A step toward quieter airplane noise for Queens residents

Queens, N.Y. – The fight to lower airplane noise over Queens neighborhoods took a step in the right direction with the signing of the new omnibus spending bill by President Trump.

Signed on March 23, the legislation holds a clause instructing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to analyze new ways of measuring noise from aircrafts in order to reduce it.

The members of Congress’ Quiet Skies Caucus is focused on aircraft noise from LaGuardia and JFK airports. The members include Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx), Tom Suozzi (D-Suffolk, Nassau, Queens), Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn, Queens), Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau) and Kathleen Rice (D-Nassau). They secured the measure in the spending bill and announced the provision on Monday.

“The blistering sounds of airplane noise in Queens continues to negatively impact the quality of life of borough residents, and looking at a more accurate measurement of noise effects would go a long way towards creating quieter skies over our communities,” said Grace Meng. “I look forward to seeing what other metrics the FAA proposes.”

The FAA uses day-night average sound level (DNL) to measure airplane noise in decibels. The allowable limit for the noise in residential areas is 65 decibels.

According to the agency, when airplanes are flown between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., a 10 decibel penalty is added to the noise they create for the DNL calculation.

Many Quiet Skies activists have called for the allowable decibels to be lowered to 55.

California uses a system called Community Noise Equivalence Level rather than DNL. In addition to the DNL’s penalty between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the CNEL adds a five-decibel penalty for flight noise between 7 and 10 p.m.

New York Community Aviation Roundtable Co-chairman Warren Schreiber lives in Bay Terrace, where many residents are unhappy with the noise from LaGuardia planes. He says DNL’s metrics is flawed.

“You could have a plane sometime during the day coming in and producing noise of 80 decibels and then you have another one coming in and producing noise of 40 decibels,” he said. “Take the two of those together, divide it by two.” Schreiber noted the calculation would be 60 decibels, just under the FAA threshold, but those who hear the plane that produced 80 decibels are subject to a painfully loud sound.

Howard Beach-Lindenwold Civic Association President Joann Ariola said airplane noise “has never been as bad as it is now.” She added the FAA “is either not registering airplane noise properly or not listening to the results” of DNL measurements.

Susan Carroll, one of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’ reps on the aviation roundtable, says the omnibus clause is a major victory for the Quiet Skies movement.

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