Congressional group seeks review of airplane noise standards

Communities near the Potomac River have complained about increased air traffic over residential homes. (Brian Kapur/The Current/September 2016)

The Quiet Skies Caucus of Congress is pressing for the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct an “expedited review” of its noise standards and undertake new health studies on the impact of airplane and helicopter noise.

The caucus, co-chaired by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, is an organization in Congress dedicated to reducing the impact of aircraft noise in communities across the nation. The group’s members made their two requests in a letter last week to the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, hoping for funding through its fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill.

“As the FAA updates flight procedures across the country, the number of impacted Americans only increases,” the caucus members wrote in their letter. “While we take our constituents concerns seriously, many of them feel the FAA dismisses those same concerns without due consideration.”

The caucus recommends that the aviation agency partner with “an eligible institution of higher education” on health studies to investigate the impacts of airplane noise and air pollution on affected residents. The caucus also asks the agency to “evaluate alternative metrics” to current models and simulations in order to measure noise impacts.

Signing onto last week’s letter were 18 Quiet Skies Caucus members, including Norton and her caucus co-chair, Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y. Meanwhile, Norton is working with the caucus to press the aviation administration for modified flight paths to Reagan National Airport, following noise complaints from communities along the Potomac River.