Preview-Sarlo: Port Authority Should Help Reduce Flights At Teterboro

TRENTON – Senator Paul A. Sarlo today said he wants a legislative hearing Monday to highlight the need for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to help reduce the number of flights coming in and out of accident-troubled Teterboro Airport.

“I’m confident our effort to reduce flights at Teterboro will take off once we get the power of the Port Authority behind us,” said Senator Sarlo, Chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee.

Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia will be the leadoff witness Monday when the panel begins collecting testimony on how to get the Federal Aviation Administration to sanction a significant reduction in last year’s total of 200,000 takeoffs and landings at the heavily used commercial airport.

“Previous administrations at the Port Authority have taken a hands-off approach to requests for reducing flights, claiming it was a federal issue beyond their control,” Senator Sarlo said. “But I just have to believe a bi-state agency overseeing the major metropolitan airports will have the needed clout with the FAA.”

Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, said reduction in flight capacity is the key to long-range safety improvements being implemented by the Port Authority at Teterboro. The agency recently announced a $20 million safety improvement plan at Teterboro including the installation of safety beds by the summer of 2007.

The small airport located in a high-density area has been the site of three airplane accidents this year including the crash of a 20-ton corporate jet that failed to lift off and, instead, ripped through an airport fence, crossed six lanes of Route 46 and crashed into a clothing warehouse, injuring 20 people, including two motorists.

“Somehow, we’ve been able to avoid fatalities so far this year, but we need more than luck to keep that record intact,” Senator Sarlo said.

Others scheduled to testify at the hearing are Jack Olcott, President of the New Jersey Aviation Association; Michael McGahn, Chief of the Moonachie Police Department, and Dennis Marco, a Director of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. in Room 1 of the State House Annex.