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The Record, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2001, Editorial Section

Turmoil at Teterboro
Larger jets, charter service spell trouble

North Jerseyans who live near Teterboro Airport have more than enough aggravation dealing with the seemingly relentless airplane noise. Two recent developments threaten to make their lives even more miserable.

One proposal is in the planning stages, and the other has barely gotten off the ground, but both spell trouble. Boeing is currently seeking Federal Aviation Administration approval to land its huge Business Jets at Teterboro, even though these behemoths weigh up to 175,000 pounds and the airport has a limit of 1000,000 pounds. What’s more, as Staff Writer Dan Sforza reported in the Sunday Record, a charter service has begun daily commercial flights at the airport.

If either plan is allowed to stand, it will mean even more airplane noise and traffic at an airport that is already driving its neighbors crazy. If both plans succeed, they have the potential to turn this public airport into La Guardia East or Newark North. That would be a nightmare.

 

Problem No. 1: Boeing wants its customers to be able to land their Business Jets – Boeing 737s converted from passenger planes to private business jets – at Teterboro. It says that the FAA requires the airport to accept any aircraft that it can safely handle, and that the Business Jets are quieter than some planes that currently land at Teterboro.

The good news is that the Port Authority, which operates Teterboro, if fighting the Business Jet invasion. It says the runways weren’t built to handle the heavier planes, and that its 100,000-pound limit was grandfathered into the law that allows the heavier planes to land elsewhere. What’s more, the PA has been fighting to bar noisier planes from Teterboro. To allow the Boeings would be to head in the wrong direction – and open the runways to even heavier planes.

 

Problem No. 2: An outfit named Indigo has been selling seats on its regularly scheduled twice-daily charter flights between Teterboro and Chicago’s Midway Airport. Indigo says that it is not a commercial airline, that it has been certified by both the FAA and the Department of Transportation, and that it hopes to eventually expand its executive charter service to more cities and 100 planes.

Nonetheless, these regularly scheduled flights – with seats for sale on the Internet or through travel agents – sure look like thinly veiled commercial flights, which are supposed to be restricted to commercial airports. The Port Authority says it has been monitoring Indigo’s operations and will now take an even closer look. The PA’s director of aviation, Bill DeCota, says that if the charters violate Port Authority regulations, the agency will halt these flights.

Even if these operations meet the letter of the law – and that’s doubtful – they circumvent the spirit of the law. Public airports – as contrasted with commercial airports – were not intended to accommodate commercial operations. If Newark and La Guardia are at capacity, these planes should use Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., or another facility.

In a pinch, the regulations should be changed. A spokesman for Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, says that the congressman has already contacted the FAA about the Indigo mess. If Indigo has found a loophole, it should be closed.

Teterboro wasn’t designed or intended for commercial passenger airlines or huge jets. To encourage larger and larger planes to use Teterboro or to turn it into a hub for mini-passenger airlines would be horrible for everyone in the region.

 

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