Airport Noise Updates
FAA Releases Results of Neighborhood Environmental Survey (NES) on Airport Noise and Requests Comments by March 15, 2021
The Federal Aviation Administration has recently released the results of its Neighborhood Environmental Survey (NES), a nationwide survey regarding annoyance related to aircraft noise.
The FAA is also requesting public comments on the survey results through a Federal Register (FR) notice. The public comment period is open until March 15, 2021.
County residents and workers impacted by aircraft noise are encouraged to review the NES results and submit public comments to the FAA.
Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study Online Feedback
Arlington County and Montgomery County have jointly funded a study to identify, evaluate and propose mitigations to reduce aviation noise impacts on communities north of Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The study is being conducted by ABCX2, who will provide technical resources to elected officials, staff, and the North of Airport Committee of the DCA Community Working Group. The online feedback was open from August 21 through September 21, 2020. Stay tuned for engagement feedback results and next steps!
Kick-off Meeting: Airplane Noise Virtual Community Conversation & Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study
Led by Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, Board Member Matt de Ferranti, and Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson, this virtual conversation was the kick-off to the joint Arlington-Montgomery County Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study. Watch a recording of this virtual conversation on YouTube or view the slideshow presentation.
Airport Noise Mitigation Study
In May 2019, Arlington signed a contract with Montgomery County, Maryland to jointly fund a study that will identify, evaluate and propose important mitigations to reduce aviation noise impacts on Arlington residents, Montgomery residents and other communities north of Reagan Washington National Airport. Arlington issued a Request For Proposals for the study in October 2019 and expects to award the contract to a vendor in the first quarter of 2020. The contractor will provide elected officials, staff, and representatives of the DCA Community Working Group with technical resources to better understand the detailed nature of airspace management and possible alternatives, and assist with coordination among the surrounding jurisdictions, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the FAA. Each jurisdiction has pledged to contribute $125,000 to the study.
HOLTB Flight Procedure at Reagan National Airport (DCA)
The FAA comment period on the new north-bound departing flight procedure at DCA closed March 30, 2020. The Arlington County Board submitted comments strongly opposing the new procedure that went into effect on January 31, 2020. We thank all residents who submitted comments to the FAA about the impact the new flight procedure is having on Arlington. County staff will be reviewing all published documentation with the Board and the County Manager to inform the next steps and a future course of action.
Also in March, the County awarded a contract for an aircraft noise study, jointly funded by Arlington and Montgomery counties:
- Arlington County Board Protests HOLTB flight Path Changes to FAA Administrator
- Arlington County Awards Contract for Aircraft Noise Study
February 12, 2020, County Board Update to the Community on Flight Path Changes
Letter to the FAA on Flight Path Changes
On Nov. 4, 2019, the Arlington County Board sent a letter of opposition to the FAA regarding proposed changes to flight procedures at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The FAA and the United States Secret Service (USSS) presented the proposed changes to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) DCA Community Working Group on May 23, 2019. Read the full letter.
Tools For Residents Affected by Aircraft Noise
File a Noise Complaint
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which operates Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), funds and operates a noise monitoring system with 15 noise monitor locations in the communities surrounding DCA. While noise statistics and complaint information are not used as a basis for the environmental review of existing or planned operating procedures, they do serve a very important purpose in providing individual residents, neighborhoods, and communities with a direct venue to provide their feedback and comments on the community impact of airport operations. This is an incredibly important tool for the MWAA Community Working Group in identifying areas for further analysis and consideration.
Follow the Work of the MWAA Community Working Group (CWG)
In the fall of 2015, MWAA established the Reagan National Airport Community Working Group. Comprised of two community representatives each from Arlington County, Wards 2,3, 6,7, and 8 in the District of Columbia, City of Alexandria, and Dranesville and Mount Vernon Supervisor Districts of Fairfax County, MWAA has tasked the group with identifying and recommending practical noise mitigation initiatives to the FAA by the summer of 2016. Mr. Ron Montague has been chosen by the Arlington County Board to serve as our community’s representatives in this important effort.
MWAA has established a webpage for the Group, which will provide regular updates, including meeting minutes and presentation materials.
Review Noise Reports and Data
MWAA compiles noise monitor information and complaint statistics into an annual report. Read the 2016 Report.
More detailed noise monitor data and reports, published monthly, can be found on the MWAA Noise Data Portal.
About Airport Noise in Arlington
Commercial airplane noise associated with Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) is increasingly impacting Arlington residents and residents throughout the National Capital Region. While Arlington County does not have any jurisdiction or authority to regulate aircraft operations at DCA, we understand that this has become a quality of life issue for some of our residents. The County Board will continue to forcefully advocate for reducing and mitigating the impact of aircraft noise on our community.
In doing so, we must work with our partners at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who control airport flight paths and the additional restrictions specific to National Airport, such as the slot and perimeter rules and the nighttime noise rule, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), who operates the airport.
Along with MWAA and the FAA, Arlington County has provided residents with information about the past, current and future operations at DCA; kept residents informed of efforts underway to refine arrival and departure procedures which may have a positive impact on noise, and provided residents with venues to express your opinion and ask questions directly to those responsible for the airspace and the airport.
Understanding Aircraft Noise
The following websites provide a wealth of information to help Arlington residents learn more about aircraft noise generally and noise from airport operations at DCA specifically:
This webpage includes helpful information, such as:
• Noise abatement procedures specific to DCA
• Links to the Authority’s annual noise report
• Contact information for MWAA’s Noise Office for DCA
• Link to DCA WebTrak, a public portal that provides access to noise and flight track data and the opportunity to file a noise complaint or voice their concerns regarding individual flight operations
Helicopter Noise Complaints: The FAA is responsible for approving all low-flying helicopter flight paths. You can file a complaint about helicopter noise with the FAA’s Aviation Noise Ombudsman at 9-AWA-NoiseOmbudsman@ffa.gov.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), whose district includes Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church, has been working with other representatives in the region on the problem of low-flying helicopters and how to mitigate their impact on residents. Call the Congressman’s District Office at 703-658-5404 to let him know how helicopters are impacting you, or visit his website to file an online complaint.
Helicopter Safety Complaints: If you believe that a helicopter is flying unsafely, the FAA Flight Standards District Office for Washington, DC at 703-230-7664. You can also submit comments through an online form. The FSDO does not deal with noise complaints. It is responsible for aviation safety and investigations of citizen complaints are undertaken to determine if the helicopter is being operated in accordance with aviation regulations. When registering a complaint with the FSDO, it is important to have as many pertinent facts as possible, including helicopter characteristics or identification, time and location of the event.
You can view an online map of the helicopter routes for Reagan Washington National airport on the FAA website. (The latest one was last updated on June 20, 2020).
• Dec. 20, 2019 Aircraft Noise Update
• Oct. 11 2019 RFP for Consulting Service in Support of Study of Aircraft Noise
• June 7, 2019 Sound, then fury: FAA surprises group with plans to change Reagan National flight paths
• June 6, 2019 Capital Region Members Announce GAO Study on Helicopter Noise in Washington Metro Area
• Sept. 12, 2016 Letter to the Federal Aviation Administration
• April 2016 Airport Noise Meeting MWAA Presentation
• Sept. 4, 2015 Letter to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
• Sept. 4, 2015 Letter to the Federal Aviation Administration
• Aug. 6, 2015 Letter from Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
• June 28, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting MWAA Presentation
• June 18, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting FAA Presentation
• June 18, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting Summary View a June 18, 2015 public forum on airport noise with Arlington County, MWAA and the FAA.