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House proposal would limit U.S. jet noise

Planes on the tarmac and landing at John

Planes on the tarmac and landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. Credit: Uli Seit

Noise levels on U.S. commercial jets would be ordered reduced to limit the impact on communities near airports, according to federal legislation introduced by lawmakers from Long Island and New York City.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens-Bronx) introduced the Silent Skies Act of 2013 to Congress last week. The law would require that the Federal Aviation Administration issue regulations by the end of 2015 requiring commercial airplanes to meet Stage 4 aircraft noise certification standards that would begin lowering decibel levels.

"Airports can never be perfect neighbors, but we can take steps to make them better neighbors," Crowley said in a statement. "The Silent Skies Act will help achieve that goal by requiring airlines to begin stocking their fleets with newer, quieter aircraft."

The legislation was co-sponsored by Reps. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), Grace Meng (D-Queens), and other House representatives from Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"The Silent Skies Act will . . . make a big difference for residents in Queens and Nassau County, as well as those who live near airports all over the country," Israel said in a statement.

The proposal requires U.S. airlines to meet the standards by phasing in the quieter engines at a rate of 25 percent of their fleet every five years from 2020 to 2035. The law would exclude foreign aircrafts and cargo planes.

The legislation would provide grants of up to $10 million a year from 2014 to 2016 to encourage the research and development of quieter turbojet engines.

"We welcome any legislation that would assist with quieting the skies over the communities we serve," said Kendall Lampkin, executive director of Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee.

FAA officials, who would not comment on the proposed legislation, said all new commercial aircraft designs already must meet Stage 4 noise standards. The agency is also taking steps to implement a more stringent noise standard, Stage 5, which is quieter by seven decibels.

Floral Park Village trustee Mary-Grace Tomecki, a member of the noise abatement group, said for communities impacted by engine noise, equitable distribution of plane traffic and rotation of runway usage would be more beneficial.

"I don't know if in the initial term it is going to have any real impact," Tomecki said of the proposed legislation. "I think the issue is that the communities of western Nassau are contending with has to do less with individual incidents with aircrafts, but more to do with the volume of aircraft flying over homes within a concentrated period of time."

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