Norton, Co-Chair of Quiet Skies Caucus, Asks FAA Officials About NextGen and Plans to Reduce Aviation Noise

Jun 3, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, participated in the Subcommittee on Aviation’s roundtable “Final Approach: An Update on Air Traffic Control Modernization,” which took place on May 18, 2021. Norton used the opportunity to question the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about its plans to combat aviation noise.

In 2003, the FAA began a project, titled “Next Generation Air Transportation System” (“NextGen”), to refresh its air traffic control system with new technologies, such as Global Positioning System, fiberoptic broadband connections, and communications satellites that enabled transfers of vast amounts of data between aircraft in flight and ground facilities.  Since the development of NextGen, some of the changes in flight patterns aimed at increasing efficiency have created concentrated noise for those who live directly under those flight paths, frustrating communities that cannot get a break from the incessant flights overhead.

“As the FAA continues to adopt new technologies for air traffic control, decisionmakers must keep reducing aviation noise at the top of the priority list,” Norton said. “Aviation noise causes sleep disruption, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases. It also causes learning loss in schools and economic losses for businesses. The FAA must think not only about efficiencies in the sky but also impacts on the ground.”

Norton led a letter on March 10, 2021, from the Quiet Skies Caucus to the FAA in response to the FAA’s Neighborhood Environmental Survey results that showed that people were far more annoyed by aircraft noise than the FAA’s metrics would predict. On May 10, 2021, the FAA responded, agreeing to review their current aircraft noise metric and acknowledging that it may be flawed when used to determine noise policy.

A video recording of the roundtable can be viewed here.

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