Neighbors Want Planes Rerouted From Fort Lauderdale Airport

Monday's plane crash gave life to the worst fears of residents who have spent years trying to persuade Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration to reroute planes away from from their neighborhoods.

Homeowners associations in Coral Ridge Isles and Knoll Ridge, the Lake Estates Improvement Association and other groups have long complained of the noise and danger caused by low-flying aircraft.

''This is our worst nightmare right here,'' said Linda Bird, president of the Lake Estates Improvement Association. ''We all predicted that it was going to happen. We just didn't know when.''

The homeowners want all east- and southbound jets departing from Runway 26 to be diverted north, along Interstate 95. The move would dramatically reduce noise in their neighborhoods, they say.

Executive Airport has made the same recommendation to the FAA, but the federal agency declared the change unsafe, said airport manager Clara Bennett.

The FAA agreed to route those flights north at night, but deemed daytime airspace near I-95 too crowded during the day, due to traffic from other, nearby airports.

The airport also is working on other noise abatement measures, such as continuous noise monitoring, pilot education, the closing of another runway at night and preferential departures for westbound flights on runway 26 at night, Bennett said.

She said the city is committed to finding new noise-reduction strategies to propose to the FAA.

''We plan to continue and analyze new procedures that maybe the FAA will consider,'' she said, ''but the FAA has the final say.

Monday's close call when a DC-3S crashed and burned on a residential street left residents feeling as though their neighborhoods were at risk, Bird said.

As of Monday evening, several homeowners associations planned to hold an emergency meeting to discuss safety issues.

No one on the ground was hurt in the crash, and the three people on board survived, but the plane could have crashed into any of four nearby schools or a nearby hospital, Bird said.

Cindy Caird, 59, is a former flight attendant who lives a few blocks from the crash site.

''It's scary. It's really, really scary,'' she said. ''They're taking off over us, so low.''

Caird said the riskiest moments in a flight are the three minutes after takeoff and eight minutes before landing.

''You always have that fear when you live near the airport,'' she said.