Board Member John Vihstadt Appointed to N.O.I.S.E. Executive Committee
Arlington County Board Member John Vihstadt has been selected to serve as the Secretary of the National Organization to Insure a Sound Controlled Environment (N.O.I.S.E.). N.O.I.S.E., an affiliate of the National League of Cities, is a national organization composed of local elected officials committed to reducing the impacts of aviation noise on communities across the country. More information about the activities and advocacy efforts of N.O.I.S.E. can be found on their webpage.
Federal Legislative Update
- Reauthorization: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently operating under a short-term authorization extension, which will expire on October 1, 2017. The FAA authorization bill is the vehicle for setting authorized funding levels and aviation policy nationwide. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently announced their intent to complete action in the House of Representatives on the bill by the end of July. Arlington County, and our partner jurisdictions in the National Capital Region, has long supported the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s (MWAA) efforts to oppose further changes to the slot and perimeter restrictions at Ronald Reagan National Airport and we will continue to do so through this year’s authorization process. The Washington Metropolitan Area Congressional Delegation recently sent a letter to the House and Senate Committees of jurisdiction on this topic.
- Appropriations: Thank you to Representative Don Beyer for joining with his colleagues on the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus to request funding in federal Fiscal Year 2018 for health studies on the impacts of aircraft noise on communities and for the inclusion of language directing the FAA to utilize alternative noise metrics in assessing and addressing community concerns with aircraft noise. Read a copy of the letter here.
Arlington Welcomes FAA Move on Proposed Northbound Departure Procedures Changes at Reagan National Airport
On January 5th, the FAA issued a statement saying it “has decided to discontinue its work on the departure procedure from Washington Reagan National Airport known as Lazir B and to cancel its implementation. The decision follows a review of public input, including comments gathered at community meetings, inquiries from political leaders and the public, and discussions in citizens’ advisory forums. The FAA will continue to support the efforts of the DCA Community Noise Working Group.”
Arlington remains committed to working with all stakeholders to address the issue of aircraft noise, County Board Chair Jay Fisette said.
“There was a lot of concern in our community that the proposed changes not only did not address the underlying noise problem in the region resulting from the implementation of Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), but could actually increase overflights and noise impacts in Arlington,” Fisette said. “Many residents told us they opposed these changes, and many made their voices heard to the FAA during the public comment period. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the FAA, MWAA (Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority), our neighboring jurisdictions and others to more fully understand what is causing increased noise exposure and noise complaints in all of our communities, and to identify and analyze reasonable steps that can be taken to reduce and/or mitigate it. This is an important quality of life issue for residents of our region and we must all work together to address it.”
The FAA began the process of changing the northbound departure procedures in January 2015, in an effort to increase the distance between departing aircraft and the prohibited airspace known as P-56, and to mitigate noise issues on both sides of the Potomac River by maximizing flight time over the water. The Reagan National Community Noise Working Group endorsed the FAA moving forward on these changes on December 10, 2015. The FAA published the proposed changes, known as Lazir B, for public comment in September 2016, and conducted a series of community outreach sessions in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
Materials from the community outreach sessions are available here.
Arlington and Aircraft Noise
Arlington County residents, and residents throughout the National Capital Region, have grown increasingly concerned about noise from Reagan National Airport (DCA) in the last year. 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 has been very active on this issue and 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. The County has been encouraged by their willingness to share information with our residents and for their repeated commitment to reducing the impacts of aircraft noise on area residents.
Along with MWAA and the FAA, Arlington County has recently sought to engage in a community conversation to:
• Provide residents with information about the past, current and future operations at DCA;
• Keep residents informed of efforts underway to refine arrival and departure procedures which may have a positive impact on noise; and
• Give residents a chance to express your opinion and ask questions directly to those responsible for the airspace and the airport.
View a June 18, 2015 public forum on airport noise with Arlington County, MWAA and the FAA.
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
MWAA Community Working Group
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. Stephen Geiger and Mr. Joseph Pelton have 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.
The FAA is responsible for approving all low-flying helicopter flight paths. Here are two maps of the Helicopter Routes:
The FAA understands that there have been concerns raised in communities throughout the region about helicopters not flying along the approved flight paths, and they are initiating conversations with the Department of Defense, the main operator of helicopter traffic in the region, to discuss this issue in more detail. The U.S. Army – Military District of Washington has provided an information sheet on this issue. For residents with complaints regarding specific helicopter flights, you can contact the Washington Flight Standards District Office of the FAA, at:
13873 Park Center Road
Herndon, VA 20171
It is important to remember that the FAA 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. They are not investigating the level of noise generated by the helicopter, but simply if it is abiding by the general operating and flight rules for the region or other FAA authorization specific to that flight. 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.
• June 18, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting Summary
• June 18, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting FAA Presentation
• June 28, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting MWAA Presentation
• Aug. 6, 2015 Letter from Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
• Sept. 4, 2015 Letter to the Federal Aviation Administration
• Sept. 4, 2015 Letter to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
• April 2016 Airport Noise Meeting MWAA Presentation
• Sept. 12, 2016 Letter to the Federal Aviation Administration