Segment 2 Of 2 Previous Hearing Segment(1)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 STRAIGHT-OUT DEPARTURES FROM NEWARK AIRPORT
Thursday, November 4, 1999
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, D.C.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:30 a.m., in room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John J. Duncan, Jr. [chairman of the subcommittee] Presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. I would like to call this hearing of the Aviation Subcommittee to order. We are here today to discuss noise issues in and around Newark International Airport at the request of Congressman Fossella.
Noise, of course, is a very controversial issue affecting communities that surround airports. Unfortunately, the reality is that planes make noise, and of course they must fly somewhere and we have great increases in all types of air traffic nowair passenger traffic, air cargo traffic and so forth. The difficult issue is trying to limit the noise over all communities.
Newark International Airport is in a particularly difficult situation. It is in an area that has had many noise problems because of the huge numbers of people who live nearby. This subcommittee held a hearing in 1995 to discuss this issue. We heard from members and communities in New York and New Jersey. Now noise problems still exist and we are revisiting a certain part of this issue at the request of Congressman Fossella.
Our friend Vito is particularly interested in a procedure called a straight-out departure from runway 22 at Newark. Currently when planes fly out of Newark on runway 22 they turn left and fly out over the Arthur Kill to try and keep the noise over the New Jersey communities at lower levels. In doing this, the airplanes often fly over a corner or part of Staten Island. This has led to an increase in noise complaints from the residents of Staten Island who are Congressman Fossella's constituents. He would like to have the planes fly straight out of runway 22 and thus keep the noise tracks away from his district. Flying straight out of runway 22 would route the planes over Elizabeth, New Jersey, and other communities southwest of the airport.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Straight-out departures used to be standard operating procedure at Newark until the early 1950's. In 1951 and 1952, there were three plane crashes over the city of Elizabeth, within just a few months, killing people who were both on the planes and also on the ground. While the planes' routing did not cause the crash, the lives on the ground that were lost would not have been at risk had the planes not been flying over the city. Subsequent to these accidents straight-out departures were banned at Newark.
In the ensuing years, noise has become a big issue in the surrounding communities. The FAA has spent a great deal of time and effort in attempting to resolve some of these issues. Not surprisingly, they have been unable to resolve them to everyone's satisfaction.
We are going to hear today from Congressman Fossella about this issue. Congressman Franks is also going to testify with respect to his views. Congressman Payne wanted to be here to testify, but he is in Newark with the President today.
We also have Ms. Arlene Feldman, the FAA Eastern Regional Administrator to talk about Congressman Fossella's concerns and some of the things the FAA is trying to do. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has sent Susan Baer, the General Manager of the Newark airport to discuss the routing and noise issues. In addition, we have the Mayor of Elizabeth, Mayor Chris Bollwage, to discuss some of the New Jersey community concerns; and Mr. Joseph Carroll, a community board member from Staten Island, is here to discuss Staten Island's concerns.
Finally, Mr. Nicholas Dmytryszyn is here representing former Congressman Guy Molinari. Mr. Molinari is now the Borough President of Staten Island and certainly has some strong views on these issues.
I welcome everyone to the hearing and I yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I particularly thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today. I know that this issue is very important to members from both New Jersey and New York, and I look forward to hearing more about this issue.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 But first of all, I would like to mention the fact that my right-hand man who sits at my left over here, Paul Feldman, is attending his last Aviation Subcommittee hearing. Paul has unfortunately been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to go to Brussels and represent the FAA in Brussels for the next 4 years or so.
It is a magnificent opportunity for him, a magnificent opportunity for his family, but he will be very, very much missed here on the Aviation Subcommittee. He has contributed a great, great deal to the overall success of the committee, and he has contributed a great deal to me as the lead Democrat on the Aviation Subcommittee.
I didn't know him before he came to work here, but in the time that he has been here, I have gotten to know him quite well; and you can't find a more knowledgeable aviation person, a more dedicated individual for improving aviation in this Nation and in the world, and I know he will do a fantastic job in Brussels representing the FAA.
The only thing I say to him is that he should try to conceal the fact that he worked for me, as much as possible, when he gets there.
But, Paul, good luck to you, and I know you will be happy there.
And, Mr. Chairman, I now look forward to hearing from the witnesses and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. We haveI have just been handed a letter from Congressman Frelinghuysen, and we will place that in the record of the hearing for today.
[The letter follows:]
Mr. DUNCAN. Does any other member wish to make an opening statement at this time?
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. LoBiondo would be next.
Mr. LOBIONDO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to welcome my colleagues, Congressman Fossella, Congressman Franks, and tell them we are very happy to have them here today. I will be listening very carefully. I am from the southern part of the State, but we are all concerned about this issue and thanks again.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, as a member of the subcommittee and one of the representatives of Newark International Airport, I am disappointed about the process and the treatment I have received as a committee member leading to today's hearing. Nonetheless, I amI find it interesting that the committee, which has very significant broader public policy concerns than examining one flight pattern over one airport, would choose to accept and adopt this time for such a hearing. But that is the prerogative of the Chair.
I do appreciate the opportunity to bring Mayor Bollwage of Elizabeth here, even though it took extraordinary efforts to try to get him here, since he is the mayor of the city most impacted by the proposal before the committee today.
Newark International Airport plays a pivotal role in the northeast transportation network. Last year it served more than 30 million passengers, including my dear friend and colleague Congressman Fossella, whom I have flown with on more than one occasion into Newark from Washington. As a matter of fact, I think we flew together last week.
It is busier even than LaGuardia and JFK. It also has the most delays per thousand flights in the country in its aircraft travel over some of the most congested airspace in the country. That is why the FAA chose to redesign the airspace over New Jersey and New York in order to reduce aircraft noise, increase efficiency, and improve safety.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Legislating flight pattern plans is a dangerous precedent. I am concerned about the effects of H.R. 790, the Staten Island Aircraft Noise Reduction Act of 1999 not only on New Jersey and its residents, but also on the Nation. That is because, if the FAA is forced to investigate and test this flight pattern plan, the effort will take away limited personnel and resources from the FAA's National Airspace Redesign Team. And I am certain all members of this subcommittee agree that reducing aircraft noise is an important goal for their districts and regions as well. And the National Airspace Redesign effort in stage 3 aircraft requirements are two things Congress has done to reduce aircraft noise not just for one neighborhood, community, city, or State, but for the entire Nation.
Beyond the national implications of this bill, my district and its residents are the place and people most affected by aircraft noise from Newark International Airport. In fact, according to a 1995 environmental assessment, the straight-out departure that is proposed from Newark Airport would increase noise for over 8,000 residents in Elizabeth and add aircraft noise to an area with two hospitals and several schools; and this noise would be at some of the highest decibel ratings, harmful not just to one's peace of mind, but harmful to one's health.
It does not seem fair to increase aircraft noise levels for the residents who are already the most negatively impacted by noise problems. In fact, our principle should be not to concentrate aircraft noise in one area. Rather, it should be to reduce aircraft noise for as many people as possible. That was the principle that led us to mandate stage 3 aircraft and the National Airspace Redesign effort.
Mr. Chairman, I hope the subcommittee will allow the experts at the FAA to continue their efforts to redesign the airspace over New Jersey and New York and the Nation without causing a delay to the redesign process and without congressional micromanagement.
I look forward to the testimony of the witnesses.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Menendez.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Chairman, the hearing that we had a few weeks ago on delays in our air traffic control system was entirely appropriate, useful, and beneficial to the country, to the Congress; and I believe, in the long run, to the FAA, to the air-traveling public. But this is not. To redesign the airspace or a portion of it by act of Congress is not only bad precedent and bad policy, it is dangerous. It is not safe.
Thank you. I wait to hear what the gentleman has to say.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Does anyone else wish to make an opening statement?
Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. Chairman, if I may, I am not looking to make another opening statement, but I do have from my colleague Mr. Payne who shares Newark with me and who, due to President Clinton's visit to Newark, which I would have been at but for this hearing, could not be here and asked that his testimony be included in the record. I would ask unanimous consent for that.
Mr. DUNCAN. His statement will be placed in the record.
We will now start with the members panel. We have two members, the Honorable Vito Fossella of New York and the Honorable Bob Franks of New Jersey; and, Congressman Fossella, we will start with you, please.
TESTIMONY OF HON. VITO J. FOSSELLA A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM NEW YORK
Mr. FOSSELLA. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you especially, Chairman Duncan, and your staff, Ranking Member Lipinski and the committee for holding this hearing, which I hope will shed light on the systemic failure by the Federal Aviation Administration to adequately address operational concerns at Newark Airport, New Jersey.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 At the outset, let me state that the overwhelming majority of people, I believe, employed by the FAA are hard-working individuals who take to heart the Agency's mission to protect the safety of the flying public. And to briefly address my distinguished colleague, Mr. Oberstar, Mr. Menendez, we are left with no choice but to hold this hearing.
Our common sense dictates that the FAA would implement the safest, most efficient takeoff pattern, one that is simple to navigate for the pilots, easy to manage for the controllers and reduces the risk to the public. Yet the FAA has forced aircraft departing Newark Airport to fly a takeoff pattern that defies common sense. Almost immediately upon lift, the most critical and precarious moments of any flight, aircraft must veer 30 degrees to the left, travel 2.3 nautical miles and turn sharply back in the opposite direction, zigzagging in the sky, while attempting to gain altitude. Instead of acting responsibly to address the concerns of some, finding an equitable solution, the FAA simply shifted the burden to Staten Island and ever since has pitted New York and New Jersey against one another in a political battle, I believe, designed to have no winner.
An alternative plan, one that top FAA officials have admitted is safer and more efficient, is called the straight-out departure because, as the name implies, it allows aircraft to fly straight upon takeoff and climb unrestricted to 5,000 feet.
I have here today a copy of a 1980 FAA report which was approved by high-ranking FAA officials following a presumably secret 4-day test of the straight-out departure in April of 1980. Their documentthis document reveals in detail that this is the safest and most efficient departure plan for Newark Airport.
The report examined four areas: one, operational advantages for the air traffic controllers; two, operational advantages for the pilots and the airlines; three, fuel economy; and four, noise impact. The results of the test overwhelmingly favored immediate implementation of the straight-out departure. The findings revealed that the straight-out departure, one, provides a safer and more direct route for the aircraft; two, decreases air traffic controller workload; three, significantly addresses fuel efficiency for multimillion dollar savings to airlines and, ultimately, consumers; four, reduces delays and saves thousands of hours of passengers and crew time; and lastly, has no increased noise impacts on the surrounding communities.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 The report concludes that the test, quote, ''offers significant justification for the immediate adoption of straight-out climbs off runway 22 L/R at Newark,'' end quote. This test was successful.
The results were ignored. FAA officials have chosen to ignore this report. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request I filed with the FAA in early 1998 to obtain the report, which I believed existed, the Agency responded that, quote, ''The 1980 report would normally fit the criteria for destruction,'' end quote. I would imagine my distinguished colleagues would be troubled by that response, knowing that it addressed serious concerns in the districts that you represent.
I today again call on the FAA to implement a new test of the straight-out departure, a test that can be implemented immediately; and I am anxious to hear the FAA's response to this request.
Even more limited attempts to increase safety and efficiency have been met with stonewalling and bureaucratic resistance by the FAA. For instance, in the fall of 1997, the FAA announced a 6-month test of a new departure plan known as the 260-degree turn. The day before it was to begin, the FAA once again buckled under political pressure and indefinitely postponed the test. After 2 months of negotiations, the FAA agreed to test the 260-degree turn for 6 months.
From day one, it became apparent that the FAA was not committed, I believe, to an honest evaluation of the 260-degree turn. The FAA never required aircraft to comply with the new takeoff pattern and monthly radar tracks promised to me were lost when a series of mysterious computer crashes wiped out all the data.
