2003-01-18 / Front Page

Technical Glitch For FAA Bridge Beacon

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

The beacon atop the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge that would bring many of the aircraft exiting John F. Kennedy Airport via Runway 31 Left over the bridge as promised by Congressman Anthony Weiner at a public meeting late last year will not become a reality anytime soon.

At that meeting a number of residents complained to Weiner that the planes continued to fly over Belle Harbor, the scene of a airline crash in November of 2001, despite the Federal Aviation Agency’s (FAA) promise that new flight paths would be developed that would keep at least 70 percent of the planes away from that neighborhood during nighttime hours.

Weiner told those who questioned the fact that the new flight paths had not yet begun despite the fact that they were promised nearly a year before, that the FAA was going to place a beacon atop the bridge and that the planes coming from Runway 31 Left would "fly that beacon" to a new waypoint over the Atlantic Ocean and then to their destination.

This week, however, Weiner’s office told The Wave that "the new beacon has not been installed due to technical problems" and that "many of the foreign carriers were not in position to use the beacon as yet."

Weiner’s spokesperson added that there were "ongoing technical meetings to address the problem."

"We need to develop a superior navigation system to make this work," he said.

Arlene Salac, a spokesperson for the FAA, however, told The Wave, after checking with her local experts, that she was "not aware of any beacon to be placed on the Marine Parkway Bridge."

Salac said that the agency is working with Weiner to develop new flight paths that would keep planes away from Belle Harbor, particularly at night.

She later told this paper that, although there was no new beacon, the agency would "begin publishing procedures for the promised new flight paths over uninhabited portions of the peninsula by January 31."

"We are going to try these new flight paths 24 hours a day," she said, "but it all depends on conditions and the number of flights departing the airport. There are no guarantees that we will be able to do this 24 hours a day."

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