Federal Judge Milton Pollack left the strong impression today that he might provisionally overturn the New York Port Authority's ban on Concorde supersonic transport flights to Kennedy International Airport here.
Although the judge reserved his decision in the matter, probably until sometime next month, his questions to attorneys appeared to be on the side of permitting Concorde flights.
"How can you have a fair trial without test landings?" Pollack asked.
The Department of Transportation has authorized Air France and British Airways to fly regular Concorde service to Kennedy for a 16-month, closely monitored test period.
But the Port Authority, feeling pressure from a strong antinoise movement in Queens County, the airport's home, has not permitted the test.
Lawyers for the Concorde operators argued today that the authority had no right to overrule the federal decision authorizing the test. Citing treaties and Supreme Court decision, they said the federal government retains pre-emptive control of aircraft and airspace regulations.
But William Falvey, general counsel for the Port Authority, maintained that federal air commerce laws leave development and operation of airports to local bodies.
When differences arise between federal and local authorities, the locality generally gives way, Pollack said. "Isn't that the ball game?" he asked.
Concorde lawyers also argued that the U.S Constitution leaves in federal hands the control of treaties and international agreements. They cited bilateral agreements between the United States and Great Britain and the United States and France that guarantee aircraft landing rights.
At one point the judge suggested to Falvey that he read some court decisions on related problems "to help the Port Authority believe it is still part of the United States."
The judge also said that "it will be difficult for anyone to persuade me" that former Transportation Secretary William T. Coleman Jr. exceeded his authority when he permitted the tests in New York and Washington. "I hesitate to believe that. . . the Port Authority can contradict the federal government. . . ," he said.
Concorde has been flying regularly into Dulles International Airport since last May. Dulles is owned by the Department of Transportation, thus Coleman's decision automatically included approval for flights into Dulles.