Doug Most, Staff Writer
Even as it faces increasing complaints about noise, Teterboro Airport on Monday was awarded the nations top honor for airports of its size in 1999 by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Teterboro, New Jerseys oldest airport, was selected by the FAA as having the best control tower because of its "outstanding record in operational efficiency, communications with the local community and aviation community, and employee development," the FAA said.
"Facility of the Year is a major award," said Ron Morgan, the FAAs director of air traffic services. Teterboro beat out 94 other airports in its size category, the FAA said.
Teterboro handled more than 250,000 flights last year, mostly air charters, business jets, air taxis, and military flights, and it has seen a 20 percent increase in traffic in the last three years. The control tower operates around the clock, something that local residents are trying to change by asking the FAA to impose a curfew on late-night flights.
Tom Carbone, the air traffic manager for Teterboros control tower, said the FAA award was especially gratifying considering how frustrated nearby residents have become with the noise from planes at the airport.
"Its a delicate balance," he said. "We strive to be a good neighbor in the community. We sympathize and we empathize with the people."
Gary Palm, Teterboros representative to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said the New York region no longer has just three major airports Newark, La Guardia, and Kennedy.
"Now its the big four," he said. "We may not handle the commercial traffic, but we do a great job with the business traffic."
Teterboro is ranked as a Level 7 airport, with Level 11 being the busiest control towers and Level 3 the least busy. All three major New York-area airports are Level 11. Teterboro officials say they are pursuing an upgrade to Level 8, which would bring an increase in funding and operational services.