Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mass. lawmakers decry loud JetBlue landings at Logan

Members of Massachusetts’ Congressional delegation are asking JetBlue to retrofit its older aircraft with noise-reducing equipment to make their descent into Logan International Airport less disruptive.

The Nov. 21 letter to JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes repeated a September request made by Milton’s board of selectmen asking the airline to install “vortex generators” that would reduce a high-pitched whistling sound emanating from aircraft during landing.

“Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa — and most recently, United Airlines — have voluntarily retrofitted, or have developed plans to retrofit, their series A320 aircraft with vortex generators,” the letter stated. “We ask JetBlue to thoroughly evaluate the Milton board of selectmen’s request.”

Philip Stewart, a spokesman for JetBlue, said the airline had received the letter and would respond to the request after a full review.

In recent years, noise complaints from Milton and other communities in the Boston area have surged as a result of a new navigation system deployed by the Federal Aviation Administration that concentrates more planes into narrower flight paths.

The FAA began rolling out the new GPS-based navigation system in 2013, saying it could plot takeoffs and landings at Boston’s Logan Airport more precisely, improving safety and efficiency.

The letter to JetBlue, signed by US senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and representatives Michael E. Capuano and Stephen F. Lynch, said numerous communities have recently experienced increased airplane noise.

Noise-reducing vortex generators should be considered for JetBlue’s Airbus A320 series aircraft built prior to 2014, the letter said. Retrofitting would involve mounting small air flow detectors on the underwings of aircraft, it said.

In October, also under pressure from federal lawmakers, the FAA and the Massachusetts Port Authority — which operates Logan — said they were creating a task force to investigate flight patterns and noise problems.

Researchers, led by R. John Hansman Jr., a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, are currently studying alternatives for Logan landings. Possibilities include planes flying into Logan at higher altitudes, over the ocean, or in airspace above a major highway.

(Magen Woolhouse - Boston Globe)

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