Editorial: Rattled residents need help on JFK jet noise

An aerial view of Kennedy Airport. (April 15, An aerial view of Kennedy Airport. (April 15, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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People living near airports or under busy landing paths have to accept aircraft noise as a fact of life. In the busy New York City airspace, there are lots of planes thundering overhead.

But an increase in overnight arrivals into Kennedy Airport using one particular runway has made the problem worse for some Nassau and Queens communities.

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Getting planes in and out of JFK safely and efficiently has to be the top priority for the Federal Aviation Administration, which controls air traffic, and the Port Authority, which manages the airport. But doing what they can to mitigate the noise should be a priority, too.

The FAA tries to rotate the runways in use every eight hours to provide some relief for the airport's neighbors. But wind and weather conditions and runway maintenance often dictate which ones get heavy traffic. That's what Port Authority officials blamed for the nearly 36 percent increase in night arrivals on runway 22L in 2013, and the attendant noise at inconvenient hours, which prompted complaints from residents of more than a dozen communities, including Valley Stream, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, East Hills, Hicksville and Massapequa.

It's time for a fresh start -- an informed conversation between FAA and Port Authority officials and residents of the Nassau communities represented by the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee, and similar advocacy groups in Queens. A newly formed airport advisory council is a good start. And under orders from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to find better ways to manage the noise, the Port Authority is hiring consultants to conduct a multiyear study and recommend measures to mitigate the problem.

The jets aren't going away, and neither is all the racket. But a candid dialogue about what can and can't be done should reduce the turbulence between JFK and its neighbors.

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