Court Opinions Citing 14 C.F.R. Part 150

[Updated July 10, 2000]


Only those court opinions that comment on the substance
or applicability of 14 C.F.R. Part 150 are listed here.


Allison v. Department of Transportation
U.S. Ct. App. D.C. Cir, 1990 (908 F.2d 1024, 1028)

Individuals living in an "airpark" threatened by construction of the new Denver International Airport challenged the FAA's determination that the noise generated by the new airport would not constitute "use" of a nearby state park and wildlife refuge. The court found that the FAA erred in using inappropriate guidelines from 14 C.F.R. Part 150 to measure the effects of noise on the parks. The court concluded, however, that the FAA otherwise presented substantial evidence that airport noise would not constitute a "use" of the parklands, and therefore the FAA's error was not prejudicial error.


Alvarado v. Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority
U.S. District Ct., W.D. Tenn., Western Div., 1991 (765 F.Supp. 422, 423)

Property owners near Memphis International Airport sued the airport owner and the FAA for equitable relief from noise generated by the airport. The suit was brought in part under the Noise Control Act of 1972 (42 U.S.C. 4911), which permits citizen suits against the FAA "where there is alleged a failure of [the FAA] to perform any act or duty under section 1431 of Title 49 which is not discretionary...." The court found that the FAA's actions in reviewing and approving the airport's noise compatibility programs based on its regulations in 14 C.F.R. Part 150 were discretionary in nature and therefore dismissed the FAA as a defendant.


Bieneman v. City of Chicago
U.S. Ct. App. 7th Cir., 1988 (864 F.2d 463, 472)

"We overrule Luedtke [v. County of Milwaukee, 7th Cir. 1975, 521 F.2d 387] to the extent it holds that all common law remedies for airport noise and pollution have been preempted by federal law. [FN omitted]

"A word on what this means. Bieneman wants common law remedies, but these must be remedies for wrongs ... or for those aspects of airport operation within the state's control as proprietor under Burbank [v. Lockheed Air Terminal, 1973, 411 U.S. 624, 93 S.Ct. 1854, 36 L.Ed.2d 547]. Federal law governs much of the conduct of O'Hare and its carriers. See 14 C.F.R. Part 36 (noise characteristics of aircraft), Part 150 (noise abatement procedures at airports). A state court could not award damages against O'Hare or its users for conduct required by these regulations, or for not engaging in noise-abatement procedures that the Federal Aviation Administration considered but rejected as unsafe. Bieneman's complaint suggests that damages should be awarded because there are too many flights per hour, or because the aircraft are older models no fitted with high-bypass turbofan engines, or because the planes do not climb at a sufficiently steep rate after takeoff. These subjects are governed by federal law, and a state may not use common law procedures to question federal decisions or extract money from those who abide by them. There may be, on the other hand, aspects of O'Hare's operations that offend federal law, or that federal norms do not govern. Perhaps, as Bieneman insists, the airport does not use adequate noise baffles around the perimeter of the airport, or perhaps it has built more runways than federal law requires (to the deteriment of those under the new ones), or is out of compliance with the governing federal rules. The essential point is that the state may employ damages remedies only to enforce federal requirements ... or to regulate aspects of airport operations over which the state has discretionary authority." (864 F.2d at 472-473).


Seattle Community Council Federation v. Federal Aviation Administration
U.S. Ct. App. 9th Cir., 1992 (961 F.2d 829, 833)

"The only issues which are relevant for our consideration on appeal are: (1) whether it was reasonable for the FAA to rely on the 65 Ldn contour as the threshold of significant noise impact; (2) whether it was reasonable for the FAA to rely on cumulative noise data; (3) whether it was reasonable for the FAA to conclude, without conducting further noise testing,, that the Plan would not affect the existing 65 Ldn contour; and (4) whether the FAA properly considered the cumulative effects of the Plan. [FN omitted]

"The FAA carried out no new noise measurements because all changes in the flight paths under the Plan occur outside the preexisting 65 Ldn contour. SCCF argues that the use of the 65 Ldn contour as a 'bright line' test for significant noise impacts is improper under NEPA.

"It was within the FAA's discretion to establish 65 Ldn as the threshold of significance for noise impacts. NEPA authorizes federal agencies to develop their own methods and procedures in regard to environmental analysis. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 4332(B) (1988). The FAA's decision to use 65 Ldn as its standard was neither arbitrary nor capricious, See Valley Citizens for a Safe Environment v. Aldridge, 886 F.2d 458, 467-69 (1st Cir. 1989) (reliance on National Academy of Science Guidelines which set 65 Ldn as the minimum of noise annoyance is an acceptable way to determine noise impacts; 'the place to attack standard methodology . . . is before the agency, not before the reviewing court.'). Federal regulations establish 65 Ldn as the level below which aircraft noise is compatible with all land uses. 14 C.F.R. Part 150, App. A, Table 1 (1991). This table has been incorporated into FAA Order 1050.1D. 'Table 1 provides examples of land uses which may be noise sensitive.' FAA Order 1050.1D, Attachment 2 Sec. 1(b)(1). We hold that the FAA's reliance on the 65 Ldn contour as the threshold of significant noise impact was not unreasonable."


Sierra Club v. U.S. Department of Transportation
U.S. Ct. App. D.C. Cir., 1985 (753 F.2d 120, 128)

The FAA has discretion to choose a noise analysis method (14 CFR 150.9).