I have two letters here that I would like to insert into the record. One is from a Mr. Frank Hatfield, the FAA's manager of the Air Traffic Division in our region, which states that the environmental assessment of this 260-degree turn would be completed no later than the summer of 1999 and forwarded to me subsequent to that date. Two days ago, I received a letter from Ms. Arlene Feldman, Regional Administrator of the FAA, which states that the FAA was discontinuing the EA process. I find it unbelievable that the FAA is discontinuing a process they were supposed to have completed over 2 months ago. And what a coincidence that I received this letter 2 short days before this hearing. Once again, the FAA has not made good on its promises.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 [The letters follow:]
Mr. FOSSELLA. Before I continue I would like to compliment my friend and distinguished colleague from New Jersey as well as Mr. LoBiondo, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Franks for their dedication to this issue in trying to find a regional solution to the problem. However, I must respectfully disagree with one alternative the FAA has pursued relentlessly. It is called the over-the-ocean routing plan and has been criticized as inherently unsafe.
In 1995, testimony before Congress, former Administrator Hinson said, ''The ocean routing proposal would have substantial adverse operational and safety impacts. It would have complicated air traffic controller workload, posed a significant safety concern, and would cause an average departure delay of 35 minutes per aircraft,'' end quote, to add to the already significant delays at Newark.
In 1995, after 5 years of study, the FAA resoundingly rejected the over-the-ocean routing plan because it was and is unsafe. It would put Newark Airport takeoffs in the direct path of incoming air traffic to LaGuardia and JFK.
Why has the FAA agreed to spend more taxpayer dollars reviewing a reckless plan that is both a hazard and a failure? Why would the FAA want to increase delays at the airport that, for the past 7 out of 8 years, has been number one in delays in our country? The over-the-ocean departure should be taken off the table now.
The FAA's track record is less than stellar. It is filled with broken promises to the people of Staten Island, false hopes and glaring misstatements. The people of my borough have suffered long enough.
I encourage the FAA to proceed with its redesign of the metropolitan region's airspace only if this effort is undertaken in an honest, fair, unbiased, objective, and nonpolitical manner. I believe the FAA will be hard-pressed to deny that the straight-out departure is the safest and most efficient takeoff pattern from Newark Airport and even harder pressed not to implement it.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 At present, the FAA is embarking on a full-scale redesign of the airspace in the New York metropolitan region. The goals of this redesign are to make air traffic more safe, improve efficiency and reduce air noise. I have great concern whether this important study will be undertaken in an objective manner, because in my view, the FAA is lacking credibility to develop and implement a major New York-New Jersey regional airspace redesign.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleagues from New York and New Jersey for the dedicationespecially you, Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member, Mr. Lipinski, for your time and effort in holding this hearing and dedication to this issue. I look forward to working with all now and in the future; and as to the concerns addressed about whether this hearing is an appropriate use of time, I can only tell you that the people who live in Arlington and Mariners Harbor, which is on the north shore of Staten Islandand you can tell by this chart sometimes every day, every 2 minutes, there are planes screeching over their homes; and it affects their quality of life practically every 5 minutes of every dayto them this is important. So I would beg your indulgence to work with us on this issue.
With that, I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Fossella.
TESTIMONY OF THE HON. BOB FRANKS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM NEW JERSEY
Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. As you indicated, Mr. Chairman, until the 1950's, most flights arrived at and departed from Newark International Airport by flying directly over the City of Elizabeth and surrounding communities in New Jersey. However, in the case of Newark International Airport, the practice of routing aircraft directly over these densely populated areas proved to be fatal. In 1951 and 1952, but within a span of less than 2 months, there were three fatal aircraft crashes in the City of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 On December 16, 1951, a Miami Airline -C46F experienced massive engine failure, clipped two buildings, and crashed into the Elizabeth River. All 56 passengers were killed and one person on the ground was seriously injured.
Slightly more than a month later, on January 22, 1952, American Airlines Flight 6780, flying in foul weather, crashed into several apartment buildings at the corner of Williamson and South Streets in downtown Elizabeth. All 25 passengers were killed; an additional seven people died when the aircraft impacted their apartment building.
Ten days later, on February 11, 1952, National Airlines Flight 101 experienced the loss of a single engine. Flight 101 began to rapidly lose altitude until it impacted with an apartment building on Westminster Avenue, located again in the confines of the City of Elizabeth, New Jersey. This time 26 passengers were killed. Four people residing in the Westminster Avenue apartment building also lost their lives.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit for the record the reports from the Civil Aeronautics Board concerning these three accidents.
Mr. DUNCAN. Those may be placed in the record.
Mr. FRANKS. After this tragic series of crashes, the Federal Government actually closed Newark Airport for 4 months. When the airport was finally reopened, straight-out departures from Newark were banned.
Even though air traffic safety has improved remarkably in recent decades, the tragedy that we all witnessed this past weekend should serve as a reminder that we need to retain the common-sense measures that have helped to protect lives and property. Aside from public safety, I think it is important to examine the quality-of-life issues associated with the suggestion of straight-out departures. Since 1987, when the Federal Aviation Administration implemented the expanded East Coast Plan, thousands of New Jersey residents have had to endure the constant assault of jet noise at all hours of the day and night, making it impossible to get a good night's sleep or to have a quiet conversation in the back yard.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 We in New Jersey fully understand the annoyance of constant jet noise. What rattles windows in Staten Island rattles windows in Woodbridge as well. The problem, however, is a dawning one. On any given day, fully 70 percent of all commercial air traffic in the world flies through New Jersey-New York airspace. This congestion will not be remedied by simply routing aircraft over someone else's State or someone else's congressional district. All communities impacted by this problem need to work together to seek regional solutions to this regional problem.
Direct departures from Newark will place thousands more aircraft in the skies over some of New Jersey's most densely populated communities, thereby exacerbating the existing air noise problem in those areas. FAA estimates show that straight-out departure will result in decibel levels of 75 or more in and around the City of Elizabeth.
Unfortunately, H.R. 790 does not offer a regional solution. This legislation would seek to place one region's jet noise burdens squarely on the shoulder of another. Knowing that such an increase in jet noise over one isolated area would never receive a favorable review from an environmental impact statement, the bill before us would actually exempt the Administrator of the FAA from any requirements to adhere to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 or any other law.
NEPA was established to hold the Federal Government accountable for the environmental consequences of its actions. Exempting specific legislative actions from this requirement suggests that the Federal Government can shirk all environmental responsibility whenever an EPA study could interfere with some proposed congressional action.
Furthermore, let me echo Mr. Menendez. By directing the FAA to study straight-out departure, valuable FAA time, financial resources, and human resources would be taken away from our area's best chance at a solution to the aircraft noise problem, the Airspace Redesign Project. This study, conducted by the FAA, will be based on sound science and will consider the region as a whole when preparing an abatement plan.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 New Jersey and New York need to work together toward the common goal of quieter skies.
Mr. Chairman, finally let me recognize and applaud my friend and colleague, Vito Fossella. I have a very large number of constituents impacted by this problem; and we are constantly in contact with the FAAand candidly, it has been a difficult relationship; it has not been a responsive relationshipand in that regard, I feel for Congressman Fossella, understand his frustration and the frustration felt by the folks on Staten Island.
We need to do a better job dealing with this problem. I hope that airspace redesign offers us that opportunity. I don't think this legislation is in the best interest of the region, but I do commend Congressman Fossella for taking this to the committee today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Bob.
Ordinarily, on this subcommittee, on a members panel, we do not ask questions of the members so we can move on to the large number of witnesses that we have remaining and also because we have a chance to discuss with members on the floor and at other times. However, if anyone does wish to ask either Mr. Fossella or Mr. Franks a question at this point, I would be glad to let them do so.
Mr. Menendez or Mr. Oberstar?
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Chairman, I just want to clarify by restating what I said. I did not say that it is not an appropriate use of time; a hearing is always beneficial.
I would not have held a hearing on this subject. I think this is more appropriately done in chambers with the FAA and members and community people to discuss the matter. What I said was, it is not appropriate to legislate redesign of the airspace. We cannot legislate every part of America through the airspace at every major airport.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 What I want to ask of our colleague ishe throws a very serious accusation at the FAA in a news release of this past March saying that a mysterious, top secret report was shredded. What is the evidence that it was shredded?
Mr. FOSSELLA. Mr. Oberstar, first let me address your initial comments, and that is, we are left with no choice but to have this hearing because I think if you were sitting in my chair and lied to by the FAA, you would feel just as repugnant towards the individuals you were dealing with, because I don't know about you, but I don't like to be lied to when it affects my community.
So I again thank the chairman for holding this hearing, because when we tried to obtain this report that we believed to be in existence, we were told it was destroyed and in fact the FAA says that the report itself met the criteria for destruction.
Mr. OBERSTAR. It didn't say it was shredded and you produced no evidence that it was shredded, and you are making an accusation of the Agency and of the people that I find unsubstantiated; and I don't think it is appropriate and it doesn't benefit the cause.
I have spent 15 years, off and on, on the East Coast Plan of the FAA. I have met with delegations all the way from Boston down through New Jersey, time and again. I have never found the FAA to lie about something. It may be inaccurate. They are torn in many different directions by the many different constituencies which you justifiably represent.
I have no quarrel with your effort to deflect noise from your constituency, but I don't think it is useful to make accusations of this kind.
Mr. FOSSELLA. With all due respect, Mr. Oberstar, I was lied to. I don't know what your relationship is of 15 years, and I respect it and respect your opinion, but you were not privy to the numerous conversations that I have had in my office on Staten Island and this is nothing new. I hate to say it. I think Congressman Franks alluded to it as well.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Our relationship with the FAA dates back many, many years regarding this matter, and frankly, as you can tell againonce again, every plane that departs from the south reaches at its lowest altitude over residential communities in Arlington and Mariners Harbor; and the day before they were supposed to implement a 260-degree departure plan that we were promisedand we were told in my office, to my face, that unless there was a safety concern, that departure plan would be implemented on a date certainwell, that was postponed after that meeting, and there was no evidence that there were any safety concerns. Indeed, they implemented it 2 months later.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Did you get an explanation of why they did not implement?
Mr. FOSSELLA. The best explanation that was offered was, frankly, that there were some glitches; but quite honestly, my observation is that there was political pressure from certain elected officials in New Jersey after meeting with the FAA. And that is no secret; that was reported.
Now, whether that was thewill they actually say on the record that was the reason? I would suggest probably not, but I have the ability to, I think, evaluate that situation and use my common sense to say exactly that was the.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Whether one is lied to or not is a matter that may come out in the course of this hearing, but you are, I assume, aware that there is a $9 million commitment of FAA funds to study of the redesign of the New York-New Jersey airspace and that the latest appropriation bill for fiscal 2000 not only puts the $6 million in the budget, but also directs that it cannot be reprogrammed for any other purpose. That didn't happen by divine intervention; that happened by political pressure.
There is political pressure in New York to stop the installation of a terminal weather radar Dopplerweather radar facility that had very, very important safety implications for LaGuardia and JFK. There is political pressure all over the place. You are putting one kind of political pressure on; Mr. Franks is putting on another kind. I assume the Senators from New Jersey and Senators from New York did other things as well. But that is why we shouldn't legislate airspace redesign.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 And that is why in so complex an airspacethere are 16 airports in the New York TRACON responsibility area. As Mr. Franks described, this is possibly the most complex, along with perhaps the southern California, TRACON airspace in the world; and as the FAA will show with arrival/departure charts, extraordinary complexity. Eight thousand operations a day in New York, New Jersey; and within a 10-mile radius of the World Trade towers, you have the three busiest airports in the world.
Relocating, redesignating that airspace is not an easy task and should not be done by legislation, but there are opportunities to make changes. With the new technology that we have today, the airspace thatairspace design presently in operation was done in a time when we didn't have the air traffic control technology available today, and I think that with the global positioning satellite, GPS, ASDE-3, ASR11 radar and other technology can be applied to the redesign of the routing system and we reduce it.
But as for 1980, there were only 204,000 operations at Newark and todayat the end of last year there were 462,000 operations at Newark. Aviation is growing all around the world. Noise is a problem that we have had to deal with.
My time has expired and I am.
Mr. FOSSELLA. If I might, Mr. Chairman, just respond to that.
To me, as someone who has lived in Staten Island my whole life and is fully cognizant of the number of airports and the planes taking off, if anything, there would be stronger reason to implement something like a straight-out departure because according to its own report, the FAAI am not making this upthe FAA in a 1980 report said it is the safest, most-efficient departure plan.
