Crowley and Ackerman Secure Bird Strike Prevention Plan from FAA for Proposed Garbage Facility Next to La Guardia Airport

Jan 26, 2010 Issues:

Washington, D.C. —U.S. Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-Queens/Bronx) and Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/L.I.) announced today that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to implement an unprecedented bird strike prevention plan (to prevent collisions between birds and airplanes) for the proposed trash transfer station in College Point, Queens which the New York City Department of Sanitation plans to build just 2000 feet from LaGuardia Airport’s eastern runway.
For three years, Crowley and Ackerman have warned that the garbage at the facility could attract birds and increase the threat of bird strikes to planes landing and taking off from LaGuardia. These concerns were heightened over the past year after U.S. Airways flight 1549 – which departed from LaGuardia – crash landed into the Hudson River after birds struck the aircraft’s engines.  

Under the FAA’s plan – which the agency agreed to implement due to Crowley and Ackerman’s concerns – the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will monitor all bird activity around the trash site. This will be accomplished through an on-site biologist who will visit the facility once a week for the first two years that the trash station is in operation. If the USDA’s biologist discovers an increase in bird activity, the FAA will order the facility to be shut down. The transfer station would only be permitted to reopen once the increased number of birds is reduced.

These increased safety measures are the first of its kind for any garbage facility in the United States. The plan has been agreed to by the Department of Sanitation through a memorandum of understanding with the FAA.

“Just days after the one year anniversary of the ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ bird strikes remain a real threat to the neighborhoods surrounding LaGuardia Airport as well as to millions of airline passengers each year,” said Crowley. “The FAA’s bird strike prevention plan is a positive step towards averting a future accident, but the Department of Sanitation should take additional steps to ensure the safety of this facility.”

“Although we remain opposed to the Department of Sanitation constructing this facility so close to LaGuardia’s runway, it is a positive development that the FAA will closely monitor the bird population in and around the trash station and attempt to mitigate the chances of birds colliding with airplanes” said Ackerman. “We hope this significant concession we secured will ensure increased safety to the flying public and to the communities near the airport.”

In addition to the bird-strike prevention measure, the Department of Sanitation agreed to lower the height of the planned waste transfer station by 12-feet after Crowley and Ackerman warned officials of the possible danger its original height would have caused to airplanes arriving and departing from LaGuardia. Under its revised height, the structure will be 100-feet tall.