Eastern Airspace Redesign Faces Opposition

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The FAA decided to go with a controversial redesign of the airspace serving New York, Newark and Philadelphia airports on Wednesday but it has a fight on its hands to implement the changes. At least one town, Elizabeth, N.J., has filed a court challenge and several well-organized and well-heeled groups are opposing the so-called Integrated Airspace Alternative. In a nutshell, the plan provides for more direct inbound routing and more and steeper takeoff trajectories. The agency says the redesign will save fuel and result in 20 percent fewer delays by 2011 than if no changes were made. “This new concept in airspace design will help us handle the rapidly growing number of flights in the Northeast in a much more efficient way,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey in a news release. “This airspace was first designed in the 1960s and has become much more complex. We now need to look at creative new ways to avoid delays.” But the changes will also put air traffic over areas that have so far been spared the noise.

Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage told the New York Times that people who live in areas of the city that are under the existing flight paths are used to the noise. The redesign will spread that burden "throughout the city" he said. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NY) said the redesign will upset the tranquility of the suburbs. “When New Jerseyans come home from work each night, we want peace and quiet, not the booming sound of 747s overhead,” he said in a statement.