Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Press
Port Authority chairman tells
head of FAA that
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia told Federal Aviation Administrator Marion C. Blakey on Wednesday that the Port Authority will continue to fight the FAAs proposed policy that would force planes as large as Boeing 737s to land at Teterboro Airport.
During a meeting with Ms. Blakey at FAA Headquarters in Washington, DC, Chairman Coscia said that the Port Authority will do whatever is necessary to keep the weight restriction in place for the benefit of the communities that surround Teterboro Airport. The Chairman also told Mr. Blakey that the proposed policy, if adopted, would have serious negative impacts on Teterboro Airport operations as well as the facilitys infrastructure.
For more than 30 years, the Port Authoritys 100,000-pound rule has been a reliable tool in the operation of Teterboro Airport to help protect its infrastructure and support the facilitys obligation to serve as a reliever airport as designated by the FAA in the National Airport System.
Chairman Coscia said, "Governor McGreevey has directed the Port Authority to be as aggressive as possible in fighting the FAAs plan to force larger planes at Teterboro Airport, and thats just what were doing. I made it very clear to Administrator Blakey that this proposal is wrong for the airport and it is wrong for the communities surrounding Teterboro Airport. This airport was designed to provide service to general aviation aircraft, not enormous airplanes that the FAA would force upon the residents of Bergen County."
The Chairman also noted that Teterboro Airport serves smaller general aviation aircraft, while Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports accommodate heavier aircraft.
In addition to the Chairmans meeting with Ms. Blakey, in late July the Port Authoritys Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution restating its commitment to restricting larger aircraft and directing agency staff to explore every possible way to stop the FAA. The resolution was immediately sent to the FAA, the Congressional delegations of New Jersey and New York, state and local legislators, and leaders of communities in the vicinity of Teterboro Airport, urging them to initiate similar efforts.
The Port Authority also submitted comments to the FAA in August and continues to work with federal, state and local elected officials to pursue unified opposition to the FAAs policy.
The Port Authority's efforts include Capitol Hill, where the agency has closely coordinated with Congressman Steve Rothman, who won passage of a House of Representatives appropriations bill provision that would block the FAAs proposed policy. The agency also worked with Senators Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, who secured Senate approval of identical legislation.
The Port Authority has taken other measures to improve the quality of life for the residents in and around Bergen County in addition to maintaining the 100,000 pound weight limit, including investing tens of millions of dollars to soundproof nearby schools; instituting an aggressive noise-fighting program that includes a "three-strikes-and-youre-out" provision to ban any airplane if it receives three noise violations; and prohibiting airlines and operators from providing scheduled service, which maintains the airport as a general aviation service.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates some of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International,
Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; the George Washington
Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland
tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH rapid-transit
system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine
Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook
Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency
also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is
financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.
Anthony Coscia is
chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The Boeing Business Jet will never use Teterboro Airport - no matter how much pressure the U.S. government brings to bear - the Port Authority chairman told the chief of the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday.
The face-to-face meeting was the strongest challenge yet to an FAA proposal that would render airport weight restrictions ineffective and allow large jets, such as a Boeing 737, to use Teterboro and other small airports nationwide.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said he told FAA Administrator Marion Blakey in Washington that the Port Authority will not invest in the physical changes needed to allow large planes to use the runways.
"None of them are ever going to land there," he said during a telephone interview immediately following the meeting. "We are not going to adapt our runways, create a blast fence, or expand our taxiways. We are not going to make those changes to Teterboro.
"We are not going to do anything from a practical standpoint to allow those planes to land there," Coscia said. "I can't tell you if she [Blakey] accepted it or rejected it, but she understood it."
Planes such as the Boeing Business Jet, a 737 converted for private use, are banned at Teterboro because they're heavier than 100,000 pounds - the design limit of the runways. Fully loaded 737s can weigh 135,000 pounds or more.
But the FAA's proposal says planes can't be barred because of their weight and requires airports to develop plans to handle them. The FAA instructed the Port Authority over the summer to come up with such a plan using the proposed policy as a guide. The Port Authority has yet to do so.
