FAA cites over 42,000 complaints of plane noise from residents near Washington airports
The FAA’s annual aircraft report lists 42,683 complaints about noisy flights from Reagan airport (Washington) and Dulles International airport (Washington) in 2016. That compares with just 10,000 complaints the year before. Many people are complaining about planes about every three minutes, all day long. People say the plane noises increased tremendously since December 2015. That’s when the FAA launched a new GPS navigation tool called the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen for short. The system, which takes the place of radar, allows planes to travel safely at closer distances, and to use more direct routes – and means concentrated, narrow flight paths. Upset residents call the flight paths “sacrificial noise corridors,” with the same routes being used continually, over the same homes and neighbourhoods. People are being badly affected, and unable to use their outdoor space, because of noise intrusion. Local group the “DC Fair Skies Coalition” is suing the FAA to move routes back to over the Potomac and other waterways, as they were before. The FAA is unwilling to change anything, as the concentrated routes improve their efficiency and save airlines a small amount of money on fuel. One resident said, on plane noise: “It goes away, but as soon as the noise is gone, another plane starts.”
FAA cites over 40K complaints of plane noise from residents that live near local airports
by ABC7, Richard Reeve
September 19th 2017
WASHINGTON (ABC7) You’d expect to hear airplane noise at Gravelly Point.
The Arlington park, in sight of Reagan National Airport, is, after all, a plane watcher’s paradise.
But miles away, Anne Hollander wakes up to that roar every morning at her Bethesda home.
“It’s like a snooze button that won’t go off,” she says. “I hear them all day, every day.”
Hollander is among the thousands who’ve complained about the noise issues to the Federal Aviation Administration.
She says it starts at 5:50 a.m., and continues every two to three minutes until after midnight.
She says she wears earplugs to bed, and a pillow over her head.
It doesn’t help much, she states.
“It sounds like something’s coming at me,” Hollander says. “I think that’s part of why it’s such a disturbing quality of noise, it’s a very unnatural noise.”
The FAA’s annual aircraft report lists 42,683 complaints about noisy flights from Reagan and Dulles International in 2016.
That compares with just 10,000 complaints the year before.
“This is what it’s like, every three minutes on average, all day long,” says J.P. Szymkowicz, who was talking louder and louder as various planes flew over his Foxhall Village neighborhood. He says plane noises increased tremendously in December of 2015.
That’s when the FAA launched a new GPS navigation tool called the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen for short.
The system, which takes the place of radar, allows planes to travel safely at closer distances, and to use more direct routes.
Szymkowicz is not a fan of the new flight paths.
“They fly directly over our house, and the intensity has gotten worse, and the frequency has gotten worse,” he says.
Upset residents call the flight paths “sacrificial noise corridors,” with the same routes being used again and again.
“They basically put the airplanes in the exact same homes and neighborhoods all day, every day,” Hollander says.
In some cases, the routes have changed how people live their day.
Peter Van Allen lives in the Hadfield Lane neighborhood, about a mile or so north of the Potomac River.
“We’re out having dinner on the front porch and about every two minutes you can’t hear anything,” he says.
Van Allen is a member of the “DC Fair Skies Coalition,” which is suing the FAA to move routes back to over the Potomac and other waterways.
“They (FAA officials) say we’re not going to do anything,” he says. “They say it’s to help the airlines save money on gas and to help their scheduling.”
Authorities say about 4,000 aircraft fly in the District’s airspace every day.
One interesting section of the FAA report details how a single Foxhall resident has filed 17,273 complaints about noise at Reagan.
Another resident filed more than 1,800 complaints.
“The Montgomery County Quiet Skies Coalition,” which includes members from 7,500 homes, is working with elected officials to get the flight plans changed.
In recent weeks, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also called on Attorney General Brian Frosh to take legal action against the FAA.
Hollander is a member of the Quiet Skies group.
“We believe the answer is that they should be dispersed more equitably across the region,” she says. “Really, nobody would notice them that much.”
The FAA sent a written statement to ABC7 News, which says in part:
“The FAA is working with airports and airlines throughout the country to improve the safety and on-time performance of air travel. These actions have noise implications. As a result, the FAA has worked closely with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the Maryland Aviation Administration to address community noise complaints in neighborhoods near the three DC-area airports.”
The Foxhall Community Citizens Association is to meet Tuesday night with District officials to discuss the results of their study about airplane noise in the Foxhall/Palisades neighborhoods.
Another group, the BWI Roundtable, is also meeting that night to discuss noise issues around that Airport.
Hollander hopes the public efforts will at least change the routes of planes flying over residential neighborhoods like hers.
And perhaps will help cut down on the noise from the skies.
“It goes away, but as soon as the noise is gone, another plane starts,” she says.