And you are talking about evaluating and spending resources, human and otherwise. They are reevaluating a plan called the ''over-the-ocean route'' whichagain by their reports, their words, not minewould have substantial adverse operational and safety impacts and would have complicated air traffic controller workload, would pose a significant safety concern, and would cause an average departure delay of 35 minutes per aircraft, which would exacerbate an already, I would suggest, troublesome commute and departure from Newark as it stands today.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. OBERSTAR. You are talking about a 1980 report on an experiment of 146 operations in 8 hours a day over a 4-day period, and today you are talking about an airport that has 100 operations an hour. They are not comparable.
I think the gentleman wouldwell, what is going to happen with or without the gentleman is the airspace redesign study. It is a 4-year program, and the appropriate place is to have input into that study as it goes forward. That is the appropriate way to deal with this.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. BASS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize, gentlemen. I have to leave to be at the Pentagon at 10:30 for a ceremony, but I would just like to place in the record, if I could, a couple of comments.
I think the problem here is departures, not approaches. Approaches are quieter than departures. I assume there have been changes in the population density of Elizabeth versus Staten Island today versus 1952, but I don't know. I would be interested to know what the FAA justification is for that jog, 30-degree jog to the south.
Clearly noise abatement procedures and quieter aircraft are one of the solutions to this problem. It is a complex problem, but I must admit with all due respect to you, Congressman Fossella, it probably is not an appropriate place to have a special legislative bill. But I appreciate the fact that you are concerned about this, and I certainly can understand why your constituents would have a significant problem with that kind of traffic going over the end of the district.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me preface my remarks by telling my friend and colleague that I understand his concerns and I understand why he would seek to do whatever he can on behalf of his constituents, but I am concerned that there are broader public policy implications as a result of what we would want, maybe individually, any one of us to see.
Let me just ask you three quick questions. Number one is, to your knowledge, has there been any crash from aircraft departing Newark on Staten Island as a result of this?
Mr. FOSSELLA. To my knowledge, no, buthowever, there have been plane parts that have fallen on Staten Island.
Mr. MENENDEZ. There have been no crashes, right?
Mr. FOSSELLA. To my knowledge, no.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Let me ask you this. You don't dispute that the study that you refer to in 1980 was a 4-day study encompassing about 146 flights? Is that fair to say?
Mr. FOSSELLA. Yes. And I believe it was done, if my recollection is correct, because of the anticipated increase in air traffic out of Newark; and it was an effort to find out how you can best alleviate delays at the same time.
Mr. MENENDEZ. You don't deny it was a 4-day study with 146 flights?
Mr. FOSSELLA. From what I have read, no.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Versus today where we are talking about over 1,000 flights a day 20 years later and a much more significant set of circumstances under which we make such studies.
Lastly, why would you in your legislation deny the FAA the obligation that we, as a Congress, have sought to place upon them to perform under the National Environmental Policy Act, in essence, to have an environmental impact study?
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. FOSSELLA. Can you repeat the last part?
Mr. MENENDEZ. Why would you in your legislation seek to prohibit the FAA from doing that which we, as a Congress, have wanted to do in all circumstances, which is to obey and follow the National Environmental Policy Act, in essence having an environmental policy impact statement?
Mr. FOSSELLA. Well, Mr. Menendez, we are using the FAA's own analysis. Again, I have to reiterate, I am not making these statements up. The FAA is saying that the straight-out departure is the safest, most efficient departure plan and that is what we are trying to achieve, quite candidly and honestly.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. Fossella, that begs the question why they should not follow the environmental impact statement. It wouldn't be because, in fact, the variation between the current set of circumstances and the straight-out set of circumstances would change the noise level fromand the DNL levels, the decibel levels of 70 to 75 for 200 persons on Staten Island to 9,000 in Elizabeth as a result ofthat is not why you would not want to have the environmental impact statement, is it?
Mr. FOSSELLA. No. Again, if I could just point out two things. One is, during that test of 146 planes, there was a total of one complaint that the FAA received; that is according to their report. So in terms of the air noise and distribution in that 4-day period, they received a total of one complaint and they acknowledged that it would have less impact.
Secondly, in terms ofagain, I have toto me, credibility means a lot, and I know to you, Mr. Menendez, it means a lot too. I received a letter January 25, 1999, from a Mr. Hatfield. We began preparation of a scope of work in the spring and requested bids during the summer months in accordance with our procurement process. The contract with our consultant to do the environmental assessment was awarded September 16, 1998. Contractual work began immediately following. The environmental assessment will be used to determine whether there are significant impacts related to the alternatives. As dictated by the Council on Environmental Quality and the Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. MENENDEZ. I hate to interrupt the gentleman. My time is limited. I am sure you can introduce the letter for the record, and I would have no objection to that. It has nothing to do with the straight-out departure process. The point is, we would have over 9,000 individuals affected and by such a change as you suggest, who would now be in the 70 to 75 DNL levels versus 200 on Staten Island, do you think, notwithstanding your desire to give relief to your people, that it is good public policy to affect 9,000 people among the highest levels of DNL to give 200 people relief?
Mr. FOSSELLA. We will never know that, Mr. Menendez. According to the FAA any test under 6 months.
Mr. MENENDEZ. If the gentleman would be responsive to my question. Do you think that is good public policy, yes or no?
Mr. FOSSELLA. We will never know. No, I do not believe that we should help one community at the expense of the other, but again, we will never know until they at least do a test.
And again, to address your earlier question, according to the FAA any test under 6 months requires an environmental assessment and not an environmental impact statement.
Mr. MENENDEZ. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. MENENDEZ. I would be happy to yield.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I just want to observe that the FAA has never said one departure procedure is safer than another. It has said that both straight out is safe and the turn is safe, and in fact when you do the down-river approach to National Airport, an aircraft must make eight turns, not just one or two. And for 47 years, 47 years, they have been making that left turn without incident.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, gentlemen, and I will ask unanimous consent that both Mr. Fossella and Mr. Franks, if they wish, be allowed to join us in the hearing and ask questions after committee members are allowed to ask questions.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. FRANKS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. We will now proceed with Panel number I. Panel number I is Ms. Arlene B. Feldman, who is the Regional Administrator for the Eastern Region of the Federal Aviation Administration. She is accompanied by Mr. Franklin Hatfield, Manager of the Air Traffic Division, the Eastern Division of the FAA; and Ms. Susan Baer, who is the General Manager of the New Jersey airports, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
We are very pleased to have both of you with us.
TESTIMONY OF ARLENE B. FELDMAN, REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR, EASTERN REGION, ACCOMPANIED BY FRANKLIN HATFIELD, MANAGER, AIR TRAFFIC DIVISION, EASTERN DIVISION, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; AND SUSAN M. BAER, GENERAL MANAGER, NEW JERSEY AIRPORTS, THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
Mr. DUNCAN. Ms. Feldman, you may begin your testimony.
Ms. FELDMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Lipinski, Mr. Oberstar and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear here this morning to discuss with the members of this subcommittee and other interested members of the Congress the Federal Aviation Administration's, FAA's, air traffic control of departing aircraft at Newark International Airport.
I am Arlene Feldman, the Regional Administrator of the FAA for the Eastern Region, and with me today is Mr. Franklin Hatfield, who is the Manager of the Air Traffic Division in the Eastern Region.
Almost 4 years ago to the day, I appeared before this subcommittee with former Administrator David Hinson, when he came before you to discuss the FAA's record of decision of the environmental impact statement on the expanded East Coast Plan, which we call the ''EECP for Air Traffic Management.'' I am pleased to have the opportunity to update the subcommittee on recent develops in air traffic management and, in particular, with regard to departures from Newark International Airport.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Let me begin with a brief review of the history. In the early 1980's, the FAA saw that it would be impossible for the then existing air traffic routes over the East Coast to handle the growing demand for airline travel. The advent of deregulation in 1978 brought explosive growth in air traffic. The biggest bottleneck in the East Coast system was the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. Needless to say, the bottlenecks at New York-New Jersey had a ripple effect throughout the entire national air traffic system. The EECP was developed to change the aircraft routes and air traffic procedures in a way that would permit each of the major New York-New Jersey airports to more efficiently handle air traffic. This was a very ambitious plan at that time, one of the most far-reaching changes the FAA ever made to the air traffic system.
With the implementation of the EECP, we saw dramatic effects in the airspace system: Delays were reduced, airlines were able to plan their flights more efficiently, and controllers found that the new air traffic procedures let them handle more traffic without compromising safety. However, the EECP also produced unavoidable consequences. These new air traffic routes began to take aircraft over parts of New Jersey, which, until 1987, had not experienced the air traffic associated with these new routes. As a result, communities throughout northern New Jersey began to experience increases in noise levels they found unacceptable.
Newark International Airport has three runwaysone east-west, runway 1129, and two parallel north-south runways, 22 left and right. Staten Island is south of the airport and there are communities such as the City of Elizabeth which are southwest. Since 1952, aircraft departing runway 22 have turned south to avoid overflying the City of Elizabeth. Since 1961, departures from Newark off runway 22 left and right have climbed to approximately 500 feet at which point the aircraft make a left turn heading 190 degrees. This departure route avoids overflying the densely populated areas of Elizabeth. This route passes over an industrial area located between the City of Elizabeth and a waterway known as the Arthur Kill and then over the northwest corner of Staten Island. As air traffic operations at Newark Airport have increased, residents of New York and New Jersey have been requesting a change to air traffic procedures to reduce noise in their communities.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Pursuant to the Aviation Safety Capacity Expansion Act of 1990, the FAA undertook an environmental impact statement, an EIS, to assess the effects of changes in aircraft flight patterns at altitudes of 3,000 feet above ground level caused by the implementation of the EECP over New Jersey. After an extensive and lengthy process of study, including opportunities for public comment for approximately 500 days and including a public hearing on Staten Island, the FAA took final action on the EIS by issuing a record of decision, ROD as we call it, on October 31, 1995. The FAA decided to continue the procedures of the EECP, but adopted a measure to reduce noise for residents of New Jersey. This mitigation measure called the Solberg Mitigation Proposal, was implemented in April 1996 and continues to be used for departures at Newark.
Even with the adoption of the EECP with the Solberg Mitigation Proposal, we know that citizens in communities in New Jersey and New York continue to experience levels of noise that they find unacceptable. In the record of decision, the FAA recognized the complexity of the airspace in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area and the need for a comprehensive solution. And we have charts that will show that complexity, as has already been mentioned.
When I was here in 1995, I stated that even with the decisions made with the EECP, we in the Eastern Region would continue to work with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the local communities to explore alternatives to reduce noise and revise air traffic procedures and routes. In addition to the Solberg Mitigation Proposal, in the record of decision, the FAA committed to undertake a follow-on regional study to address the metropolitan New York area.
Let me reiterate that Administrator Garvey and all of us in the Eastern Region are dedicated to working with the Port Authority to find a fair and balanced approach to address the issue of aircraft noise. But let me also state that noise abatement is a shared responsibility. The Port Authority has primary responsibility for abatement actions in the area surrounding Newark Airport, whereas our primary role is to assure the safety and efficiency of air traffic operations. In that regard, at the request of the Port Authority, we have taken some measures to test ways to alleviate aircraft noise.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 In 1996, based on a request from the Port Authority, a test over a 4-month period in 1993 and an environmental assessment, the FAA revised the standard instrument departure procedures for runway 22 left and right to implement a second turn to the right to a heading of 220 degrees at 2.3 nautical miles.
In 1998, again at the request of the Port Authority, the FAA tested a change in the current standard instrument departure. Working with the Port Authority, we recognized that just south of Newark Airport and the City of Elizabeth, there is a heavy industrial area over which we could direct aircraft. This would require a variation in the heading from 220 degrees to 260 degrees. We conducted a test of the 260-degree heading, we call it the 260-degree test, from March until September of 1998 followed by an environmental assessment. At the onset of the preparation of this environmental assessment, a variety of public agencies and other interested parties were notified of the proposed action and alternatives, and comments were requested.
