal Airport. Airport manager Bill Barkhauer was not pleased about the agreement reached on Teterboro. The ban on Stage II aircraft and the curfew would merely transfer the noise from Teterboro to Morristown, he asserted.

Rothman, Coyne and others who spoke at the press conference disagreed. They said most of the aircraft coming into Teterboro were bringing individuals bound for New York and that they would seek the closest airport to Manhattan as an alternative, which would likely be Newark Liberty, La Guardia or JFK.

Voluntary Operational Measures at Teterboro
• Stage II aircraft banned
• airport curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
• aircraft weighing more than 100,000 pounds banned
• all operators urged to participate in a Safety Management System in conjunction with a program sponsored by NATA
• operators will enhance safety measures and support the Port Authority’s effort to install a state-of-the-art surveillance and perimeter intrusion alert system