A Delicate Balance

Few general aviation airports are put under the microscope, nor have the plethora of bizjets, as Teterboro Airport, just across the river from New York City. Here’s an update on efforts there to work with the local community and the regulators.

TETERBORO, NJ — With a rich aviation history — at one time home to airplanes of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart — Teterboro Airport here was once considered the busiest airport in the country with 1,000 daily operations. Today, says airport manager Lanny Rider, the airport sees some 200,000 operations annually, with 73 percent contributed to corporate jet activity. Its location, six miles from Manhattan, makes Teterboro integral to business aviation, even as communities have built up around the busy airfield. The challenge now, says Rider, is balancing airport and industry needs with the issues raised by surrounding communities, including air quality, safety, and noise.

The Port Authority purchased the once privately owned field in 1949 and operated it until 1970, when it leased it to PanAm World Services for a term of 30 years. When PanAm went out of business, explains Rider, the lease was sold to Johnson Controls, which operated the airport until the end of the lease in 2000. At that time, the Port Authority reestablished control of the airport.

Rider says it was a natural transition for the Port Authority to take back control of Teterboro. “Here in the metropolitan region, the Port Authority runs a system of airports... We felt that it was prudent at the time to move back in and exercise management control over Teterboro [to] run the system of airports as a four-airport system.”

Teterboro falls under the jurisdiction of three towns: Teterboro, Moonachie, and Hasbrouck Heights. It comprises 827 acres, of which a third are pristine wetlands and undevelopable. The airport is home to the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame Museum and five fixed base operations:

  • Signature Flight Support;
  • Million Air;
  • First Aviation Services;
  • Atlantic Aviation; and
  • Jet Aviation.

Some 38 million gallons of fuel flow through the airport each year. TEB has some 190 based aircraft, the majority corporate jets. The airport offers U.S. Customs and Immigration six days a week, two tours a day.

In addition to being vital to business aviation, Teterboro has direct employment of some 1,200 employees; direct, ancillary off-airport employment of some 5,000 people; 15,000 employees in the region with connections to the airport. The airport contributes some $670 million a year in direct sales and salaries to the local economy, as well as $1.8 billion into the region by various users of the airport.

At the Top of the List: Noise

“The unique programs that we deal with here really are orientated more toward the community and community acceptance,” explains Rider.

“Basically we have residential areas right up to the border of the airport.

“You try to develop a balance between the needs of industry and the air transportation system and the quality of life issues of those people that live their lives next to an airport.”

One way the airport has found success in community relations, explains Rider, is through a noise abatement advisory committee which meets quarterly and is comprised of elected officials from the 13 towns that surround TEB. “On a quarterly basis we have a way to come face to face with the community representatives, listen to their problems, tell them what’s going on at the airport, to keep them informed.”

The airport has a program to monitor aircraft noise. A series of microphones are placed in the communities surrounding the airport and then married up with radar data. If there is an issue with a specific operator or aircraft, it can be pinpointed and addressed. “We have very explicit data on all the aircraft operations coming and going from this airport,” says Rider.

Teterboro has a “three strikes and you’re out” program for noise violators. It basically states that if an aircraft operator violates the noise threshold more than three times in a two-year period, the aircraft can be banned from operating at TEB. The program was in place prior to the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, and thus was grandfathered. In addition, the airport has a voluntary nighttime operations restriction; a 100,000-lb. aircraft restriction; and, a ban on scheduled air carrier service.

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