The proposal was devised after Boeing argued that Teterboro's weight restriction was discriminatory. The aerospace giant has long sought access to Teterboro for the owners of its Business Jets because of the airport's proximity to Manhattan.
It is unclear what effect Coscia's refusal to follow the proposal will have on the FAA's decision-making process.
"They explained what their concerns are," said FAA spokesman Jim Peters. "We had put out a notice on the weight-based limitations and we had received comments including those from the Port Authority. The Port re-amplified their concerns to us today.
"We will continue to work with the Port Authority to work through the issue," Peters said.
Boeing officials said the meeting was an "interesting approach."
"We are still waiting to see what the outcome of the policy is," said Steve Barlage, Boeing Business Jet regional sales director. "It may be [the Port Authority's] stance is not consistent with the rest of the industry."
Coscia said he was encouraged by the meeting and believed Blakey understood the Port Authority's concerns.
"The FAA can create a policy that says an airport can't restrict planes," he said. "But it's up to the airport to actually make the investments to make those changes. I think the administrator understood it is not something she could really force us to do."
Next week, Port Authority Aviation Director Bill DeCota is scheduled to travel to Washington to reinforce Coscia's argument with the FAA's technical staff.
DeCota will "review a number of technical aspects as to why we believe these aircraft should not be allowed to land at Teterboro," Coscia said.
The in-your-face challenge to the FAA's proposal is part of an effort by New Jersey's elected and appointed officials to quash the policy before it is put in place.
Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, has inserted a clause into the federal transportation spending bill that would stop the FAA from enforcing the rule at Teterboro.
The bill has been approved by the House and Senate and is in conference committee.
"The 737 Boeing Business Jet and other large aircraft do not belong at Teterboro Airport," Rothman said in a statement released last week following Senate approval of the bill.
Provisions of the deal would require airport operators to design or upgrade runways so they can handle every plane expected to use their airfield.
In addition, the policy states
that runways designed for lighter loads can occasionally handle heavier planes without a
problem. And that to keep out heavier planes, airport operators must prove that the excess
weight will damage runways.
wants Teterboro to let Boeing 737s land
With a wingspan of 117 feet and a tail four stories high, the Boeing Business Jet creates a striking silhouette.
It's an image North Jersey residents could soon see up close - as the 737 passes just hundreds of feet above the ground on approaches and takeoffs at Teterboro Airport.
"You'll hear it, and you'll look up and you'll know it," said J.P. Tristani, a former Eastern Airlines pilot who lives in Ramsey. "All of these people will be in for a shock."
Although residents of south Bergen towns bordering Teterboro have long complained about dangers they say are posed by the airport - noise, pollution, crashing planes - those in the northern reaches of the county have been largely silent on the issue.
That could change as Boeing Business Jets, converted 737s, descend over towns such as Oradell, Paramus, and Tenafly, dropping to altitudes of near 1,000 feet as they pass above.
"The northern towns are going to get a wake-up call the first time they hear a 737 BBJ over their houses at 2,000 or 3,000 feet," Tristani said.
The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing that airports nationwide, from the small local strips throughout New Jersey to the mega-sized passenger airports such as Newark Liberty International, develop plans to accept all planes, regardless of size.
Although the FAA has not yet adopted the policy, it has asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to abide by it at Teterboro.
Officials from the FAA, which approves its own policies, have repeatedly declined to comment on the proposal.
Up until now, Teterboro has been able to keep out large planes by imposing a 100,000-pound weight limit; the BBJ and Airbus 319 both weigh upward of 130,000 pounds.
But The Boeing Co., which has wanted to get its Business Jet into Teterboro for years, told the FAA that the weight limit amounts to discrimination against larger jets. Boeing lauded the FAA's proposed changes as a fair response that would not significantly affect the communities surrounding Teterboro.
Indeed, its Business Jet, although larger than the planes that routinely use Teterboro, is one of the quietest in production today.
