NEW YORK, NY — The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today called for comments on four potential plans to improve safety, reduce delays and handle growing air traffic in most of the nation’s northeastern airspace.
The call comes as the FAA released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Airspace Redesign Project. The statement describes the different alternatives the FAA is considering to change the structure of the airspace within a five-state area to better match increases in air traffic levels, new technologies and aircraft types.
The airspace redesign involves a 31,000-square-mile, five-state area with a population of 29 million residents. Twenty-one airports are included within the project, with a particular focus placed on air traffic operations at five major airports: Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport in New Jersey; John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York; and Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania. Airports without significant instrument flight rule operations were not included.
The four airspace redesign alternatives under consideration are: Future No Action; Modifications to Existing Airspace; Ocean Routing Airspace; and Integrated Airspace Alternative. The FAA did not identify a preferred alternative as part of this statement.
Instead, the agency will select a preferred alternative after the public comment ends on June 1, 2006, and after all comments have been closely considered. Listed below are summaries for each alternative:
- Future No Action: This alternative assumes no changes to the existing airspace. Under this alternative, the airspace will operate as it does under existing conditions. The Council on Environmental Quality regulations requires this alternative to be part of the DEIS so that it can be used as a benchmark to compare the magnitude of environmental impacts of the other alternatives.
- Modifications to Existing Airspace: This alternative includes air traffic procedure changes that increase departure efficiency to the west along multiple tracks and by splitting a major westbound airway into two independent airways. Under this alternative, there are new departure headings for LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and Philadelphia Airports. This alternative enhances safety by reducing the complexity of the airspace and improves efficiency by expediting departures.
- Ocean Routing Airspace: This alternative, proposed by the New Jersey Citizens for Environmental Research (NJCER) at the request of the New Jersey Citizens Against Aircraft Noise (NJCAAN), moves all departing flights from Newark Liberty International Airport over the Atlantic Ocean before turning back over land in the direction of the next destination of departing aircraft. The purpose of this alternative would be to reduce noise impacts on New Jersey residents. While the ocean routing alternative does not meet the purpose of the project by increasing efficiency, the FAA elected to include this alternative for analysis due to NJCAAN concerns.
- Integrated Airspace Alternative: This alternative would make additional airspace available to enable air traffic controllers to expedite the flow of traffic in and out of the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia metropolitan areas more efficiently and safely. This alternative could be carried out either with existing, standalone air traffic control facilities or by consolidating facilities throughout the project area. Because the FAA has not yet decided on whether to approve consolidation, this alternative includes provisions for both consolidated and non-consolidated facilities.
The FAA will address strategies to reduce the environmental impact of the preferred alternative, once it is identified. That information will be included in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
The statement, as well as a list of locations where it will be displayed, can be viewed at http://www.faa.gov/nynjphl_airspace_redesign.
People interested in the airspace redesign project will have an opportunity to submit verbal or written comments during a series of 30 public workshops that will be held throughout the five-state study area in February, March and April 2006. Meeting notices will be published and distributed beginning in January. Information on the dates, times and locations of meetings, which have not yet been finalized, as well as other detailed information will also be available on the project website. Those unable to attend any of the workshops can submit written comments by mail to the following party:
Mr. Steve Kelley, FAA-Airspace Redesign
c/o Nessa Memberg
12005 Sunrise Valley Road
Reston, VA 20191
Written comments also can be submitted by email to: email@example.com