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Delta ditches regular MD-88s at LaGuardia

From QChron.com:

Delta Airlines is making Queens’ skies a little quieter.

The airline announced on March 2 that it will no longer be regularly flying the approximately 30 MD-88 aircrafts it operated daily. Less noisy and more fuel-efficient planes — Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s and a limited group of MD-90s — will fly on the MD-88 routes. The edict immediately took effect.

Delta operates just under half — approximately 270 daily departures — of flights out of LaGuardia. Prior to the company’s announcement around 30 of those planes were MD-88s.

Borough activists and lawmakers who disliked the cacophonous planes were pleased.

“They are the noisiest planes,” New York Community Aviation Roundtable Coordinating Committee Vice Chairman Warren Schreiber told the Chronicle. “Whenever they flew over the neighborhoods, everybody knew that Delta was flying the MD-88s.”

The directive does not totally ban the planes. Airline spokeswoman Elizabeth Wolf said that the MD-88s may be used in “extenuating or irregular circumstances,” but there are no existing deployment plans for the plane.

“As someone who has experienced MD88s registering 96 decibels over my home, I am delighted that Delta is removing these planes from its fleet at LaGuardia several years ahead of schedule,” quiet skies advocate Susan Carroll said in an emailed statement.

The announcement comes less than three weeks after the New York Community Aviation Roundtable — a citizens’ airport oversight body that Delta is a member of — finally ratified its bylaws.

Queens Quiet Skies President Janet McEneaney, a Bayside resident who for years has called for an end to excessive airplane noise over the borough, pointed to the work that activists have done.

“Delta’s decision demonstrates that continued pressure by our communities and elected officials can produce change,” she said in an emailed statement.

Like Carroll, McEneaney pointed out that the MD-88 planes have gone beyond 90 decibels, a level that far exceeds the 65 decibels that the Federal Aviation Administration uses for the day-night average sound level limit.

Sixty-five is widely considered by quiet skies activists to itself be too tall a threshold. An increased risk of cardiovascular disease is among the noxious health effects that researchers have found those who live near airports with flights in excess of 65 DNL are prone to. Many seeking to bring airplane noise levels down say that 55 DNL should be the maximum permitted.

While such a change remains to be seen, Delta’s move to ax the MD-88s from its regular schedule was widely considered a positive one.

“Delta’s move will have a positive impact on airplane noise over our borough and it will make a difference to those who reside near the airport,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to building on this switch to quieter aircrafts, and working with airline officials to further mitigate airplane noise.”

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