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Teterboro, FAA Officials: Quiet Flight Path Was Too Much Work For Pilots

Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse, center, with Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino and an air traffic control manager at Teterboro Airport.
Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse, center, with Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino and an air traffic control manager at Teterboro Airport. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

HACKENSACK, N.J. — An air traffic control manager at Teterboro Airport said the trial flight path for incoming planes — originally implemented to diminish aircraft noise and avoid Hackensack University Medical Center — was too much work for pilots and thus abandoned.

The officials made a three-part presentation Wednesday evening in Hackensack City Hall to help citizens understand why the flight path was terminated after six months ( SEE VIDEO FOOTAGE ON DAILY VOICE FACEBOOK PAGE ).

The Teterboro Administration Runway 19 Quiet/Charted Visual Approach along the Route 17 corridor was presented last year during a Teterboro Airport Noise Abatement Advisory Committee meeting called to address concerns regarding the flight path impacting the Hackensack Medical Center.

The information was intended to assist the FAA in conjunction with additional environmental review to determine if the proposed procedure can be charted permanently.

Testing began April 4, 2016 and it ran for a continuous six month period. Simultaneously, pilots had the option of utilizing the flight path that they were accustomed to — RWY 19, which flies directly over Hackensack Medical Center, Prospect Avenue — the most densely populated street in Bergen County — and other residential neighborhoods in the area.

That flight path utilizes an instrument landing system (ILS), the most common approach utilized by pilots which requires far less work than the quiet visual approach, officials said.

Over the course of the six month trial period, only 234 planes utilized the quiet visual approach while the rest opted for the RWY 19-er, the FAA said during the meeting.

Officials said manual entry of the landing waypoints increases the workload for pilots and requires a lot of "heads down" time when they are supposed to be flying.

When questioned by Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino, FAA officials said that both flight paths could work with instrumental landing systems.

Residents and city officials both complained of quality of life issues.

"You can not compare Teterboro today with the Teterboro from 40 years ago... when I purchased my home," Mayor John Labrosse said. "The noise generated by flights has gotten worse and worse."

Labrosse's wife is a teacher at the Hillers School in Hackensack, which is right in the RWY 19 flight path. On hot days, the windows must be kept closed so students can hear teacher's instructions without noise from planes, he said.

"It's sad that students and teachers must sit there w swear dripping off them to get an education because the noise is so loud," Labrosse said.

One resident said the planes over her Heath Place home are so loud that her grandson told his class that his grandmother lives at the airport.

Safety was among other concerns at the meeting, and Labrosse cited 12 documented plane crashes between 1980 and now — 20 fatalities and 28 serious injuries, he said. He and Canestrino anticipate statistics will rise.

"It's an accident waiting to happen," Canestrino said.

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