Airport Noise: Fifteen Ways to Quiet the Skies
- Increase local control of airports. Demand that two-thirds of
airport commission members live within the high impact area where
average day/night levels exceed 65 dBA (what the FAA calls moderate
noise exposure). Also, increase local control with regard to expansion,
number and time of takeoffs, landings, ground operations, etc.
- Remove FAA from oversight of environmental quality and public
health.This would remove a significant conflict of interest for the
FAA which has too often seen its role as promoting air transportation.
Noise and other environmental pollutants need to be regulated by some
combination of EPA and local oversight.
- Abandon the day/night sound pressure level of 65 dBA that the
FAA uses to separate low noise exposure from moderate
noise exposure. The 65 dBA value is too noisy and unhealthy. Use 55
dBA as an interim value until a descriptor that includes low frequency
noise, and better reflects the impacts of aircraft noise such as sleep
disturbance, interference with learning, and other noise impacts.
- Develop a high-speed rail alternatives to aircraft flights of
less than 500 miles. Redirect government investment from airport
expansion to high-speed rail. Also, support efforts to quiet rail
- Protect the public from environmental and health hazards at and
near airports. These include the release of significant amounts of
toxins, known carcinogens and de-icing fluids. Existing Clean Air and
Clean Water regulations need to be enforced and new regulations
addressing the public health and environmental impacts of airports and
airplane travel need to be adopted.
- Support a Global Nighttime Curfew. Around the world,
hundreds of airports already have curfews. Local nighttime curfews,
while a positive step, shift the problem elsewhere. A nationwide and
global effort is needed.
- Demand that airports and airlines pay the full cost of airline
travel. Remove all FAA subsidies; increase landing fees to cover
lost property value, insulation programs, health effects, and annoyance;
increase fuel taxes to account for environmental and public health
damage; and remove local subsidies.
- Expand soundproofing programs to all homes, churches, schools,
hospitals, and commercial businesses experiencing a day/night average of
greater than 55 dBA from airports. Eventually, all sensitive
properties--homes, churches, schools, day care, hospitals, etc.--should
be protected against indoor single event readings exceeding 45 dBA with
windows open. Insulation and soundproofing alone, however, is not the
solution because it neglects outdoor noise. Insulation does not provide
for the full enjoyment of common and private property. However, at least
it protects people inside their homes.
- Demand objective health studies of noise and other pollutants
- Support quieter and cleaner aircraft technology (called Stage
IV). Stage IV technology may be years away, and in the future,
aircraft may achieve smaller reductions in pollution, both in terms of
air and noise pollution. Therefore, Stage IV technology should not be
relied upon as the main solution to aircraft pollution. Nevertheless,
technological improvements should be aggressively pursued.
- Ban flights over and within 2 miles of non-urban National
Parks, Wilderness areas, National Monuments, National Seashores, and
other sensitive and pristine public lands (except for emergency,
research, construction and maintenance activities).
- Increase the minimum altitude for general aviation craft and
helicopters to 2,000 feet above ground level and implement an
effective policing mechanism. Impose a minimum flight altitude for 2,500
feet above ground level for all tour operations and commercial transport
services (for example, air taxis).
- Ban commercial and corporate SST flights from United States
Airports and airspace.
- Avoid solutions that shift noise to others. The FAA likes to
pit one community against another because it divides opposition to its
policies. A fairer distribution of noise might make sense for many
airports, but moving the noise around doesnt solve the problem and
divides people who should be united against airport noise. The problem
of airport noise will not be solved one airport at a time. Persons with
airport noise problems must unite. Significant changes in the FAA will
likely occur only when airport groups can show significant power and
support to Washington.
- Foster connections with and support other noise pollution
organizations. A victory for any group fighting noise is a victory
for all. This is the only way to create a broad enough coalition to
actually reduce noise pollution.