FAA Strives to Mitigate Noise Impact During Modernization of National Air Traffic Control System

FAA seeks collaboration to reduce noise impact on residents
Read Time: 2 minutes
Apr 21, 2022

The FAA is in the process of modernizing the national air traffic control system and, while doing so, has found that many of the most efficient flight paths are ones that also cause a high amount of noise for the residents who live along those flight paths. Because of this, the FAA had to contend with disgruntled residents and the threat of litigation. Lawmakers asked the FAA to address the issue proactively to prevent the problem from escalating.

FAA Reports Noise Mitigation Strategies to Legislators

On Thursday, March 17, 2022, officials from the FAA reported to lawmakers that they were working on reducing the impact of noise that residents may be exposed to from aircraft flying overhead. Kevin Walsh, who is the FAA’s director of its Office of Environment and Energy, summarized for legislators the proactive steps that the FAA would be taking to mitigate noise concerns as the organization modernized the national air traffic control system.

FAA Outlines Steps to Reduce Noise Exposure

Walsh reported to the legislators that “successfully addressing aviation noise requires collaboration, cooperation, and coordination across aviation stakeholders, including the FAA, air carriers, airports, aircraft manufacturers, local land use planning authorities, communities, and elected officials.” The FAA may make the decisions regarding flight paths, but that isn’t the only factor that can help to reduce noise. In fact, noise levels from aircraft are already much lower than they were in the past, partly due to improvements in the design of aircraft.

FAA Initiates CLEEN Program Phase Three

In the past, CLEEN program initiatives have helped to reduce noise exposure. These programs, run by the FAA, involve calling for improvements in aircraft design as well as improvements to the technologies used in jet engines. As part of the FAA’s efforts to reduce the risk of noise exposure to residents living under flight paths, the organization has initiated phase three of CLEEN, which stands for Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise.

Causes of Aircraft Noise Exposure

Kid watching airplane on cloudy day

In the past, noise exposure to aircraft was caused by noisier aircraft. Thanks to innovations in aircraft and engine technology, however, aircraft have grown much quieter over the years. Now, most aircraft noise is caused instead by the frequency of flights that travel along the same flight paths. People are flying much more frequently than they did in the past and the frequency of flights over certain residential areas has caused an increase in noise exposure for residents living there.

The FAA’s Plan for the Future

The FAA’s plan to move forward as it moves forward with modernizing flight paths and air traffic control is to improve its outreach to communities impacted by the changes. The FAA is researching how aircraft noise levels impact those who experience it. The organization is also seeking out feedback from those impacted by their changes, including an online portal where residents can make complaints about noise levels.

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