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"Good neighbors keep their noise to themselves."

Ban Nighttime Flights

The FAA has published its Draft Aviation Noise Abatement Policy and is asking for comments. Please take 20 minutes to write comments to the FAA objecting to nighttime flights. We want to make sure the FAA hears from citizens and not just the industry. The last revision occurred in 1976, so it is likely that we will be stuck with this new policy for 25 more years.

One of the most serious problems with the Draft Noise Abatement Policy is that sleep disturbance is almost totally neglected. This is the most glaring omission from the Noise Abatement Policy document. Sleep disturbance is mentioned only four times in the approximately 25,000 word document, and then, in a tangential manner. Yet it is one of the most devastating aviation noise impacts.

Nighttime flights repeatedly wake neighbors. Repeatedly waking people up at night in their own homes is one of the most uncivil things people can do to each other. Moreover, sleep loss and its resulting health effects cause billions of dollars in lost productivity, thousands of car and workplace accidents, and strained family and friend relations.

Noise induced sleep loss is caused by noise spikes of 8-10 dBA above background levels (Griefahn, B., 1990, Research on Noise and Sleep: Present State, Noise as a Public Health Problem, Vol. 5, Swedish Council for Building Research, Stockholm.). It is not uncommon for airplanes to cause sleep interference, when single event aircraft noise exceeds 55 decibels outside. Sleep interference without awakenings, which can reduce the quality of sleep by shifting sleepers out of deeper levels of sleep, can occur at lower levels.

Communities typically adopt noise ordinances to protect against nighttime sleep interference. That is why they often choose 50 dBA as the nighttime maximum. The same limit should apply to aircraft. For airports, this would be equivalent to a curfew. Currently, curfews are used to achieve nighttime peace and quiet at many airports around the world.

The primary user of nighttime flights is the air cargo industry. A nighttime curfew policy would by no means end the overnight delivery industry. The likely result of a curfew would be that for early morning deliveries, packages would have to be mailed earlier the day before (so that they could be shipped by a plane that lands before 10 PM). Similarly, if the package is mailed late in the afternoon (so that it is unable to meet the 10 PM curfew), it would be delivered later on the following day. Most importantly, the entire industry would have to play by the same rules, so that there would be no competitive advantage given to any carrier.

Please write to the FAA at the address given below and tell them the Noise Abatement Policy did not address how to eliminate sleep interference. Ask them to eliminate sleep interference by:

Please state these points in your own words and tell the FAA why you want to ban nighttime flights.

Send comments in triplicate to:
Federal Aviation Administration
Office of the Chief Counsel
Attention: Rules Docket (AGC-200)
Docket No. [30109]
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591

You may also submit your comments via email.
Click here for instructions.

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