Congressman Capuano Urges FAA to Shift Flight Paths Over the Water at Logan

Last week U.S. Congressman wrote a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging them to take the same action at Logan International Airport as the agency took recently in California.

Earlier this year the FAA reached an agreement with two California cities, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, about flight paths that commercial jets will follow out of John Wayne Airport (JWA).  There the FAA agreed to move JWA’s departure paths so jet aircraft would fly directly out over the ocean rather than over residential areas.

“I am compelled to note that the basis of the JWA agreement- that is moving air traffic quickly and adroitly over the water and away from residential areas – has been an ongoing question for Boston Logan International Airport as well,” wrote Capuano in his letter to the FAA. “As well given that FAA has signed the JWA agreements without the benefit of first conducting a study, I must ask the question-can the FAA make a similar directive for Logan’s runway use? That is, can the FAA direct air traffic must use runways that have a water only approach or, at least, put air traffic over the Harbor as soon as possible after take-off and keep air traffic over water for as long as possible before landing?”

In a phone interview last week, Capuano said airlines like JetBlue have already implemented takeoffs over water at Logan, and he hopes a directive from the FAA would force more airlines to follow suit.

“Obviously safety must come first and that has to be the FAA and Massport’s top priority,” said Capuano. “With that said, unless there is some specific safety or tactical reason for not taking off over the water I think it is time to start exploring that option. There are going to be times when Logan will have no choice but to takeoff over residential areas but all I’ve ever asked for from the FAA is to work with me and the community to minimize quality of life impacts as much as possible.”

Capuano said both the current FAA and Massport administrations have been more cooperative in listening to the needs of the community and trying to adjust accordingly to lessen airport related impacts.

“For the past two years they have been more cooperative,” said Capuano. “I have to say that Massport’s CEO Thomas Glynn has been engaged and is trying to help. I think a lot of it has to do with more communities joining in and a growing chorus from residents in places like Milton and Somerville as well as groups like the Quiet Sky Coalition has helped. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the noise pollution from Logan is not just isolated to East Boston or South Boston. Look, at my house in Somerville I can hear the planes when they depart from Runway 15/33, not as much as East Boston or Chelsea residents, but the noise is there.”

Capuano added that he’s not looking for a shift in flight paths that currently impact one area.

“Taking off over the ocean is the best approach in my opinion,” said Capuano. “The problem with shifting flight paths, say from Southie or Milton, to another area is that you are only shifting the problem and its impacts from one residential area to the next and it solves nothing.”

Capuano said that Massport and the FAA are currently connecting a joint study to test ways to lessen the impact of air traffic on residents living under flight paths. The study is being led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor John Hansman.

“I have terrific respect for Professor Hansman and his team and I appreciate Massport and FAA’s partnership in trying to find real solutions to air traffic noise,” said Capuano. “I just hope the FAA is willing to do something, like in California, before the study is completed.”

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