2002-02-23 / Front Page

Despite Promise, Planes Still Come

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Rockaway residents do not have to be told that the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is not keeping its promise made to Congressman Anthony Weiner and to the community to change the flight paths of aircraft departing JFK Airport so that planes no longer fly over the peninsula between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

That promise was made by the FAA at a meeting hosted by Weiner at PS 114 and then, on February 4, in an agency press release.

The agency said that it would reroute planes from Runway 31L out over Jamaica Bay and through the slot between Breezy Point and Coney Island during those hours. Those flights that could not be rerouted over that "Breezy Track," would fly over Riis Park, the agency promised.

Residents say, however, that all they have to do to know that the promise is not being kept is to "open their ears."

"I am really annoyed," says Linda Ruscillo, a homemaker who organized an airport demonstration against planes flying over the peninsula shortly after the crash of flight 587 in Belle Harbor. "Here it was, 11:30 at night and I was hearing planes over my house."

"I counted at least six planes that came over Beach 121 Street between 11:30 p.m. and midnight last Sunday," a caller told The Wave. "I don’t know what a government agency’s promise is worth, but the FAA’s promise to keep planes from flying over Rockaway isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on."

FAA spokesperson Jim Peters told reporters, however, that planes must sometimes be routed over Rockaway during those hours due to safety considerations.

"Due to last minute weather conditions that might affect flight safety, planes sometimes have to fly over homes," Peters said.

Congressman Weiner’s office was not available for comment at press time.


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