Earlier this week, we released the conclusions of the environmental assessment. As a result of the analyses conducted and continued operational evaluation of the departure routing, it was determined that there was no significant environmental benefit derived from the alternative routing to 260 degrees. We have discontinued the environmental assessment because of the lack of operational benefit that would be derived by modifying the Newark procedure in the current overall configuration of airspace in the region.
At the same time that we began conducting the 260-degree test in April 1998, Administrator Garvey announced the National Airspace Redesign Project. As the Administrator testified before you last month, the National Airspace Redesign will be part of the FAA's efforts to improve air traffic management. The goals of the redesign project are to maintain and improve system safety, improve the efficiency of the air traffic management and reduce delays; in addition, to increase system flexibility and predictability, and seek to reduce adverse environmental effects on communities in and around our Nation's airports.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 While we expect that the complete redesign will take approximately 8 years, we anticipate that tangible benefits are expected in the eastern portion of the United States within 5 years. The most congested and complicated airspace is what we in the FAA refer to as the ''eastern triangle,'' this consists of most of the airspace east of the Mississippi River. The redesign project will also include analysis of the en route air traffic control centers that feed traffic into this area. Because this airspace poses the most challenges, it is the initial focus of our redesign efforts.
The New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Airspace Redesign Project will encompass the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas and will also include air traffic affecting Connecticut, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. There are over 8,000 flights a day into and out of the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, more than any other major metropolitan area in the United States, accommodating 300,000 passengers and 10,000 tons of cargo. One of our stated goals is to enhance the environment to a degree consistent with safety and efficiency with both noise abatement and improvements in air quality. Within this context, we intend to fully examine possible revisions to departure patterns at Newark, including an ocean routing concept for day and night traffic, as well as the straight-out departure concept.
As Administrator Garvey told you in her last appearance, in the Eastern Region we have already begun our community workshops in locations throughout the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, and we are holding these in order to provide a forum for the public involvement. We are sensitive to the concerns of the citizens living in and around Newark International Airport and we will continue to work in partnership with the Port Authority, with community leaders, and with you, the Members of Congress, to reach a balanced and fair approach to the issues at Newark; and we will look for every opportunity as we move forward with the redesign project to make things better for those citizens.
This concludes my statement, and both Mr. Hatfield and I will be happy to answer any questions that you or the other members of this subcommittee may have. Thank you very much.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Feldman.
Ms. BAER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee. Good morning. I am Susan Baer, General Manager of New Jersey airports for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In this role, I am directly responsible for the operation of Newark International Airport.
Consistent with its 1921 mandate, the Port Authority is committed to promoting and protecting commerce in the bistate port district. Over the next 5 years, we will invest approximately $2.5 billion in improvements to Newark's airport infrastructure in order to meet the demand for safe, secure, and efficient air travel well into the 21st century.
Today, Newark International Airport is an important economic engine for the New York-New Jersey region, generating over $11 billion in annual economic activity and more than 110,000 jobs. Unfortunately, success has its price. Demand for Newark's runways, taxiways and gates often exceeds capacity, causing delays that cost the airlines in excess of $120 million annually in the aircraft direct operating costs alone. These delays degrade the quality of service we provide to air travelers and disrupt the flow of commerce.
Most of the investments we and the air carriers are making are intended to address capacity issues whether they pertain to how the passengers get to the airport, how well they are accommodated in the terminals, or how long it takes for them to get airborne. Even as the Port Authority aggressively pursues airport improvements, we remain sensitive to the environmental impact on our neighbors. The challenge is to balance what often appear to be opposing goals, maximum operational efficiency and minimum community noise exposure.
For example, the existing departure procedure from Newark's runway 22, which involves a left turn upon takeoff to avoid downtown Elizabeth, New Jersey; and a subsequent right turn to avoid residential areas on the north shore of Staten Island, as you have heard this morning, is designed to expose a minimum number of people to significant levels of aircraft noise. However, the procedure requires all departing aircraft to fly a common path for nearly 3 miles.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Consequently, after each departure, the air traffic controller must delay subsequent takeoffs until a safe following distance can be maintained. Thus, the common takeoff path abates noise exposure, but produces less than an optimal departure rate.
Similarly, the single-path, straight-out climb, as proposed today, would also restrict the takeoff rate somewhat. On the whole, however, the straight-out climb would be operationally advantageous relative to the existing departure procedure in that it eliminates circuitous maneuvering close into the airport, facilitates a greater rate of climb and provides additional separation from other traffic.
Advantages notwithstanding, a 1995 environmental assessment showed that the straight-out climb would expose a large number of Elizabeth residents to significant noise increase. Today, that impact may be mitigated to a large extent by the use of quieter stage 3 aircraft. Please note in compliance with Federal law, the airlines must operate an all-stage 3 fleet by the end of this year.
The Port Authority remains concerned that the proposed straight-out departure procedure will simply serve to shift the burden of aircraft noise exposure entirely over one community. While the Port Authority does not advocate the straight-out procedure, we do believe that a window of opportunity is opening to address both aircraft delays and noise.
The FAA is currently undertaking a comprehensive redesign of the New York-New Jersey airspace for air traffic control, as Arlene has just noted. Taking advantage of satellite-based navigation, communication surveillance systems, flight management systems, and other available and developing technologies, the FAA will be able to design precise departure paths from our runways. These takeoff routes could be used to improve operating rates and to minimize noise impact in densely populated areas.
Rather than have the FAA adopt discrete changes in the routing of aircraft in our highly dense and complex regional air system and redirect design resources to such a task, we strongly encourage the FAA to press ahead on the total redesign effort. The FAA should evaluate and quantify within the context of the airspace redesign the operational and environmental impacts of precisely defined takeoff routes.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Even as we enter the new millennium, community exposure to aircraft noise remains the single greatest obstacle to the growth of aviation and to the jobs and economic prosperity it brings. While the FAA's airspace redesign aims to create a safer, more efficient infrastructure for air traffic control, the aircraft noise issue must also be effectively addressed.
The Port Authority stands ready to commit its expertise and resources to assist the FAA in this monumental effort. We also look forward, Mr. Chairman, to working with you, the committee and the members of the New York and New Jersey delegations in addressing these and future aviation issues. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Baer.
I am going to yield my time for questions to Mr. Fossella.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Feldman, thank you very much for your testimony. Do you dispute the claim that the straight-out departure of Newark is the safest, most efficient departure plan?
Ms. FELDMAN. I will let Mr. Hatfield answer part of that, but as a pilot, I can tell you that we would not allow any approaches or departures if they were unsafe.
Mr. FOSSELLA. My question is very simple. I think it is a yes or no. Is the straight-out departure plan the safest departure plan from Newark Airport?
Ms. FELDMAN. No.
Mr. FOSSELLA. So you are disputing your own internal study in 1980 that said that the advantages of straight-out climbs to use as a more direct flight path to the en route course eliminates the requirement for a 30-degree maneuver at the critical takeoff stage of flight and increase fuel efficiency? You disputeso you dispute that 1980 report that says the straight-out departure is the safest plan?
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Ms. FELDMAN. That 1980 study is no longer applicable. There are changes in conditions. Where perhaps at that point in timeand I was not there in 1980 to knowperhaps in that time at least we thought it was the safest route. Things have changed drastically not only in technology, but in procedures, in the way we fly aircraft and that's why my answer was no, because it would not be the same situation as it is now, and it is very difficult to compare the number of flights that were tested and the kind of equipment of those aircraft that were flying at that time with today. There is no comparison.
Mr. FOSSELLA. If I heard Ms. Baer's testimony, she believes did I hear you correctly, Ms. Baer, about the straight-out departure? You feel it would be better from an operational point of view?
Ms. BAER. It has the possibility of reducing aircraft delays.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Mr. Hatfield, do you disputedo you think the straight-out departuredo you agree with her?
Mr. HATFIELD. I agree with her, and I apologize. In my mind this is not a simple yes or no answer; it is far more complicated than that. Right this moment, while we are sitting here, there are aircraft that are turning and climbing and descending as they are doing there. To say that that aircraft is in a less safe environment than an aircraft that is flying in a straight line, I think would be a misrepresentation of reality. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to say that a straight-out departure would be more safe than something that has been in effect from 1952.
Mr. FOSSELLA. I find it bizarre that a departure plan that causes planes to bank 30 degrees and fly back is somehow less or more safe than a departure plan where the planes just take off and climb to an altitude.
Mr. HATFIELD. Congressman Fossella, that departure pattern that you described was designed by a board of safety experts following the 1952 crashes in the City of Elizabeth. Aviation experts designed that.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. FOSSELLA. Again, I am not making this stuff up. Do you think this stuff falls from the clouds? Your own FAA experts, your top people have determined that the straight-out departureso what has changed since 1980?
Mr. HATFIELD. I would like to address that 1980 study.
There are lot of things in thereI can't defend it. I wasn't there when they did this study. That was done at the New York TRACON. In its previous life it was called the ''common eye of room'' or the ''common eye.'' The people's names on there are the names of two staff specialists who were working at the facility at the time.
There are many things that are very dated from that 1980 report. An example is their statement that from an environmental perspective, this is not an issue. Well, they base that upon 146 flights over a 4-day time period 8 hours total. The analysis that was done, the environmental assessment that was done was, how many telephone calls did we receive? They got one, and it was from a hospital in Elizabeth.
I would think that since 1980 until now, our ability to environmentally assess the impact of any air change as mandated by Congress has matured significantly.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Mr. Hatfield, if I might, we spoke to one of the gentlemen that retired from the FAA. He says that the commission was instituted by a supervisor at the FAA, not some lackey staff.
Mr. HATFIELD. First off, sir, I don't think the staff people are lackey at any of our facilities.
Mr. FOSSELLA. I don't mean to be pejorative to the staff. You give the impression it was just a bunch ofa few guys who felt like having a good time and did a straight-out departure, tested the straight-out departure.
Mr. HATFIELD. I wouldn't undermine their position.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Let me just change the subject, because I am not getting anywhere on this one.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Is there anything that prevents the FAA from implementing a test of the straight-out departure immediately?
Mr. HATFIELD. This perspectivelet me give you a simple answer to that.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Yes or no would suffice.
Mr. HATFIELD. If we wanted.
Mr. FOSSELLA. So there is nothing to prevent the test of 3 or 4 days?
Mr. HATFIELD. What we would have to do is, we would have to weigh the factors and make a decision as an agency, do the operational benefits we gain, do the efficiency benefits we gain, far outweigh the environmental consequences of that action? That is the scale that we would make it.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Is there anything that prevents you from implementing a test of the straight-out departure?
Mr. HATFIELD. As of this point in time, it would be my assessment.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Just yes or no, Mr. Hatfield.
Mr. HATFIELD. Yesthat the environmental consequences would far outweigh the operational efficiencies we would gain. In my mind, that would be a showstopper, Congressman.
Mr. FOSSELLA. The environmentals would prevent you from even testing the pattern?
Mr. HATFIELD. I would be hard-pressed to defend a test, yes, sir.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Ms. Baer, your 1995 study that you cited, was that an actual test or was that a simulation?
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Ms. BAER. It was a simulation and that is the same test that Ms. Feldman noted in her testimony, that led to the changes in the climb; where previous to that, I believe the turn was at 3 miles, and it was pulled back to 2.3 miles, resulting in significant noise relief for a large number of Staten Island residents without any impact on residents of the City of Elizabeth. And so once that simulation was done and that evidence was producedTom tells me we did have a test of the turn, but.
Mr. FOSSELLA. How long was that test?
Ms. BAER. I don't recall. About 8 months.
Mr. FOSSELLA. What I find again bizarrepardon my angst over this, but you contest all these other departure plans, and you can't test what I believe and what your own FAA believed years ago, and I think you are disputing it nowthe safest, most efficient departure plan, a straight-out departure.
Ms. Baer, again, you spoke to a window of opportunity that exists because of the stagethe aircraft. Is there any effort to reevaluate that simulation and actually test to determine whether there is going to be an adverse impact by a straight-out departure?
Mr. HATFIELD. We conducted that. The environmental assessment for the 260-degree turn at your request, Congressman, that was included as alternative four. I have a chart here.
Mr. FOSSELLA. I am talking about a straight-out departure.
