Falling debris from aircraft that landed last week in the backyard of a Steward Manor resident who was on his way out to walk his dog was the talk of the jam-packed Aug. 25 meeting of the Town-Village Aircraft Safety & Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC).
Lee Ackerman typically walks his dog twice a day; when heading out for his afternoon jaunt with his four-legged friend on Tuesday, Aug. 19, he said noticed something in his backyard that wasn’t there that morning—an 11-inch by 12-inch sheet of metal, covered with aircraft maintenance text and graphite soot.
“I didn’t realize what it was at first, but according to the text, it was instruction information for monitoring and servicing the landing strut of an Air Bus 380,” he said. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has since confirmed that it’s from the interior of the wing landing gear…when the door opened to drop the landing gear down, the sign was in the landing gear bay.”
According to residents, Stewart Manor is already inundated with regular overhead air traffic heading to and from nearby John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport; needless to say, Ackerman finds the prospect of metal debris potentially raining down from these ever-present aircraft all the more troubling.
“Beyond the constant noise from the planes, it’s disconcerting to have parts of the planes falling on your home,” he said. “I was just happy that I wasn’t underneath the sign when it fell, but I don’t think anyone ever imagined that this would be happening.”
The FAA is still investigating the incident.
TVASNAC, a committee appointed by the town, started more than 40 years, to give residents of the Five Towns and surrounding areas a voice regarding issues with excessive air traffic; Ackerman’s neighbor and TVASNAC board member Cristina O’Keeffe attended a TVASNAC meeting in Stewart Manor on Aug. 25 where the issues raised by the falling debris incident were addressed.
“Kendall Lampkin, our executive director, said that he had called the FAA to get someone from there to attend the meeting, but they declined. He had also called the National Transit Safety Bureau, but they said they only investigate crashes and not just random debris,” he said. “In addition, Mr. Ackerman came and described with it was like, his experience with it, and people were able to ask questions and talk about what happens next.” O’Keeffe said the group has been working to effect change to improve the lives of residents in the middle of the concentrated air traffic area near JFK Airport; however, more help is needed from the public in order to find a lasting solution to the problem, and to ensure that what happened to Lee Ackerman isn’t a sign of things getting worse before they get better.
“I think that the main concern of Stewart Manor residents is that, in July of 2014, we received 42.2 percent of arrivals into JFK…they flew over our heads,” she said. “As of August 2014, construction started on a new runway at JFK, which means that we’ll get even more volume over our heads. That’s a big concern for us, because the more planes that go over our heads, the more possibility that, if stuff is falling, it will fall on us.”
“TVASNAC is informational, educational, and we have the ear of and the opportunity to have meetings with the New York Port Authority and the FAA,” O’Keeffe added.
Visit www.toh.li/tvasnac for more about the committee.