April 22, 2015

The FAA is updating the scientific evidence it uses to measure aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports, and will conduct a national survey around selected U.S. airports, with results to determine whether changes to the FAA’s current noise metrics are necessary, according to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The FAA chief communicated this information in a March 27 letter to NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and other aviation industry leaders, who had written Huerta in early February about the importance of utilizing a science-based approach to addressing issues regarding aircraft noise.

“It is essential that any potential changes to FAA’s noise policies are based on the latest scientific findings regarding noise and its effects, and not as a reaction to one or two communities that are escalating the debate based on emotions and perceived, rather than actual, noise effects,” said Bolen.

In his letter, Huerta said that the results of the survey “will then be used to determine whether changes to the FAA’s use of the Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) 65-dB noise metric are warranted. If changes are determined to be warranted, revised policy and related guidance will be proposed and will be subject to public review.” Review Huerta’s full letter. (PDF)

Bolen said that he was pleased that the FAA administrator indicated in his letter that “any change to current metrics and thresholds cannot be made without a sufficient body of scientific support.” The FAA is “strongly committed to continuing to reduce aircraft noise impacts while realizing the benefits of NextGen operational procedures like PBN [performance-based navigation],” wrote Huerta.

“We are encouraged by the FAA’s continuing commitment to science-based noise metrics, as well as to PBN flight procedures,” said Bolen. “NBAA looks forward to working with the FAA in ensuring safe and efficient aircraft operations that have minimal noise impact on communities across our country.”

NBAA has long encouraged operators to incorporate usage of its voluntary noise-abatement program, which has been in existence since 1967. Read more about NBAA’s noise abatement program.