Lautenberg, Menendez, Andrews Call For FAA To Halt Airspace Redesign Plan

Lautenberg, Menendez, Andrews Call For FAA To Halt Airspace Redesign Plan

N.J. Sens. & Rep. Criticize FAA Over Handling of Changes to Flight Patterns in Light of Safety, Noise Concerns

West Deptford - U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ-01) today stood across the Delaware River from Philadelphia International Airport with West Deptford Mayor Anna Docimo and air traffic controllers from Philadelphia Airport criticizing the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) handling of its airspace redesign plan.

The N.J. federal elected officials released a letter they wrote to acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell demanding the Administration stop implementation of its airspace redesign plan "until key safety, quality of life and environmental justice issues are addressed." Rep. Andrews also released a letter last week asking the FAA to investigate its spokesman's critical comments of controllers who had concerns with the plan.

"The Bush FAA forced its flawed airspace design plans onto local neighborhoods despite numerous safety and environmental concerns. Remarkably, the FAA failed to publish the new procedures that pilots and air traffic controllers rely on to do their jobs safely, and even proposed that employees with safety concerns seek employment elsewhere," said Sen. Lautenberg. "New Jersey families deserve more from the FAA. Residents should not have to tolerate the additional aircraft noise and potential safety hazards that result from this flight plan. We will continue our fight to protect the health, safety and quality of life of communities across New Jersey by working to ensure these concerns are heard."

Sen. Menendez said, "The FAA rushed to implement this plan, which instead of significantly addressing flight delays merely aggravates families inside their own homes, lowers the quality of life in these neighborhoods and diminishes property values amidst a nationwide housing crisis. This is a case of government bureaucracy not listening to serious local concerns. We are using every tool at our disposal to hold their feet to the fire until they understand what the residents of these communities are forced to put up with."

"It is beyond arrogant that the FAA has chosen to ignore the advice and criticism of seasoned air traffic controllers and pilots who have criticized the rushed implementation of this plan," said Rep. Rob Andrews. "I remain convinced this plan needs to be stopped on the grounds that it is a public nuisance to the residents I represent and a waste of taxpayer dollars in that it will not lead to any significant reduction in flight delays."

A number of concerns arising from the new airspace redesign plan have called the safety and effectiveness of the plan into question. When controllers at Philadelphia Airport raised concerns about the safety of new procedures associated with the project, an FAA spokesman told these controllers to "look for work elsewhere." And within minutes of the plan's implementation, it was discovered that one of the aircraft departure headings from Newark Liberty Airport actually led directly into an approach heading for New York LaGuardia Airport.

In addition to these safety concerns, Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez and Rep. Andrews have taken issue with the heightened noise levels that some 300,000 in the New Jersey region will experience with the new plan in place. Several communities throughout New Jersey have joined in opposing the redesign project due to the increase in noise levels.

To gain attention to the many flawed policies pursued by the Bush FAA, including the mishandling of this airspace redesign project, Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez put a "hold" on acting Administrator Sturgell's nomination to head the FAA on a permanent basis. Sturgell has been a chief Bush Administration policymaker at the FAA since 2002, and has overseen all operations at the FAA for the past six months.