The 737 also has one of the best safety records of any plane its size, some aviation experts say. It has been in production more than 30 years and more than 4,000 are in service worldwide.
Steve Barlage, director of regional sales for the Boeing Business Jet, said most people won't be able to tell the difference, "noise level wise," between a 737 and the smaller planes that now use Teterboro.
"They would never know the difference in planes flying overhead," he said.
Many of the pilots who frequent Teterboro approach the airfield using cockpit instruments and a series of beacons on the ground to guide their landings. This "instrument landing system" helps the pilot align the plane with the center of the runway in all weather conditions.
Planes using instruments are put into their flight pattern by New York approach control, located on Long Island. At about five miles out, planes must be at 1,500 feet and begin their descent to one of Teterboro's two runways, according to the FAA.
On a north-to-south approach, that puts the planes above the busiest town in Bergen County, Paramus. The planes essentially follow Forest Avenue south, fly over the Bergen Mall, and continue to Teterboro.
Coming from the east, planes will fly over densely populated Teaneck, dropping to about 1,200 feet as they fly over Holy Name Hospital.
As planes get closer, they move lower in the sky until reaching a point of decision at around 200 feet for Teterboro, FAA officials said. There, the pilot must decide if it is safe to land. A pilot could pull off after seeing that another plane had not left the runway, for instance.
If the pilot chooses not to land, in a maneuver called a "missed approach," the plane is pulled out of the descent and generally goes full power to climb back to 1,500 feet, circle to the left, and try again, FAA officials said.
The pattern is the same for all planes, regardless of size.
"The first missed approach, you'll see the difference when that power goes to the wall on a 737," Tristani said. "I guarantee you, if it's over The Record, you people will come out of your seats."
But sight and sound aside, aviation experts say there is little to worry about with regard to safety and larger planes, especially the 737.
"It's been a good performer," said Bill Waldock, an aviation professor specializing in safety at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona. "Boeing built these airplanes. They are using them for their corporate executives. They are going to be paying a lot of attention to these planes."
Still, the size of planes is causing worry in towns under the flight path.
"God forbid something falls near Garden State Plaza, Paramus Park, IKEA, places where there are thousands of people at any one time," said Paramus Mayor James Tedesco. "The magnitude of the devastation is almost incomprehensible because of the amount of people."
Combined, Boeing and Airbus have around 100 of their corporate jets in service and more are on order. For instance, the charter service Blue Moon Aviation out of Minneapolis-St. Paul plans to use the Airbus 319 to fly the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves from game to game. The $40 million plane is configured with 56 seats.
Waldock pointed to the small number of Business Jets in service as a limiting factor on the impact at Teterboro.
"How common is it going to be?" he asked rhetorically. "If you're talking 10 flights a day, you have a point. If you're talking one or two a week, it's not that big of a deal.
"I personally wouldn't have any heartburn with it coming into a place like Teterboro, but I like jet noise. Folks in the flight path might disagree."
The Port Authority certainly does. The PA, which operates Teterboro, is fighting to keep the larger planes out.
"One of the most important initiatives the Port Authority has undertaken is restricting aircraft weighing 100,000 pounds or more from utilizing Teterboro Airport," Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said. "This policy was enacted more than 30 years ago to make sure the airport is maintained in the public interest for the communities surrounding it."
Coscia has scheduled a meeting this month with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to discuss the proposal and the effect it would have on Teterboro.
"It seems the Port Authority does not want these larger planes to be introduced," said Teaneck Mayor Jacqueline B. Kates, whose town is part of a coalition looking to curtail operations at Teterboro. "I think it's really up to the FAA to recognize this is not an appropriate airport for these size planes."
The Port Authority is petitioning the FAA to abandon this new policy. Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, has introduced legislation that would prevent the FAA from implementing the rule at Teterboro. Many state and local lawmakers have introduced resolutions calling on the FAA to do the same.
For Kates, the very prospect of bigger planes is enough to make her shudder.
"It is very frightening,
especially after Sept. 11," she said. "We don't want it. This flight pattern
should not be going over dense residential areas."