Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y. (17th CD), issued the following news release:
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the creation of the New York Aviation Rulemaking Committee to address air space congestion in the metropolitan area. Congressman Eliot Engel immediately urged that a proposed overflight redesign plan be deferred until NYARC completes its study.
Rep. Engel said, "Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, after meeting with the President Thursday, announced the establishment of the NYARC to explore market-based mechanisms and 'other options' to address airspace congestion in the New York area.
"I, along with three of my colleagues, immediately wrote to Secretary Peters urging her to hold off execution of the airspace redesign until at least 'your Aviation Rulemaking committee [has] an opportunity to review these issues and determine if we can address congestion and flight delays while mitigating the negative impact on our constituents.'"
The letter also cited what it called Federal Aviation Administration myopia in focusing on airspace redesign to solve the problems. "The many alternative mechanisms that were discussed at your press conference today (Thursday)," the letter said, "were literally ignored over the past several years. As a result, the effort to address congestion and flight delays will result in real winners and losers."
The four Members of Congress noted Secretary Peters said that "nothing is off the table" in seeking a solution adding, "It has long been our contention," they wrote, "that there are a variety of mechanisms that can meet the needs of air traffic consumers."
The four, Rep. Engel, and Reps. Scott Garrett, Christopher Shays, and Rodney Frelinghuysen, insisted that any proposed solution balance the needs of air travel, with those living in the communities beneath the air lanes.
They cited their amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill, which passed unanimously in the House, requiring a General Accountability Office study of other options for the FAA's redesign plan.
Rep. Engel said, "Now the White House and the Department of Transportation, (the supervising agency of the FAA), see the need for further study to balance the need of air travelers and the people who live in the flight paths. My sincere hope is that they will see the error of the FAA's ill-conceived plan and will seek a more balanced plan."
(A copy of the letter is attached.)
September 27, 2007
The Honorable Mary B. Peters
The Honorable Robert A. Sturgell
Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
Acting Administrator, FAA
1200 New Jersey Aye, SE800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20590 Washington, D.C. 20591
Dear Secretary Peters and Acting Administrator Sturgell:
We followed with great interest your press conference today following your Oval Office meeting to discuss airspace congestion in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area. As you know, this issue is amongst our highest priorities and one of the top concerns of our constituents who are faced with the potential for increased air and noise pollution as a result of the FAA's airspace redesign proposal.
We greatly appreciate your statements today that "nothing is off the table" in addressing airspace congestion and flight delay problems amongst the major New York-metro airports and that "market mechanisms" are strongly preferred solutions. It has long been our contention that there are a variety of mechanisms that can meet the needs of air travel consumers. In fact it has long been our concern that the FAA was leaving far too many of those options off the table and instead seeking to address congestion issues utilizing a change in airspace design alone. The House of Representatives unanimously agreed in approving the Shays-Garrett-Frelinghuysen-Engel amendment authorizing the GAO to study these other market-based options during recent consideration of the FAA reauthorization bill.
Any proposal with such a significant impact on quality of life issues should seek a balance between the needs of those engaging in air travel and those living in the communities beneath the airways. Regrettably, to many Members of Congress and to the hundreds of thousands of people we represent the FAA has appeared to be myopically focused on redesigning airspace to solve these problems. The many alternative mechanisms that were discussed at your press conference today were literally ignored over the past several years and, as a result, the effort to address congestion and flight delays will result in real winners and losers.
If all options are truly on the table, then we urge you to hold off any work to begin execution of the airspace redesign record of decision at least until your Aviation Rulemaking Committee and scheduling committees have had an opportunity to review these issues and determine if we can address congestion and flight delays while mitigating the negative impact on our constituents.
We appreciate your efforts on this issue and look forward to working with you.
Rep. Eliot Engel
Rep. Scott Garrett
Rep. Christopher Shays
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen