Nassau County residents burdened by an excessive amount of noisy planes flying over their homes may find relief by focusing their efforts on an existing federal regulation.
Speaking at Monday's meeting of the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Commitee, Henry Young, president of Young Environmental Scientists, presented his “immediate action plan,” which suggests the board pursue a regulation called Part 150. This requires the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of NY and NJ, which operates JFK airport, to conduct a study of its environmental practices including noise abatement.
“Part 150 puts noise on equal footing with [safety and efficiency],” Kendall Lampkin, TVASNAC executive director, told residents gathered at Stewart Manor Country Club.
Young, who holds a Master in Forest Science from Yale and conducted the region’s first Part150 study at Republic Airport in 1987, says it “provides a systematic way of getting at this subject in a constructive and analytical manner.”
It’s a better approach, he said, than going after the people controlling the flights going in and out of JFK, who he explained are just doing their job.
“There are no bad guys in this scenario,” he stated. “If any one of you was in [their] position … you'd be doing the same thing. If you didn’t, you'd be immediately replaced by someone who would.”
Part 150 would not just require the Port Authority to reassess its noise abatement program, but could free up funding for residents to sound-proof their homes.
“There are trust fund monies to address concerns of the most seriously impacted residents, but they can not get to [them] absent of a Part 150 study,” Young said.
But Part 150 is not perfect, he admits. Since noise abatement compatibility guidelines were drafted in the 1970s and 1980s, they aren’t very relevant to today’s fleet of aircraft, he says, and need to be updated.
For instance, jet-powered aircraft have become quieter compared to 30 years ago, but they’ve also become heavier and the sheer volume of traffic has increased. The current decibel scale enables this situation to exist, because it does not adequately reflect what the average human living under the incessant traffic is hearing, Young explained.
That’s why he’s proposing TVASNAC put out a position paper, outlining its complaints and pushing for new guidelines, which would change the criteria for evaluating noise. Right now, the United States is the only country using 65 DNL as the point at which aircraft noise causes “serious discomfort and incapability” (others use lower thresholds), says Young, who’s calling for secondary standards and supplemental metrics to be added to “better reveal what the real problem is.”
Young’s recommended action plan pressures the agencies involved to do more than tally noise complaints, but to respond, determine the areas with the most exposure and insulate these homes.
“If we can’t afford to do … the whole home then we need to have the sleeping areas insulated,” Young says. “Everyone needs a refuge.”
To provide additional funding for these projects, Young suggests tapping into passenger facility charges already levied on every plane ticket. Selected contractors could be trained in how to do this in the most cost effective manner, creating jobs and making the process easy for eligible homeowners, he added.
Lastly, his plan demands nighttime air traffic be handled differently, so there are “appropriate respite hours.”
“If we did those four things,” Young said, “we'd go a long, long way to making these meetings and this committee obsolete.”
Click to view Part I of Patch's coverage of the Aug. 27 TVASNAC meeting.