County Council Chair Declares: 'Cannot Let FAA Plan
At a recent Delaware County Council meeting, council chairman
Andrew Reilly took exception to US Congressman Joseph Sestak's
reported request the FAA call "... a short delay," in the
implementation of the integrated airspace alternative at
Philadelphia International Airport.
"Evidently the Congressman told the FAA that a short delay is
preferable to the lengthier delay that litigation would entail,"
Reilly said. "While we appreciate the congressman's intercession he
needs to know that Delaware County residents do not need a short
delay in implementation of the plan, they need to have the plan
Sestak allegedly wants the FAA to delay the airspace redesign
plan implementation that would send air traffic at low altitudes
over county residential areas to study noise impact and other
issues, Reilly said.
As ANN has reported, the FAA
modified the headings of flights departing PHL over South Jersey
based on objections from residents and officials.
"We dropped one heading that would have sent aircraft over
Gloucester and Salem counties. Now, the new track will shift over
Camden County creating new impacts, but they are slight to
moderate. Based on our modeling, we see no significant noise
increase," said FAA spokesman Jim Peters.
The new plan calls for directing pilots to use only three
departure paths, as opposed to the six departure paths proposed by
the FAA for planes taking off to the west, which would have
impacted a larger geographic area.
The FAA insists allowing planes taking off from PHL to make
turns immediately after take-off, instead of staying over the
Delaware River until they reach 3000 feet, like they currently do,
is necessary to cut down on airport delays, according to New York's
"What Delaware County
wants is for the planes to fly over the river until they reach a
3,000-foot altitude, and, at that point, make their turns over the
county, or (New) Jersey, or wherever they are heading," said
Reilly. "Our experts contend that, by flying planes over Delaware
County immediately after takeoff, all you're doing is putting more
off-ramps onto the overcrowded highway in the sky."
A new FAA report includes a consultant's report that determined
air traffic departing PHL at night was light enough that planes
could continue to fly down the Delaware River as they do now,
reaching 3,000 feet before they turn over residential areas.
Although Rep. Sestak praised the departure-headings change, he
declared the report fell short.
"There's been some progress, but it's inadequate," he said.
Sestak, who has a meeting planned with FAA Administrator Marion
Blakey April 20, noted the FAA's environmental-impact statement did
not account for the effect noise has on people's health, education
and safety, the environment, and property values.
He said he would support taking the FAA to court to delay the
flight-path changes, but recognizes that "the FAA has won 12 of the
13 times that they have been sued."
"I do not know why the Congressman would seek a brief delay...
We want no implementation and... I can tell you that we cannot
delay our plans for litigation. A delay in implementation means
that the plan has been accepted, and we cannot let that happen,"