Mr. HATFIELD. We included that as alternative four. I have data that was provided by the contractor if you would like to discuss it. I have a chart here that depicts the changes in the noise contours.
Mr. FOSSELLA. I have seen the charts. We have hadas you know, Mr. Hatfield and Ms. Feldman, with all due respect, we have had all these conversations back and forth. One of the things I must confess, and that is the over-the-ocean plan, are you disputing your own assessment, the FAA's assessment years ago that it was unsafe?
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Are you disputing that as well?
Mr. HATFIELD. I think what you have to do is, you have to take the report that you are citing which was the record of decision for the expanded East Coast Plan. If you remember, that decisionthe FAA only assessed the ocean routing in regards to a route that went from Newark to the ocean. The true, final result of that test was, the result of that evaluation was that there would be approximately 56 conflict points if we did not do a major airspace modification and change the routes from LaGuardia and Kennedy.
Therefore, it was determined as a result of that that it would be more appropriate to consider an ocean routing in the context of a major airspace redesign. That is right out of the document that you are quoting from. There were conflict points, and it said, therefore, it is going to have to be a major redesign for the ocean routing even to be a viable option. That is why we have included it as one of the options to be examined in the airspace redesign that we are currently doing, as well as the straight out.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Fossella, excuse me. I have to go to Mr. Menendez at this point.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me ask you a series of questions, Mr. Hatfield.
First of all, I want to clear up something because I think it goes towards credibility. Did you, or to your knowledge, did anyone at the Agency shred this 1980 report? When you responded, what was the basis of your response?
Mr. HATFIELD. Congressman, I appreciate the opportunity to address that straight on. The fact of the matter is, if I found anyone at the FAA that intentionally destroyed documents, I would remove them. The fact of the matter is, we responded to the request for the FOIA and said that the FAA policy is to destroy documents. We have a rule; it is 3 years you retain documents. Then you destroy them.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 This would meet the classification of that. We had no copy of a 1980 internal New York TRACON report. In an effort to be totally responsive to the question, we said we do not have that document. As a matter of fact, the FAA routinely, in accordance with government regulations, shreds the paperwork after a number of years. This would fit that category.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Let me ask you this. There is a difference, I would assumeMr. Fossella continues to harp upon this 1980 study. There is a difference, I would assume, between a 4-day study with 146 flights versus what we now do in terms of a study, especially at a location which has over 1,000 flights a day. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes, sir, that is a fair statement.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Could you quantify for the committee what some of the factors are, differences that one must take into consideration?
Mr. HATFIELD. The very basis of the environmental assessment that was conducted at that point in time was based on how many telephone calls did you get. I think we are far more sophisticated now with the integrated noise modeling capability that we have, with the congressional mandate that we follow. The National Environmental Policy Act, the guidelines are very clear, very specific, as to what we have to do when we consider taking an action that is going to have environmental consequences.
In this particular case, our initial draft environmental assessment indicates significant environmental consequences that we have to weigh.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Can you quantify that last statement for me? Is it fair to say that under the present circumstances that there are 200 individuals in Staten Island who suffer at the DNL levels of 70 to 75?
Mr. HATFIELD. Those residents were both in Elizabeth and Staten Island. That is a total number at that point.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. MENENDEZ. OK. So that is a total number. And is it also fair to say that if we were to adopt Mr. Fossella's straight-out flight route, that over 9,000 individuals would suffer at the DNL levels of 70 to 75 ?
Mr. HATFIELD. That is correct, sir, in the City of Elizabeth.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Is it the policy of the FAA to extend more noise to more people or to try to reduce the noise for the greatest number of people?
Mr. HATFIELD. It is the policy of the FAA to never simply shift noise, and our mandate is to attempt to reduce noise wherever possible.
Mr. MENENDEZ. To your knowledge, is it not true that the higher the DNL level, the more consequence beyond just someone's peace of mind, but the consequence to human health, particularly in the context of hearing, takes place?
Mr. HATFIELD. To put it in something that is easily digestible, 65 DNL is about the sound of my voice right now. 75 DNL is someone yelling, and it is exactly twice as loud as my speaking; 85 DNL you would have to scream to hear me, and 95 DNL you cannot hear anything else. When you talk about anything above 65 DNL, you are going to get significant noise.
Mr. MENENDEZ. May I ask you, does the FAA have demographic information that it could share with the committee as it relates to the alteration of the present flight plan? For example, if wethe present flight plan in the context of Staten Island, does it go over schools, hospitals, that type of institutions?
Mr. HATFIELD. No, it does not.
Mr. MENENDEZ. What would happen to the alteration of the flight plan if it were to go straight out in the context of the City of Elizabeth and its environs in the context of schools, hospitals, and what not ?
Mr. HATFIELD. My recollection, there were two hospitals and approximately five or six schools that would be in the contour, the noise contour.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. MENENDEZ. And they would fall in these DNL levels of 70 to 75?
Mr. HATFIELD. Above 65, a portion would be in the 70 to 75.
Mr. MENENDEZ. One of the purposes of having the National Environmental Policy Act enforced, is it not, for the purposes of ensuring that when we make a decision, we understand the environmental impact upon the consequence of such a change?
Ms. FELDMAN. Yes, sir, that is correct.
Mr. MENENDEZ. And that environmental impact, obviously, in the context of flight passes air noise to a large degree?
Ms. FELDMAN. Yes, it is.
Mr. MENENDEZ. The consequence of the increased decibels of air noise upon the citizens on whom that flight path would impact?
Ms. FELDMAN. That is correct.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Is it also fair to say that while there is a suggestion that going straight out might be, in some respects, more efficient, that that would have to be studied in the context of spacing?
Are there not different types of aircraft?
Mr. HATFIELD. That, Congressman, is one of the considerations we have to take a look at. There has been a vast change in the fleet mix, the type of aircraft that are used at Newark Airport since 1980, in addition to the volume. Now we have aircraft, as you are very familiar with, a heavy category of aircraft that requires increased spacing.
There are a lot more regional jets, the smaller aircraft operating in and out of Newark. They are all required to fall into a single line as they are leaving. There is the potential of increased delays as a result of that. I am not saying that that is empirical data, but that does indeed need to be studied.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. MENENDEZ. Lastly, I heard Mr. Fossella ask you, well, we are testing all these other plans. What other plans are we testing, live testing right now?
Mr. HATFIELD. In my tenure up there, in the last 3 years, the only test we had was the 260 test. The preliminary data going into the 260 test indicated that Staten Island would experience a reduction in aircraft noise, that the placement of the aircraft down in an industrial quarter could result in the citizens of New Jersey getting a reduction in aircraft noise; so for that reason, we felt, after we briefed the public, Members of Congress, that it was worth a shot. Let's see if we can actually reduce the aircraft noise. After the fact, it doesn't appear that it was as successful as we had hoped it would be.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Lastly, let me just ask you with reference to what I believe is ultimately our mutual effort, Mr. Fossella's desire, my desire to relieve ourselves from the straightjacket that we are in in the most traveled airspace in the countryand I know Mr. Fossella likes to come to our airport, and we appreciate his businessis it not fair to say that iffirst of all, a two-part question:
Number one, live tests obviously have live consequences. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes, it is fair.
Mr. MENENDEZ. You are actually going to do the test, and the 9,000 people, you say, who are going to be affected are going to hear those greater decibels. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes, it is a fair statement.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Lastly, is it not fair to say that you have a certain cadre of talent to do the National Airspace Redesign, if you shift that talent to do this live test, that you delay the National Airspace Redesign, particularly in our region?
Mr. HATFIELD. That is absolutely true.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. MENENDEZ. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. We have 7 minutes left on a vote. We will have to break at this time and come back as soon as we finish this vote. Thank you very much. We will be in recess.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let's go ahead and call this hearing back to order again, 10 after.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Menendez, did you have any other questions you wished to ask?
Mr. MENENDEZ. Not of this panel, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right.
Mr. Fossella, I did stop you. Do you have any other questions to ask of this panel?
Mr. FOSSELLA. Just briefly, Mr. Chairman. Other than feeling like Daniel in a lion's den, it appears today, a couple of quick questions.
One, I am just trying to reconcile. You say that the straight-out departure is not the safest plan yet you are going to consider studying it. Not to suggest, obviously, that I don't support it. I just want to remind everyone here that, like Mr. Menendez said, and Mr. Franks, we all have a common goal.
Quite honestly, I think that part of our frustration is a reflection, not perhaps of personally what we are feeling, because we don't live under the barrage of airplanes taking place; but the residents, the people that I happen to represent, and if I were your Member of Congress, I think you would expect me to do all I could possibly do to fight for you, and that is what I am doing. So when I hear and attempt in good faith to deal with the FAAor any Federal agency, for that matterand we are led astray, well, yeah, I suffer in a way.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 But it is the people that suffer; just remember that. And I think you try to, but just remember that, please.
So when you say that the straight-out departure is not safe, yet you are going to study it, then why? Has it become an exercise in futility? Are you just doing it to placate certain people?
You have a mission. The mission of the FAA, as I understand it, is large; and you have a tremendous responsibility, but primarily it is to ensure the safety of the air passengers.
Mr. Hatfield, you said earlier there is an environmental assessment, environmental evaluation that, in your judgment, would prevent you from implementing a test of a straight-out departure. Bear in mind, if I am not mistaken, the climb would be much greater for a straight-out departure, greaterhigher altitude at a greater rate of speed, correct?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes. I can give you empirical data on that if you care to discuss it.
Mr. FOSSELLA. I would like that, but also wherein is the authorityI am just curious if you can cite it to me, if you have it, or if you can provide it to me. Wherein is the authority where the environmental, quote, unquoteI don't want to put words in your mouth, but ''the environmental aspects of the straight-out departure plan trump what could be sort of operational or efficiency''?
Mr. HATFIELD. I will get you that particular citation. I don't have it in front of me now, but I will provide that to your office.
[The information received follows:]
The citation requested is: 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508, Section 1508.4, and FAA Order 1050.1D, paragraph 32.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2
Mr. FOSSELLA. I appreciate that.
For example, and then, last, I willMr. Chairman, there was, several months agomaybe just trying in many different waysMs. Garvey, we met with I don't know how many months ago, but I suggested as an alternativeand, Mr. Menendez, I think, and for those who can appreciate it, the New Jersey Turnpike corridor, or just to the east of the Turnpike, which is primarily industrial. The Turnpikeobviously, nobody lives on the Turnpike, the last I checked, and most planes land, coming in from the south land in that corridor; and I was told, again face-to-face, well, that is a good idea. We are going to look into that. I have heard nothing but silence as to that, quote, unquote, ''good idea.'' .
Are you aware of any study whatsoever as to whether that is a possibility?
Mr. HATFIELD. I would like to break that silence now. In the environmental assessment, that exact proposal, the straight out basically goes over top of the New Jersey Turnpike. I say basically because it is virtually impossible to have an aircraft snaking, following a road, as its making its arrival or departure from an airport. If you look at the straight-out proposal, you can see that the vast majority of that overlies the Jersey Turnpike so that has been evaluated to the best of our aeronautical ability to evaluate it. We do have the noise contours.
I would like to address a few of the questions you asked me. I do have the noise contours here. You said, what evaluation or environmental evaluation analysis have you done? The data is here; it is on the a board. I am more than prepared to discuss it, if you care to discuss it.
As far as the altitude of the aircraft, the altitude of the aircraft currently as they make the right turn from 190 to 220 that is catching the northwest corner of Staten Island, we went to the actual air traffic controllers in the facility this morning, and those aircraft were at approximately 1,500 feet when they are making that turn. Conversely, for the aircraft that would climb straight out over the City of Elizabeth, which is considerably closer to the end of the runway, the aircraft, the estimate is between 500 and 800 feet as they climb over the City of Elizabeth. So there is a significant difference in the altitude there.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 While it is true they would be able to climbbe cleared to an initial altitude of 5,000 off the end of the runway, whereas today they are only cleared to 2,500, it is also important to note that as soon as they make that right turn from 190 to 220, they are told to continue climbing to 5,000. So as a practical matter, aircraft are not stopped at 2,500. They do climb straight to 5,000, even making that turn.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Again, that seems to conflict with the tests from 1980, correct? Let me justone last question and one last point.
