October 25, 2006
Board Demands FAA Review of Airspace
The recent crash of a small plane into a New York City high-rise building left residents shaken across the board as the event brought back a rush of all-too-familiar fears sparked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers.
In light of the recent accident, which left Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle and a pilot dead, Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski has sponsored a memorializing resolution supporting the efforts of Senator Charles E. Schumer, who has demanded the Federal Aviation Agency conduct a "top-to-bottom review" of New York airspace.
"On the heels of the accident in the city," said Graboski, she felt it was imperative to address an issue she believes is critical.
The resolution refers to the Town of Southampton's 1970 master plan, which emphasized the importance of defined goals and strategies aimed at ensuring the protection of the seaside community's quality of life and natural resources.
Just last year, reminded Graboski, the town board voted on July 26 in favor of a memorializing resolution supporting Schumer's efforts to address helicopter noise over Long Island, a continuing problem for thousands of residents.
Graboski said that since the FAA has not completed an assessment of airspace in the New York area since before "the devastating effects of September 11, 2001," the time is now for a comprehensive review.
In addition, the resolution states that general aviation rules for small planes and helicopters in the New York area have not been significantly upgraded over the last 10 years and remain less stringent in comparison to the aviation rules imposed around Washington, D.C., leaving the area vulnerable.
In fact, the resolution reminds, New York's current rules leave security officials and air traffic controllers with no real way of knowing if a plane or helicopter has veered off course and is heading to a potential terrorist target.
Due to the proximity of three of the four major commercial airports serving the New York area, including JFK, LaGuardia, and Islip-Mac Arthur, to Long Island, as well as the volume of air traffic generated by those airports, Graboski said Southampton residents are concerned not only with safety aspects and the risk of terrorism, but with quality of life issues and the significant impact of air traffic in the area.
Schumer has called for the FAA to move quickly to complete the New York airspace review, with a look at nine specific issues focusing on concerns related to terrorism, safety and security risks.
In addition, the town board reiterated the 2005 resolution in support of Schumer's efforts to demand the FAA complete the New York Metropolitan Area redesign plan, with an emphasis on improving safety and efficiency in the region, setting up a strict network of helicopter flight corridors to divert aircraft away from residential areas to preferred routes over water, incorporating minimum altitude restrictions in order to mitigate impacts of excessive noise on area homes, and implementing the plan as soon as possible.
Councilwoman Linda Kabot said she would co-sponsor the resolution.
Whether something will be done, said Graboski, remains to be seen: "The FAA is an entity unto itself."