Res­i­dents want so­lu­tions to BWI noise

Neigh­bors of air­port meet with FAA of­fi­cials to dis­cuss new flight paths over homes

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Colin Camp­bell The Bal­ti­more Sun Me­dia Group con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

Frus­trated neigh­bors of BWI Thur­good Mar­shall Air­port filled a school cafe­te­ria in Linthicum on Thurs­day night for a chance to con­front Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials about the in­creased jet noise caused by new, lower flight paths over their homes.

FAA rep­re­sen­ta­tives greeted about 100 peo­ple at Lin­dale Mid­dle School and ex­plained the rea­son­ing for the ad­justed flight pat­terns — part of a $35 bil­lion na­tion­wide air traf­fic over­haul in­tended to mod­ern­ize routes and save the air­lines tens of bil­lions of dol­lars in fuel.

The plan will save $160 bil­lion in fuel and other costs through 2030, ac­cord­ing to the FAA.

But sev­eral of the up­set res­i­dents said they didn’t come to be ed­u­cated on the rea­sons for the new pat­terns. They want them re­versed, they said, to be able to sleep at night and not have con­ver­sa­tions in­ter­rupted by planes fly­ing over — prob­lems that they said didn’t ex­ist be­fore.

Richard Ugian­sky, 80, a for­mer pilot who lives in Elmhurst, said planes used to fly a mile over­head. Now, he said, they fly at 850 feet.

“You can see ev­ery rivet on the air­plane,” he said. “And you can’t hear the per­son right next to you.”

The flight pat­tern dis­plays were ed­u­ca­tional, Ugian­sky said.

“But whether they ac­tu­ally let us do any­thing about it,” he said, “I doubt it.”

The new flight pat­terns have faced harsh com­mu­nity back­lash across the coun­try in the last year, in­clud­ing in Phoenix, where the city sued the FAA over the noise.

Jean Lahr, who lives near Ugian­sky in Elmhurst, said she could ver­ify that the noise isn’t just a prob­lem at BWI. She has vis­ited fam­ily mem­bers who live near the Phoenix air­port.

“They’re scream­ing about it, too,” she said.

Res­i­dents in both ar­eas don’t need any fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the rea­sons for the noise, Lahr said. They just want it to stop.

“I don’t think they’re here to hear our con­cerns,” she said. “We’ve al­ready heard the rules.”

Mary­land Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said in June that they want to re­vert to old air traf­fic pat­terns after hear­ing res­i­dents’ com­plaints. MAA and county of­fi­cials have pointed out in let­ters to the FAA that the flight pat­terns are not com­pli­ant with the air­port’s Noise Com­pat­i­bil­ity Pro­gram and the state’s Noise Abate­ment Plan.

Carmine Gallo, the FAA’s re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tor for the eastern re­gion, said he was un­aware that the lower flight pat­terns vi­o­late the lo­cal agree­ments.

Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for BWI and MAA, said state avi­a­tion of­fi­cials plan to or­ga­nize a round­table with lo­cal, state and fed­eral of­fi­cials to dis­cuss how to pro­ceed. He was less harsh than the neigh­bors in his view of the FAA’s ef­forts.

“They have in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to con­tinue to ex­am­ine fur­ther po­ten­tial changes to ar­rival and de­par­ture pro­ce­dures at BWI and through­out the D.C. Metro­plex,” Dean said.

The FAA is open to ad­just­ing the flight pat­terns, said Gallo, whose ter­ri­tory in­cludes Delaware, Mary­land, New Jersey, New York, Penn­syl­va­nia, Vir­ginia, West Vir­ginia and Wash­ing­ton.

“Ev­ery­thing’s sub­ject to change,” Gallo said.

But he ac­knowl­edged that any change to a fed­eral pro­gram won’t hap­pen quickly.

“It’s a slow, cum­ber­some process that some­times can take time,” Gallo said. “But we can move the nee­dle.”

Tom Lahr, 75, Jean Lahr’s hus­band, wasn’t op­ti­mistic. The air­plane en­gines roared over his house start­ing at 5:18 a.m. Thurs­day, he said.

“This meet­ing is to schmooze peo­ple, to con­vince them they need to live with this,” he said. “They’re try­ing to roll over the MAA and not bring their pro­ce­dures into com­pli­ance.”

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