Briarwood blighted by airplane noise

Some residents in Briarwood are trying to get back to sleep after they said an increase in flights from nearby LaGuardia Airport every day in the month of May — and intermittently after — caused nonstop neighborhood turbulence in the early hours of the morning.

“It’s so much noise,” said Carol Cassvan. “I can’t hear people on the phone. I can’t watch TV. It wakes me up around 6:15 in the morning. I don’t want to live with this.”

Cassvan, 71, said the neighborhood has suffered airplane noise for years, but she said it was never as bad as it is now.

Her neighbor, Joseph Manago, 58, said low-flying aircraft roared past their homes on Burden Crescent every day in May from 6 a.m. to noon with only about one minute between each flight. The noise now fluctuates, sometimes disappearing for days, but Manago said the issue is far from being temporary.

“We didn’t have this in the winter. It seems to be something that has just materialized. It subsided for a while and then it comes back. It sounds like a permanent change,” he said. “I don’t think it’s weather related because even on good days we hear it.”

Jim Peters, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said the traffic was due to departures from LaGuardia Airport off two paths on Runway 13, where airplanes turn right over the Briarwood area.

The procedures, he said, are routine and nothing new. Peters attributed the flight fluctuations to a number of factors, including weather volume and wind.

“Our operations are not the same each day,” he said. “An aircraft has to land and take off in the wind. Depending on from what direction the wind is blowing, it determines the runway that we will be using. Our primary responsibility is to ensure the safe landing and takeoff of aircraft coming into and out of New York.”

Jeffrey Starin, a private airplane pilot and advocate against airplane noise, said the noise is hitting farther neighborhoods than in the past, with homeowners as far as 10 miles from LaGuardia feeling the effects.

“The routes have become much more condensed. There are many, many more flights going in on a narrow path,” said Starin, 57, president of Prospect Park Quiet Skies, a Brooklyn-based group fighting for some peace and quiet.

Starin said the FAA’s redesign of air space four years ago brought upon an increase in capacity to all airports in New York. New technology, including GPS navigation in planes, he said, also allowed planes to fly in very precise flight tracks over the ground.

“In the past, these tracks were more spread out, so the noise was distributed,” he said. “The tracks are much more concentrated now. There’s much more concentrated noise now and there’s a constant stream of aircraft.”

Homeowners fed up with the air racket can file a complaint with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by calling 1-800-225-1071. But Starin said the hot line is more an insult than help.

“This is not something that actually gets anything done for us,” he said. “Nothing’s going to change. It’s a method by which the FAA and Port Authority assuage the concerns of people. People want relief. Producing a seven-digit number doesn’t provide relief.”