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Falling metal joins airplane noise as Stewart Manor meeting topic

Lee Ackerman in his Stewart Manor yard on

Lee Ackerman in his Stewart Manor yard on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, where he said he found a piece of metal that had been shed by a jumbo airliner. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Tuesday that a metal panel from an Airbus A380 jumbo jet had landed last week in a Stewart Manor backyard, a mishap criticized at a monthly meeting aimed at reducing airplane noise.

"Hopefully, there'll be an investigation, and some type of explanation, and some protocols put in place to prevent this kind of debris from falling again," Cristina O'Keeffe, Stewart Manor's representative to the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee, said Tuesday.

The FAA said in an email that an instruction panel was "dislodged from the inside of a landing gear door of an Airbus A380 aircraft."

"The FAA still is working on determining which aircraft the instruction panel came from," the agency added Tuesday.

Five companies fly that model Airbus out of John F. Kennedy International Airport -- Air France, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, and Lufthansa -- said a spokesman for the Port Authority, which operates the airport.

The jet, the world's largest commercial aircraft, can carry more than 500 passengers.

On Aug. 19, Lee Ackerman, 52, of Stewart Manor, was walking his dog when he found a square piece of metal, about 1 foot by 1 foot, in a fern.

On one side of the metal piece was a gray, sticky material that appeared to be glue. On the other side were a diagram and maintenance instructions for an A380 wing landing gear.

The discovery was an unwelcome reminder of the potential hazards of living near flight paths for some people who attended the noise meeting Monday night in Stewart Manor.

They recalled that four years ago a 4-pound metal door dropped from an Alitalia Boeing 767 on final approach to Kennedy Airport and landed near the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola.

"Residents were anxious, some were fearful, but I told them not to hold their breath because this has happened in the past and the FAA has done nothing about this," said Ray Gaudio, East Williston's noise committee representative.

"Who knows how many more parts have landed in baseball fields, empty fields, that no one finds?"

In recent years, noise complaints from residents near Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and under the flight paths have become louder since the FAA began redesigning airspace over New York City for the NextGen satellite-based air-traffic control system.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) has said he would withhold billions in FAA funding if the agency doesn't limit night flights over some Nassau communities. A spokesman for Israel said Tuesday the congressman is awaiting an FAA response.

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