Rockland County Legislator Alden H. Wolfe has asked the Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prepare a supplement to the 2007 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS was required to measure the impact of the FAA’s Northeast Airspace Redesign Plan that developed new flight patterns over the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia airspace. Wolfe maintains many of the assumptions reported in the EIS did not prove to be accurate.
He stated the impact of NextGen satellite-based navigation technology into the redesign plan was not adequately addressed in the final EIS and changes made to the redesign plan since 2007 need to be measured.
Wolfe questioned the accuracy of the redesign plan.
“For instance, the FAA expects NextGen to increase airport operations and the final EIS established a baseline of aircraft operations at Newark Airport of 451,505 based on actual operations in the year 2000 and then projected a steady increase, annually, in those operations," he stated. "For 2011, the FAA projected 524,140. The actual operations were 417,149. Interestingly, the number of aircraft operations have never exceeded the baseline in any year since 2001.”
Wolfe also cited the FAA’s original claim that NextGen technology would design new air routes to reduce the noise emissions made by flights by avoiding residential areas.
“Instead,” noted Wolfe, “the FAA has admitted that new air routes have been consolidated to maximize fuel efficiency and have impinged on residential areas, generating the potential for new aircraft noise and emissions that were not disclosed in the EIS.”
Wolfe said a report filed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office with Congress did not review the FAA’s conformity with the Clean Air Act and did not “fully account for future use of new technology in the noise analysis.”
"That, by itself,” said Wolfe, “is a tremendous oversight.”
“Given that and the failure by the FAA to fully disclose impacts from NextGen,” said Wolfe, “I believe the FAA does have the responsibility to issue a supplemental EIS.”