I'm considering the purchase of a home in this area, isn't Francis S. Gabreski Airport (FOK) a "sleepy little airport"? The noise shouldn't bother me, right?
FOK averages approximately 100,000 aircraft operations each year. The airport is home to about 100 based aircraft and the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York National Guard, but has no commercial air carriers. While FOK is not a Kennedy International Airport or a LaGuardia Airport, annoyance by aircraft noise is a very personal issue. One individual can be greatly bothered by aircraft noise, while another individual may hardly notice the same noise. Additionally, this corridor does have air traffic. Transient flights from all over the country and the world fly through to use the nearby Calverton VOR (navigational beacon) to navigate up and down the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada, very large aircraft exiting or entering LaGuardia Airport and Kennedy Airport often fly through, as well as flights from local airports such as Easthampton, Farmingdale, and Macarthur Airport. Spend a considerable amount of time in and around any home that you consider purchasing. Talk to the neighbors. Go to the location on a number of different days, at a number of different times.
If aircraft noise can be a problem, why is the airport so close to a residential neighborhood?
Originally opening in 1943 as an Air Force Base, FOK has seen many of the world's aviation, political, and entertainment leaders pass through our gates, including Amelia Earhart, President Clinton, Vice-President Gore, President George W. Bush, President George H. W. Bush, Senator Ted Kennedy, Elton John, Diana Ross, Harrison Ford, and many more. The need for quick, convenient air transportation that attracted many of these famous figures to FOK, also attracted those looking to build a home. Additionally, as the communities adjacent to the airport grew, open space became even more attractive to developers. Residential neighborhoods developed around the airport. Even today, as Suffolk County calls for a more judicious approach to residential development around the airport, homes continue to be built near FOK.
Can't they just divert air traffic away from my neighborhood every once in a while?
No. First, let me state that FOK does not attempt to meet any numerical quota when dealing with air traffic control issues. The judgment of the air traffic controller (during Control Tower hours of operation), the wind, other weather factors, surrounding air traffic, the capabilities of the aircraft, and the judgment and capabilities of the pilot, all impact on the decision as to which runway to use for arrivals and departures, or which course to take. There is no attempt to use each runway an equal number of times within any given time period, or to fly over a particular neighborhood at any given interval. Safety is always our primary concern.
What is FOK doing about aircraft noise? Can't you fine those "problem" pilots? Can't you prevent them from using the airport?
Under 14 CFR 161 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not allow for the mandatory restriction of airport access in these matters without confirmation that such measures would greatly enhance noise abatement efforts and not unduly prohibit open access to the airport. The difficulty in meeting these criteria, and the high cost in performing such a study, has effectively prevented most airports from being able to mandate such restrictions since the rule came into effect in late 1990. The only exception to this rule is in cases where airports had such restrictions in place prior to the effective date of the law. Therefore, our Noise Abatement Program is voluntary. FOK is prohibited by Federal law from levying fines, or restricting access to the airport (or the routes by which aircraft access the airport) to aid our noise abatement program. We must rely solely on the continual notification, education, and compliance of our aircraft operators.
While almost everything we do at FOK is dictated overwhelmingly by safety considerations and adherence to Federal law, we continually strive to be good neighbors. We respond to inquiries in a timely manner, our noise abatement program includes a Voluntary Flight Curfew between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily, we provide recommended departure and arrival procedures, we maintain a comprehensive noise report data base, and we have an aggressive educational program aimed at informing and reminding FOK tenants about our noise abatement efforts and procedures. Additionally, our efforts coupled with technological advances in the aviation industry are making a significant reduction in terms of aircraft related noise.
Is being close to an airport going to reduce the value of my home in future years?
No. According to testimony provided to the New Jersey General Aviation Study Commission at a public hearing held on March 26, 1996, there is no negative impact on value. Mr. Winthrop Perkins, an expert on real estate issues dealing with airports and their environs, testified, "...when the market is essentially considered to be good in residential housing [property values], there is little or no distinction made between airport-related properties and properties that are [located] far away from an airport.... When the market is a soft market, you then begin to see some difference, not...in the price...but in how long it takes to sell...[the property]".
What time does FOK close?
Consistent with Federal Law; the airport is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) closes at 11 P.M., but aircraft still may operate after that time.
That plane was really low, aren't there rules about how high a plane or helicopter has to travel over a residential neighborhood?
Yes, but remember, the judgment of the air traffic controller (during Control Tower hours of operation, 7 A.M. to 11 P.M.), the wind, other weather factors, surrounding air traffic, the capabilities of the aircraft, and the judgment and capabilities of the pilot, all outweigh any other considerations, including any noise abatement procedures that are in place. If you wish to report such activity, you may leave a message on our Noise Report Mailbox at (631) 852-8095. You can also make a report on the Internet at GabreskiAirport.com
Yesterday afternoon, a plane flew past my house at a very low altitude. I want to complain to the pilot and his boss. Who is this individual?
There is no way to be sure. Federal Law does not require FOK to keep records on the identity of those pilots departing or arriving here. If you happen to see the aircraft's tail number, or can report the actual time, we may be able to research it further; otherwise we can only put your complaint into our database for general noise report analysis. While the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) does maintain certain pertinent records for a limited period of time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not allow the release of such information to the public, due to aircraft security concerns.
You may also contact the FAA, Eastern Region Headquarters, Noise Program Specialist at (718) 553-3365, or by e-mail at: 9-AEA-Noise@FAA.gov, for further information on aircraft noise.
Please remember, Federal Law calls for the greatest possible access to public airports. Anything that inhibits access, or invades the expectation of pilot privacy, is greatly restricted. In many ways, it's much like traveling on an interstate highway; the government has very little knowledge of most individual automobiles' destinations, reason for travel, etc., so to in the case of private air travel.
I heard about this "Voluntary Nighttime Flight Curfew". How does it work?
The curfew is in effect from 11 P.M. to 7 A.M., daily. If a "violation" of the voluntary curfew is identified, an advisory letter and information regarding FOK's Voluntary Noise Abatement Program is then sent to the owner/operator in question.
Although it is voluntary, and no penalties exist, activity during the 11 P.M. to 7 A.M. time period is much less than during our normal hours of operation.
If there is a "Noise Ordinance" in my town, isn't FOK in violation if they let aircraft fly at all hours?
No. As noted above, airport access is regulated by Federal Law, and as such, supersedes state and local ordinances.
How can I report bothersome aircraft noise?
You can report airport noise to FOK in three easy ways. You may call the Airport Administration, weekdays, 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., at (631) 852-8095. You can also leave a message after hours on our 24-hour Noise Report Hotline at (631) 852-8095, or fill out the noise complaint form here: Noise Complaint Form. You may also contact the FAA.
There was a pilot obviously flying very dangerously, can I report him?
If you witness aircraft flying in an unsafe manner, requiring more immediate attention, please contact the FAA Aviation Safety Hotline at 1-800-255-1111.