That is, the environmental assessment on the 260-degree turn, now granted, it didn'tit perhaps didn't end up as something that was as beneficial to the people of Staten Island, at least as we thought, but did you promise to perform and complete an environmental assessment?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes. The process as I understand it, Congressman, is that you do an environmental assessment, which I have in front of you. And as regards timing of the release of it, I have had this environmental assessment for a couple of weeks. We were prepared to release it to the public.
The Regional Administrator, Ms. Feldman, a very good catch on her part, said we have an obligation to notify Members of Congress before we go to the public with the feedback on it. So that was the timing issue. We felt it very important that you have the data in front of you before this hearing. So rather than trying to be a maneuver behind you, we were trying to be very upfront about it. But once we get an environmental assessment, it gives me the preliminary data to make an analysis.
Do I want to continue and complete a full-blown environmental impact study if I intend to implement this? The answer to that is no. The environmental assessment shows me there is no environmental benefit to me doing this, no operational benefit. From Staten Island, Congressman, I only received three comments on the test. One comment said, I don't want you to do anything with Staten Island; I want you to go straight ahead. The other two were from yourself and Mr. Molinari. So those are the three comments we received from your district.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 It is important to note that we received a lot of comments from New Jersey. Every one of them was negative. As a matter of fact, the New Jersey congressional delegation chastised me for even continuing the test. So there is a lot of negativity around that test
Mr. FOSSELLA. Just to respond, Mr. Hatfield. One, on the response, because the people of Staten Island have given up, almost.
Mr. HATFIELD. That is unfortunate.
Mr. FOSSELLA. It is unfortunate, and I don't blame them. That is why we are trying to fight the good fight here. Not to give up.
But in terms ofagain, it is not just a coincidence. You have had the report. You promise in your letter an environmental assessment to be forwarded to us, and 2 days before this hearing you send us a letter. We still don't have the environmental assessment. Is there no end? Is there no.
I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Fossella.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Feldman, Mr. Hatfield, thank you very much for your testimony and for very professional work that you have undertaken on this matter and have done for many years.
Ms. Baer, I'm sorry I was absent for your testimony, although I have read over your submitted document you have provided for the committee.
Let me once again observe that these airspace redesign issues are among the most complex, fraught with emotional overtone issues that our Nation's airspace management agency has to deal with. They are not easy. Whether in this setting, Logan Airport, the Southern California TRACON, O'Hare, even the most recently built airport in the United States, Denver, which has 30 square miles of space and the airport is 35 miles from the city. It is an expedition to get out to that airport, and there is still one person out there complaining it has got an unacceptable level of noise.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 We are now engaged in a great contest between the United States and Europe, Mr. Chairman, over a ruling by the European Parliament that proposes to limit the entry or prohibit the entry into the European airspace of U.S. Stage 3 hushkitted reengined aircraft. This is a global problem, and I reiterate my opening comment, is that legislation cannot resolve, cannot be allowed to resolve these matters. If we follow that pattern, we will legislate every airport in America from the Congress. That wouldn't be good for aviation.
The gentleman from New York has a legitimate concern expressed by his constituents. We do not minimize that concern in the least. We cannot eliminate noise in these highly densely populated areas, can minimize the impact, maybe rotate it, as has been tried. That simply widens the number of objectors. So you have got a little bit of noise today, and then this group gets a little bit of noise tomorrow, and then you have got everybody mad at you.
But there are some things that can be done, although, as Cardinal Neumann observed, we must discern the end in every beginning and the origin in every end. The origin of this problem was one aircraft a month crashing into Elizabeth. We say all of that was 1951, December, and January of 1952, but that airport was shut down for 4 months. That is also unprecedented.
But two separate studies examined the problem and came separately without talking to each other to the same conclusion, that you need to reconfigure this airspace for the safest possible departure.
And then you have other changes that have occurred. There are population shifts that have occurred under the straight-out departure route. There has been a growth in densely populated area, apartment dwellers, that number substantially greaterI don't know what the proportion might bethan those that live in the district of the gentleman from New York.
It is not good noise policy. It's not good airspace management policy to shift noise. I think you said it at the outset, the objective is to reduce noise on everyone; and in this airspace redesign I think there is a way to accomplish that objective.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 But I must say that, having read the document that the gentleman from New York submitted, the document of the 1980 4-day test by air traffic controllers concludes, quote, the committee finds that this report offers significant justification for the immediate adoption of straight-out climbs off runway 22 L/R at Newark. It does not anywhere say that this is the safest way to do this.
That is not a fair representation of the study. The fact is both straightfrom the standpoint of safety, a straight-out climb and the current configuration are safe. And as I said earlier, for 47 years the current configuration has been used without incident. So we are really dealing with noise as an issue, and the first question is the number ofdo you have a figure on the number of or percentage of aircraft operating at Newark that at the end of this year will be stage 3 compliant?
Ms. BAER. It will be a hundred percent.
Mr. OBERSTAR. It will be a hundred percent compliant. If you are not, then those carriers cannot operate those aircraft unless they get some sort of waiver. So that is 65 DNL. And, as I look at this, there is a rather considerable difference in the charts that you have submitted, a considerable difference in the number of people affected by stage 1, 75 -DNL; stage 2, 70, 75; and the 65 -DNL of stage 3. So the amount of noise will be reduced. That still doesn't help people who don't want any noise at all but on the same token like to fly.
The noise doesn't make any difference to people when they are flying. It does when they are on the ground and hear the noise. That is a dilemma all over America.
But is it not correct that the current airspace configuration is based on -VOR to -VOR communication of ground-based air navigation management and that with DGPSand, by the way, the first -DGPS flight was into Newark from National Airport, FAA sanction flight, not a test flight. It was done aboard Continental, if I recall rightly, which has 55 percent or so of the operations at Newark. You can take advantage of latitude and longitude management possibilities and therefore take advantage of differing wind presence and both improve safety and reduce noise and improve fuel efficiency of operations; is that correct, Mr. Hatfield?
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. HATFIELD. Sir, those are all correct statements. It is our hope that in the airspace redesign we will be able to take advantage of the FMS, the -GPS technologies in the future and do away with some of the patterns that exist right now. The more flexibility we have, the greater our ability in the immediate vicinity of airports to get departure aircraft higher quicker and keep arriving aircraft higher longer.
I would be less than candid and honest with this panel if I did not tell you that we are not going to eliminate aircraft noise at Newark. As long as there are airplanes, there will be noise. But we will seek every opportunity to mitigate that noise by taking advantage of some of these technologies that you have described to allow us to adjust the flows of traffic around Newark.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Keep in mind and all airport neighbors must keep in mind that stage 3 is not the end and the final word on noise abatement, that we are going to engage in ICAOwe, the United States, are going to engage in the ICAO, the world communication community in a design of a stage 4 standard that will apply to newly manufactured aircraft and ultimately lead to the phaseout of stage 3 aircraft.
When the FAA adopted the East Coast Plan, the ocean routing was rejected because of operational restrictions; is that correct?
Mr. HATFIELD. That is correct.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Because it would limit departures from Newark for up to 35 minutes and would require threading southbound departures from Newark through airspace designed for LaGuardia and Kennedy?
Mr. HATFIELD. That is correct.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Now, you are saying that, in the redesign, you will include consideration of ocean routing. Is there something different or is this again a reconsideration based on new technology available to accommodate ocean routing?
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. HATFIELD. That is a very good question, sir. The study that was done for the environmental East Coast Plan did not take into considerationwell, it was limited in scope. It did not take into consideration the fact that you would have to redesign the LaGuardia arrival and departure flows, the Kennedy arrival and departure flows and the Philadelphia traffic that flies along the coast. It was not a white paper approach. It was, can you get to the ocean and back basically the way the flows are today?
And, quite candidly, the answer was no. There is going to be approximately 55 points of direct conflict between an ocean routing and the flows to those other airports. For that reason, the delays would be incurred with the slow aircraft following the fast aircraft, and that has gotten worse since then, too, by the way.
What this airspace redesign does, it gives us a white paper approach. We have nothing preconceived. We start at the end of the runway and work our way out. The East Coast Plan started in the sky and worked its way down only to 3,000 feet. We are starting completely opposite of that. We are starting at the end of the runway with a piece of white paper and can I aeronautically design a route that would get you from Newark out over the ocean taking into consideration Kennedy, LaGuardia and Philadelphia flows. I think aeronautically that is possible.
What would the cost be? That is what the airspace redesign study is going to show me. That is what has changed.
Mr. OBERSTAR. If I were a resident in the area, I would be delighted that you are starting from ground zero and working up; and, as an aviation professional observer, I am delighted that you are taking this approach. I think it is fair, it is responsible, and it's reasonable.
Mr. HATFIELD. Everything we are doing about this airspace redesign is a little bit different than the way we have done business in the past. We are out meeting with the public right now. We have a series of meetings that has been going on for 2 months, one of which was held in Congressman Fossella's district 2 weeks ago where we are asking the public, before we have drawn one single line, what is it that you want us to consider in this airspace redesign that has nothing to do with NEPA.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 It is simply we need to do business that way. That is the right way to do business. We are going to do that, and we are going to have design options and then go back and meet with the same public and show them what the options are. There is nothing being done in the dead of night. It is all upfront, and we want input and participation.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Not only is the airspace complex, but the mix of aircraft is complex as well.
You have mentioned the growth of commuter traffic into Newark. That is part of the hub and spoke aviation system. That phenomenon is occurring all over America, but when it gets into, as we learned in our hearing on delays a few weeks ago, when you get into the terminal control area, then you have slower-moving aircraft that necessarily requires air traffic controllers to have greater distance entrail for arrivals and that slows down air traffic.
Mr. HATFIELD. That is a fact.
Mr. OBERSTAR. It also means that noise continues a longer period of time on approach. It may also mean longer period of time noise on departure. And thatand then the weight of aircraft. What is the percentage of wide-bodies operating out of Newark?
Ms. BAER. About 15 percent right now. The forecast is it is going to grow.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Is that international traffic?
Ms. BAER. It is international traffic and transcontinental primarily.
Mr. OBERSTAR. What is the number of 727s operating out ofdo you know?
Ms. BAER. It is largely cargo operations of 727s. I don't know the percentage, what it is now. It is not very high.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. OBERSTAR. Your departure banks are the standard, heaviest 7 -a.m., midday.
Ms. BAER. Probably 6:00 to, these days, maybe 10:00 in the morning and then again in the afternoon as the European traffic comes in and then turns around and goes back out. Our afternoon peak probably goes from about 2:00 to about 10:00 at night.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, I think just those considerations show the complexity of what the FAA has to deal with.
One final observation and that is that the gentleman from New York said that he was visited by the FAA. I am not sure who was in that meeting and assured that he wouldthat there would be a test undertaken, and then a little while later was told that after meeting with the same FAA personnel and the governor of New Jersey, congressional delegation, they changed their mind, and they weren't going to do this. And he, rightly, on the base of that representation, feels that he was not treated fairly. Are you aware of such meetings?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes. Thank you for an opportunity to respond to that.
I was the FAA representative that visited. I did freely admit I made the statement the only reason I will not start the test is for safety considerations. I admit I made that statement.
Subsequent to that statement, the meeting was held in New Jersey, which Senator Torricelli was one of the participants. And it was debriefed, the New Jersey congressional delegation. I think this was the latter part of December. The test was scheduled to begin January 1.
At that meeting, the Senator asked me three specific questions. One is, what empirical data do I have that I am going to use to compare before the test to during the test? What computer data do I have? What empirical data?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I, quite frankly, did not have a great answer for that question.
The second question he asked me, in the EECP had we fully complied with the legal requirement to implement the Solberg mitigation which, as you remember from that, as we take aircraft westbound, had we legally complied? There was the question. Had we done that?
I couldn't answer that. I am an air traffic controller. I am not a lawyer.
The third question is, what legal authority do I have to even conduct the test?
Once again, I am a lawyer.
I advised headquarters of the issues that had arisen at that meeting. Headquarters said we have to postpone the test to such a time till we can answer the Senator's valid questions and concerns.
