Residents Of The Rockaways Call To Change Air Routes Out Of JFK
(Belle Harbor-WABC, January 20, 2002) — Hundreds of air routes out of JFK airport could be changing soon. Community leaders are calling for new flight paths over Queens and parts of Long Island. Residents living in those metro areas have long had concerns about the jets flying overhead day and night. October's deadly crash in Belle Harbor added new energy and urgency to their pleas for change. Art McFarland reports the story.
Belle Harbor is still healing. Residents lost dozens of their neighbors in the World Trade Center disaster, and then two months lost friends, neighbors and loved ones as a result of the crash of Flight 587 in their own neighborhood. Residents have asked for fewer flights over the area for a long time. Even before the crash, residents felt changing the flight patterns was long over due.
Residents of The Rockaways met Sunday night to discuss the issue. Many feel that their lives are at risk if things don't change. The meeting was for the Federal Aviation Administration to spell out its plans for reducing the number of planes flying directly over this community.
Gerrie Pomponio barely escaped her home when Flight 587 came down and killed her husband.
Gerrie Pomponio, Crash Victim: "The house just shook. We heard an explosion...debris flying all over the place. We cleared out of the bathroom, and the whole house was gone."
Frank Hatfield, F.A.A.: "What we are doing is for those airlines that are departing that have historically flown over The Rockaways...we're going to try to find a little less populated areas for those aircraft to fly over."
The meeting and the arrangements were spear headed by Congressman Anthony Weiner who says the F.A.A. will cut Rockaway fly overs by up to 80 percent.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York (D): "We are diverting all of the flights as possible out over Breezy Point...out over the water. And for the first time in our nation's history we are using computer tracking, essentially the auto pilot on planes, to make sure they follow that route and don't cross over land."
When Flight 587 crashed, five people on the ground were killed and numerous homes were destroyed. Residents are skeptical that the F.A.A. will be able to implement the plan.
John Lepore, Rockaway Chamber of Commerce: "Its not been a secret for the people out here that the obvious choice was to bring flights over the water and not route them over land. It's sorry that it took a flight crashing in our neighborhood for them to come to that realization."
The F.A.A. is quick to point out that they will not be reducing the number of flights coming out of JFK. They will just try to keep those flights out over the water. This will all begin with a trial period starting February 21st. After that, they hope that the changes, fewer flights and quieter skies in the area, will become permanent.
I don't understand why the residents are complaing now, I don't belevie any planes has crashed in the Rockaways before American Airlines flight 587, besides that....the airport has been there before the residents.
Don't give up don't ever give up - Jim Valvano