Beyer prods FAA for action on airport noise

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Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is still hearing complaints from constituents who are still hearing jets roaring into and out of Reagan National Airport. (DCA).

Beyer today sent a letter to Federal Aviation (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta seeking expedited action in response to requests for flight path modifications requested by the DCA Working Group. Beyer’s support for the requests seeking changes to south flow departures were part of his longstanding attempts to reduce airplane noise in Northern Virginia communities.

“Hundreds of my constituents have expressed to me their frustrations with the slow pace of change prompted by their input to government authorities about aircraft noise,” said Beyer last April. “This problem isn’t getting better quickly enough. Northern Virginians have been patient, but there is more that can be done to reduce the toll taken by noisy aircraft on our community.”

In today’s letter, Beyer expressed concern about the length of time the FAA’s review has consumed as it studies the noise created by southbound departures. Beyer and other critics have pressed for changing the flight path to take planes farther downriver before they make their turn west.

“On June 6, 2017, when you last wrote in response to my inquiry into the matter, you assured me that the FAA would ‘do [its] best to hit the 12-18-month publication dates for south flow changes once formal design begins, though it is possible the work could stretch to 24 months’ depending on a variety of factors. As I understand, the formal design began in August 2016. Now, in mid-February 2019, it has been 30 months that the community has been waiting,” Beyer said.

The full text of the letter is below.

Hon. Michael P. Huerta

Administrator

Federal Aviation Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation

800 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20591

Dear Administrator Huerta,

I write to inquire about the status of the FAA’s response to the Reagan National Community Noise Working Group’s (DCA Working Group) request to modify flight paths and possibly waypoints south of DCA. The DCA Working Group made this request to the FAA on August 11, 2016, and the community continues, over two years later, to wait on FAA’s response while enduring pervasive airplane noise.

I understand that the FAA has been reviewing the DCA Working Group’s request and has been discussing proposals with the Working Group for a new south flow departure procedure aimed to mitigate noise by flying planes further down the Potomac River before their turn west, and I appreciate this effort. Nonetheless, I remain concerned with the length of time this has taken, and the lack of real action in implementing new procedures.

On June 6, 2017, when you last wrote in response to my inquiry into the matter, you assured me that the FAA would “do [its] best to hit the 12-18-month publication dates for south flow changes once formal design begins, though it is possible the work could stretch to 24 months” depending on a variety of factors.[1] As I understand, the formal design began in August 2016. Now, in mid-February 2019, it has been 30 months that the community has been waiting.

I hear directly from members of the community regularly that the airplane noise has not ceased or been alleviated, and the community and I remain eager to see the new planned procedures, and continue working alongside the FAA towards quieting our skies.

I urge you to move this process along as expeditiously as possible, and to provide an updated timeline for the publication dates of south flow modifications. I know you understand the importance of addressing airplane noise in our communities, and I appreciate your continued effort on this front.

Sincerely,

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.