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Thu, Apr 26, 2007

Connecticut Residents Accuse FAA Of Holding Back Flight Path Information

Controversial Routing Change Would Send More Planes Over Homes

Opponents to a controversial flight path routing shift -- which, if enacted, would send airliners departing from five northeastern airports over homes in several Connecticut communities -- accused the FAA Tuesday of withholding vital information in gauging the overall impact of that plan.

The Stamford (CT) Advocate reports area residents said the FAA hasn't disclosed such information as altitude, aircraft types, or the number of planes expected to fly over their neighborhoods, if the routing change occurs. Without such information, residents say, it's impossible for aviation consultants -- hired by the affected communities -- to conduct environmental and noise impact studies of the plan.

"You can't use generalities," New Canaan resident -- and pilot -- Guy Brossy told a panel of aviation experts during a meeting this week.

Brossy accused the FAA of hindering efforts to determine the impact of the routing change -- as well as attempting to stymie potential lawsuits over the unpopular plan.

"When are you going to make all of the raw data available?" Brossy asked FAA representatives in attendance.

Agency officials downplayed the accusations, replying that specific information is difficult to provide. For example, only average flight altitudes are available, as aircraft may be cleared for differing altitudes over the area based on routing and traffic. Weather is also a factor in how quickly planes can climb out.

"We're not trying to cover anything with smoke and mirrors here," said FAA airspace redesign manager Steve Kelley.

As Aero-News reported, several communities have joined forces to oppose the routing change to flights departing from an area surrounded by JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, and Philadelphia. The FAA states routing aircraft over parts of Fairfield County would save 12 million minutes of delays per year at area airports, compared to current routes over Putnam and Westchester Counties in New York.

Despite assurances from agency officials, area residents remained jaded to the FAA's honesty.

"It's a dog-and-pony show for just what they already decided to do," said Greenwich resident Eric Lichtenstein.

In addition to LaGuardia traffic, residents said they were concerned about an aspect of the plan that would allow planes departing Westchester County Airport to turn back over northwestern Greenwich as they climb.

Four more meetings are planned in the region, ahead of the May 11 deadline for comments on the plan. If enacted, the FAA says the routing change could go into effect by August.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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