A Senator from any State could have asked me those questions. It could have been Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania. Those were fair questions I did not have answers to. That was the reason for the delay.
I would never have delayed it except for safety. I was upfront, and that was my position, that when this occurred, the decision was made to delay the test, not cancel the test. The decision was we are going to delay it until we have these answers.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Did you notify Mr. Fossella?
Mr. HATFIELD. Personally. Personally. I had a meeting with the Congressman in his office.
Mr. OBERSTAR. It doesn't seem appropriate to characterize your representation as lying?
Mr. HATFIELD. That is a determination the Congressman is going to have to make, I am afraid.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. OBERSTAR. I don't think that is appropriate. He is correct that there was a representation made, a certain course of action. That course of action was changed. He is correct there was intervention by others.
And I will be glad to yield to the gentleman.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Briefly, Mr. Oberstar, with all due respect, this has been the 15th or so time, if not more, that we have gone down this path. So I will stand by what I believe to be true, and you are obviously entitled to say your opinion. It doesn't take away from the fact that, because of a meeting of the FAAand FAA held in New Jersey subsequent to a meeting and the commitment that was made to me and the people of Staten Island that, but for safety considerations, that plan would be implemented on January 1. There would not be a delay. There was a delay.
Mr. HATFIELD. And I did make that statement.
Mr. OBERSTAR. In any event, this test is going to be undertaken?
Mr. HATFIELD. Yes.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Mr. Oberstar, if I might, it was implemented, and that is the environmental assessment that he was referring to. So it was implemented and completed.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I think it is a tempest in a teapot.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
I will ask just a couple of questions.
Ms. Baer, tell us some of the things that the Port Authority has done or is doing to help mitigate the noise effect on the communities there, and are you working primarily with the FAA or are you getting cooperation from the airlines? Is there more the airlines could do?
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Ms. BAER. I think we are getting cooperation from both the FAA and the airlines. We also have an Airport Advisory Committee made up of elected officials and other interested parties from around the region whom we meet with regularly to solicit their input and ideas. So we do that.
We do have a departure noise limit. We do have a noise monitoring system. We do have, as has been alluded to earlier, noise abatement departure procedures that are in effect.
We do have restrictions on nighttime engine run-ups, which is a source of many community complaints from communities surrounding the airport. Weather conditions permitting, runway usage is almost equally split between departures from the south, the 22 departures we are talking about today, and to the north.
We are working closely with the FAA and the airlines to encourage greater use of runway 1129, our third runway, which is a shorter runway, particularly for smaller jet departures. So those are some of the kinds of things that we have in place and continue to try to come up with at the airport to improve the quality of life for the residents of the communities surrounding the airport.
Mr. DUNCAN. Do you think that things are getting better in that regard?
Ms. BAER. I think we believe they are getting better. I think we are doing a better job of listening to folks around the airport and soliciting their views and input so that we know immediately the effect of it.
We have been working very closely with the FAA. We have a new tower chief at the airport who is terrific and on his own is coming up with some ideas what we might do to mitigate noise.
Mr. DUNCAN. I thank you very much.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Yesterday, Mr. Hatfield and some others came to see me and Ms. Feldman from the FAA, and they didMr. Hatfield I think did a good job trying to explain the magnitude of the problem, and I think it has been mentioned here this morning and yesterday thatwhat70 percent of the commercial traffic in this country every day flies through this airspace; is that correct?
Mr. HATFIELD. I think the statistics are even more amazing than that. Seventy percent of the commercially registered air carriers on the face of the earth pass through New York airspace on a daily basis.
Mr. DUNCAN. Would youwould one of you just try to explainthere are several million people, I guess, very much interested in what we are talking about here, and almost all of those people are like me non-technical people. Would you explain what all is involved, why it will take 8 years to redesign the airspace, what all has to be done?
I am not doubting that. I am just wondering why not 2 years, why not 6 years, why not 4 years? How did you pick out 8 years, and what all has to be done? I am sure it is a very complicated problem, but would you just explain this for all the people who don't understand why it should take that long.
Mr. HATFIELD. Certainly. I am not a very technical person either, so I think I would be able to explain it in that manner. As has been noted here, if you put a compass on top of the World Trade Center, do a circle 10 miles around it, and inside that circle are three of the busiest airports on the face of the earth, Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark. This is arguably the most complex and dense airspace on the face of the earth. The challengesthat that airspace overlies the most densely populated area in the United States of America.
So it is a fine line we walk when we try to make airspace changes in this particular area and balance it against the environmental concerns of the citizens. Over 8,000 flights a day operate into the area.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 If I could direct your attention to the chart at the end, you will see that the green lines represent departures and the red lines represent the arrivals of just some of the major airports in the New York area. That is one day's worth of air traffic flows. Our challenge is to take that bowl of spaghetti, if you will, and take it out one strand at a time and try to improve it and improve the lives of the people living underneath it. That is a daunting challenge, but I think that can be done by a team of air traffic controllers, the union working with management, the airlines, talking to the citizens who live under it.
I am very optimistic that within 18 to 24 months at the outside we can come up with a couple of good plans that make sound aeronautical sense. At that point, we are going to come back to the communities. We are going to hear what they say about our various alternatives, and at that point in time we are going to pick the alternative that is best for the community and best for aviation. We start the environmental process at that point.
It is my belief, based upon the expanded East Coast Plan, that this is going to be an extremely contentious environmental process. As the members well know, the expanded East Coast Plan took over 5 years to complete the environmental process, and it cost well in excess of $6 million. I don't think this is going to be any less challenging for the FAA or for each of you.
For that reason alone, my guessand it is just an estimateis probably 2004 or 2005 would be the very soonest that we could see the full implementation of the airspace redesign.
Now, that is not to say that if there is some options that we look at as we go along that make sound aeronautical sense or are environmentally sound and would benefit the people and the flying people, the people who live underneath it and the flying public, that we won't implement those things incrementally, but soup to nuts, the entire process, my guess is 2004, 2005 and a major pacing item once again and a major expense the environmental.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. We need to move on to the second panel, but you have been very informative, very helpful.
Excuse me, I am sorry. Mr. Lipinski, I apologize.
Mr. LIPINSKI. No, you don't have to apologize, Mr. Chairman.
I have no questions of this panel. I just want to compliment you on your testimony, compliment you on your answers and express my sincere appreciation for your being here today in shedding some light on this controversial situation. I thank you very much.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. LIPINSKI. Yes, sir.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I would just like to make an observation, too, before I too must depart for a family obligation. I want to observe, as you did at the outset, Mr. Lipinski, that this is the last hearing for our Aviation Democratic Chief Counsel, Paul Feldman. We will miss him greatly. Aviation will continue to be served by his skills, knowledge, his expertise, and his dedication to aviation as he goes on to serve with the FAA in the Brussels office, which has far-reaching jurisdiction over all of the aviation operations in the European community and Africa as well.
And we are certainly looking forward to a committee expedition to the European Community seated in Brussels where Mr. Feldman can appropriately receive the committee, explain to us in detail the serious problems of aviation in the European Economic Community and attend to the needs of the committee as we pursue those matters.
I want to thank Paul Feldman for his extraordinary service to the Democratic staff and to the whole committee on both sides. Staff serve all the members, and they serve the best interests of this country.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 We will call up the second panel now.
The second panel consists of the Honorable Chris Bollwage, who is the Mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Mr. Joseph Carroll, who is the District Manager for Staten Island Community Board 1; and Mr. Nicholas Dmytryszyn, who is an environmental engineer speaking on behalf of the Honorable Guy Molinari, Borough President for Staten Island.
We are certainly pleased to have each of you here with us. We are sorry that we haven't gotten to you before now. But we will proceed with your testimony, and we will proceed in the order listed on the call of the hearing, and that means, Mayor Bollwage, we will go with you first, please.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE CHRIS BOLLWAGE, MAYOR, ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY; JOSEPH CARROLL, DISTRICT MANAGER, STATEN ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD 1; AND NICHOLAS DMYTRYSZYN, ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER, SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF THE HONORABLE GUY MOLINARI, BOROUGH PRESIDENT, STATEN ISLAND
Mr. BOLLWAGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Lipinski, Ranking Member and Congressman Menendez, my Congressman from the 13th district of New Jersey.
My name is Chris Bollwage, and I am the Mayor of the City of Elizabeth, which is the fourth largest city in our State, has a population of 110,000 residents. Not only the 9,000 people who live in this flight pattern would be affected but we would adversely be affected throughout our entire city that is prescribed by H.R. 790, the Staten Island Aircraft Noise Correction Act of 1999.
Mr. Chairman, I have strong objections to this legislation which seeks to alleviate the problem of one community at the complete expense of our community. With approximately 48 percent of the busiest airport in the region located in our city, our community endures issues of safety, noise and environmental hazards on a daily basis, more than any other city in the entire metropolitan area.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 In regards to the safety issues of our city, H.R. 790 should be considered from the historical background of the City of Elizabeth. You have heard the testimony regarding the three airplane crashes in a short period of time from 1951 to 1952, so I will not repeat it.
Recognizing the unfair weight that was being imposed on the people of the City of Elizabeth, Senate Resolution 268 was passed by the 82nd Congress, resulting in the closing of Newark Airport. A runway realignment was constructed to redirect flights that once flew over the Elizabeth business center and the congested residential center.
What this committee has not heard yet is that on March 20, 1970, there was an additional crash on a plane attempting to land in the City of Elizabeth, one and a half blocks from a residential community in an industrial area. One more block, Mr. Chairman, and that would have landed in the residential community. Four lives were lost. That would be in the direct flight takeoff that Mr. Fossella proposes. I therefore submit that the initial concern of the City of Elizabeth and its residents in 1951, in 1970, and in 1999 is one of safety.
Additional noise concerns are also a great matter to the people of Elizabeth. As Mayor, I receive regular complaints of excessive aircraft noise from all over the city.
I do take one exception to the three-mile turn that was testified by Ms. Baer and to 2.3 miles where there is no additional noise impact in the City of Elizabeth. That is not correct. There may be less noise in the initial area, but more of Elizabeth was impacted because as the turnsas the planes leave on a southerly route, when they turn north and west to complete their route. When they went 3 miles they were out of the jurisdiction of the City of Elizabeth at a much higher altitude. At 2.3 miles they are turning north and west over the City of Elizabeth and impacting noise in more regions of the city than ever before.
As Mr. Fossella has grown up in Staten Island all his life, I have grown up in the City of Elizabeth. I have lived in different parts of the city and purchased things in many different parts. There is airplane noise in more parts of our city in 1999 than ever before, and it is in direct relation to the shortening from the 3-mile turn to the 2.3 miles, and that was due to pressure frompolitical pressure from Staten Island officials in order to alleviate that issue.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I don't think we need to alleviate more noise and impact our residents adversely. The Port Authority and the FAA have attempted to reduce aircraft noise by minimizing flights over residential areas. The proximity to that airport, however, makes it impossible to eliminate the noise problem completely. And that is why we still strongly support going back to the three miles before it turns.
The pattern of takeoffs can alleviate or aggravate our situation. For example, in 1997, the FAA, upon recommendation of the Port Authority, modified part of the southbound takeoff procedure by decreasing the required distance that I just spoke about, which causes additional noise problems for our city. Recent environmental studies performed by the Port Authority and the FAA show clearly that the straight-out takeoff procedures cause increased aircraft noise problems for significant population areas of Elizabeth while minimizing noise for a relative few, and I point to Congressman Donald Payne's statement that is before your honorable members that talks about the economically depressed area of the City of Elizabeth that would adversely be impacted in our community.
The October 29 memorandum to this subcommittee from the chairman makes reference to an alleged 1980 study by the FAA which reportedly, in quotes, from numerous conversations here this morning showed significant justification for a straight-out departure from Newark. I have not been provided nor ever read a copy of that study. But I can say that in the last 19 years at Newark International Airport there has been significant changes, and I often wonder as Mayor if I ever attempted to implement a report that was 20 years old what my constituents would do to me.
In addition to the aforementioned issues, the effect of our environment is a grave matter for Elizabeth, and section 4 of the legislation reads with particular shock as well as insult to our community. It is this section which relinquishes the requirement for an environmental impact statement. In the past 6 years, we have put tremendous effort into remediating the environmental conditions of New Jersey's fourth largest urban center. I find the remission of section 4 to be insulting and perhaps abusive to the people of the City of Elizabeth.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I sympathize with the aircraft noise problems of Staten Island. I ask Staten Island to sympathize with the aircraft noise in Elizabeth. H.R. 790 is not the solution. I have illustrated here today that this proposed change would have significant and disastrous effects on the residents of Elizabeth. Congressman Menendez has talked about the school, the hospitals, and the churches and the people that the planes would fly over. It does not solve a residential problem of noise pollution. It simply relocates the problem to be concentrated in our community.
I therefore ardently oppose passage of H.R. 790 and respectfully request the Aviation Subcommittee stop this bill here. I just ask the committee to remember 1951, 1952, and 1970 and not let it happen again.
I thank you for your time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mayor Bollwage.
Mr. CARROLL. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, thank you.
I have some prepared remarks which I will read in a minute, but I have to say, from some of the comments I heard from several members of the panel, I was trying to figure out what is going on here.
Community Board 1 on Staten Island is an agent of the city government, and we represent about 100,000 people on the north and west shore. So when I heard several of the Congressmen making queries and referring to the fact that this is going to affect 200 people, I was unaware where this information come from. I then did an exchange back and forth and saw that it came from the FAA.
So if the FAA is telling the members of this panel that this noise is affecting 200 people, they are not telling you the truth. If they can't count the number of people in Staten Island that this affects, then there is a serious problem with what is going on here.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I will tell you that these airplanes fly over the Mariners Harbor project, the Arlington projects, Southgate, Herring Pond, several other residential developments, and they pass pretty close to P.S. 44, Public School 44. There are thousands of people living there, not 200. This is a deliberate, I believe, attempt to take reality and alter it in a way that is more accommodating, let's say, to the other side of Arthur Kill. Because you live in Jersey, you say, well there is 9,000 here and 200 here; we win, you lose. That would be true if it were true, but it is not true. Just as a way of preamble, let me say that.
OK, Mr. Chairman, good morning. My name is Joseph Carroll, and I am the District Manager of Staten Island Community Board 1. As I have said, our district is the north and west shore of Staten Island; and these communities in our north and west shore are the communities most affected by the noise of these airplanes.
A long time ago, on March 1, 1801, Thomas Jefferson pledged equal and exact justice to all men as part of the ''bright constellation'' that is America. Sometimes it seems almost as long ago, in the spring of 1980, the FAA did a study that Congressman Fossella referred to would show the safest, best, cheapest, least disruptive to any community way to get out of Newark Airport is the straight-out approach.
Every couple of years after that, the FAA has come back, and they have sent us letters, and we have probably as many letters as the Congressman has, saying we are taking care of the air noise, we are taking care of this, we are taking care of that. But they never take care of anything. They never do anything.
I heard the testimony that it is all upfront, and it is all fair, and in that sense it is true. People come to meetings, and they say, what would you like to say? And they say, we have made good note of what you said, but never effecting any action. There is never any action effected by the testimony of people, by the pleas of people.
And it does make the people of Staten Island a little discouraged when nothing ever happens, and it is certainly not accurate to say that there weren't comments on the environmental assessment, but they were mainly made to the community board or probably to the borough president and the congressional office, and they transmitted it to the FAA.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Very simply, if the FAA had done what it was supposed to do in 1980 and subsequent to 1980 we wouldn't be here today. We wouldn't be going through this. And what has happenedto me, it became very clear today what was happening. The FAA has become like an appeasement pharmacy for the legislators of New Jersey. Their constituents come with complaints more based on perception than reality, and then the legislators go to the FAA and say, make this go away.
Now, I don't necessarily believe that the Jersey legislators are wrong in trying to accommodate their constituents' complaints. I do think they should perhaps be a little more aggressive in investigating the validity of it. We can all be real zealous in what we say and what we do, but zeal has a way of covering up truth. But I do find and I do take great exception to the fact that the FAA, a public purpose agency, these folks at some point have forgotten their oath of public office. They are taking information and making it appearwith very, very nice words making it appear to be what it is not.
It is not true that only 200 people are being affected. There are thousands of people being affected. You can't kiss your kids good night in Arlington, in the Mariners Harbor project and in the Arlington homes and in Stonegate. You can't. The planes come by every 90 seconds. It is like being stuck behind a Harley in a tunnel. The noise rattles your teeth. It is awful, awful, awful, awful noise.
I don't know. I can't speak to his honor the Mayor's issue with regard to Elizabeth. I have not been there. But I can tell you that this is what it is like in Arlington, Staten Island. So the reason I am here today is I am asking this panel to make the FAA do its job, to tell the truth to the American people.
This is not the truth that it is only affecting 200 people. It is not the truth. It is affecting thousands of people. We have at least the document through evidenceand just so you don't think I am a zealot, too, I brought the New York City Department of Environmental Protection noise analysis which shows that we have between 75 and 102 decibels every hour on the hour on a regular basis. It is included in the documents before you there.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 So this is not me making up tales. I went. I listened. I heard. But I also asked, and -DEP did accommodate. They did study. They did test. They did hear.
One point of fact, we were preparing to actually file suit, but we didn'twe wouldn't have the money, so we didn't do it, but we may still do that.
Again, just to reiterate, I am here to ask this panel to help us make this fair. It is not fair now. And I am grateful to Congressman Fossella. Since the first day in office he has had this pursuit of justice for our communities, and I am glad he has, and I am glad he has afforded us this opportunity today.
And I will just stop by reminding everyone what Daniel Webster said on December 12. ''justice, sir, is the great interest of man on earth.'' .
And I thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Carroll, thank you very much. I can understand your concern.
Mr. DMYTRYSZYN. Good morning, thank you, Chairman Duncan House committee members and Congressman Fossella, for the invitation to offer testimony concerning airplane noise from Newark Airport. Airplane nose over Staten Island from that airport's southbound departure runways has greatly diminished the quality of life in northwestern Staten Island for decades.
For over 3 decades, the FAA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the State of New Jersey have regulated airplane noise from Newark airport's departing aircraft. Certain facts concerning Newark Airport operations are rarely, if ever, discussed. This is especially true with the Airport's operations, an Airport which I must remind the panel is totally in the State of New Jersey, when the subject of airplane noise over Staten Island from the Airport's southbound departures is brought up. To the FAA, the Port Authority and New Jersey, only airplane noise issues are of paramount concern. Staten Islanders, however, because of what we are assaulted with every day from an airport in another State, we are concerned with airplane noise facts.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 It has taken us several years to investigate and piece together a number of facts that range from the obvious to the incredulous. My purpose today is to read into the record several of these facts, because for too long our opponents have effectively obscured the line between facts and issues.
One, in very simple terms, airport runways are designed so that planes take off into the wind. Newark Airport has two departure headings, a 40 degree heading from true north, known as runway 4, and a 220 degree heading from true north, known as runway 22. For over 55 percent of the time and sometimes as high as 65 percent of the time, Newark Airport departures use the southbound headings because that is the direction from where the winds generally blow. Thus, planes depart by traveling at a 220 heading into the wind.
Two, once the wheels are off the ground, all planes use runway 22, making an immediate 30 degree lift to a 190 degree heading. Why? To avoid the City of Elizabeth. Why? Because of mid-air plane crashes that occurred half a century ago.
Three, it is our understanding that when an airport renews its certificate of operation, the airport must have in its files all operational functions, including the history of departure procedures and why changes were made. Two Freedom of Information requests to the FAA revealed that the certificate of operation files for Newark Airport do not include any information as to why runway 22 departures make an immediate 30-degree turn to the left once lift-off has occurred.
We were told that there was an agreement between the City of Elizabeth and the Port Authority. The Freedom of Information request of the City of Elizabeth revealed that no such agreement existed. Therefore, it appears that the departure procedure that has been in use for over 30 years is both arbitrary and capricious, has no paper trail, and no legal foundation. Yet Newark Airport's certificate has been renewed for decades, no questions asked.
Four, after a runway 22 departure turns to the 190-degree heading, it travels at least three nautical miles before turning back to a 220-degree heading. What does this look like on the ground? An airplane leaves Newark Airport space, then leaves New Jersey airspace so as to enter New York Staten Island airspace. After 3.0 miles is reached, only then does the plane make another 30 degree turn back to the right to reenter New Jersey space. Why? Because after 3.0 nautical miles, the City of Elizabeth has been avoided when the planes return to fly over New Jersey.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 And, as a side note, when airplanes depart on runway 4 that is to the north, all subsequent turns are strictly over in New Jersey airspace.
Five, research also discovered a very important document that is nowhere to be found in the FAA's files, yet it originated with the FAA. Nineteen years ago, the regional FAA office, acting on the recommendations of the Newark Area Review Committee, implemented a runway 22 straight-out departure test so as to consider noise impacts, operational advantages to the user, fuel economy, and operational advantages to the air traffic controllers. Over 146 aircraft were used, ranging from 747s to cargo flights.
After reviewing the results, the local FAA office reported that, a, because the departing aircraft achieved higher altitudes quicker, exposure of noise-sensitive communities to noise was not aggravated; b, unrestricted climbs to 5,000 feet increased fuel efficiencies; c, an immediate savings of 1,500 hours per year of flight crew time was realized; -d, in 1980 dollars, a straight-out departure procedure would show fuel economy savings of $2 million in the first year; and, e, air traffic controllers identified the 30-degree turn to a 190-degree heading as an inefficient air traffic controller operation.
Thus, the local FAA recommended that the straight-out departure be implemented. Yet no action was ever taken, the FAA preferring instead to continue its current arbitrary and capricious procedures. FAA headquarters not only does not have the report, a report that we have in our possession, it also has no record of why the local FAA's recommendations were overruled.
The FAA states that any trafficair traffic change below 3,000 feet requires an environmental impact statement. Yet, in a 1991 letter, then FAA regional director Daniel Peterson wrote to Staten Island Borough President Molinari that the recent changes in runway 22 departures initiated for the benefit of New Jersey residents caused new noise problems for Staten Island. When we asked for the environmental impact statement for this change below 3,000 feet, the FAA produced nothing. In fact the FAA did not pull the plug on the new changes. Instead it became the new standard operational procedure.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Lastly, the FAA continues to have no credibility with Staten Islanders. The most recent example is not even 2 months old. A 6 -month test departure procedure that tweaked the angle of return from Staten Island airspace back to New Jersey airspace was concluded in September, 1998. At that time, Congressman Fossella and Staten Islanders were informed that the environmental assessment for that test would be completed and given to us in September, 1999. Throughout the year, and I must stress this, we were never updated as to its progress, we never saw a draft of the report, even though we were told that we would have a draft of the report, nor did we ever see conclusions. We don't even know, except for what we heard today, that it had been completed.
These are just a few of the more important facts the Staten Islanders have been told to live with. We have been forced to live with planes more than three miles from the end of runway 22 flying at an altitude of 850 to 1,000 feet, creating noise on the ground of over 100 decibels at 7:30 in the morning. We are now being asked to sit quietly for the next 5 to 7 years while the FAA redesigns airspace. This is unacceptable. For over 19 years the FAA has had in its possession results of its own study that outline a procedure that proved to be safer, quieter, more economical, more efficient and did not affect the arrivals and departures from any of the metropolitan airports because of its own space of 5,000 feet.
We feel there is no need to wait 5 to 7 years. There is no need for a further study. A compelling study recommending a straight-out departure already exists, and that procedure should be permanent and forthwith. Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Dmytryszyn.
I want to thank all three of you.
Unfortunately, we have a vote going on now; and, rather than hold you up, I am going to allow members to submit questions to you. I am going to instruct that the record of this hearing be held open for exactly 30 days so that any interested citizens, experts, or members can submit additional statements or remarks for the record.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 I am sorry that we had to spend so much time with the first panel and didn't get to questions here for you, but we do have to break at this time, and we will be allowing people to submit questions for the record if they wish to do so. But thank you very much for taking time out from what I know are very busy schedules to come be with us today.
That will conclude this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 12:10 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]