Use of Part 150 Noise Exposure Maps to Limit Recovery of Damages
for Airport Noise in Federal Court


The Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979 authorized the Federal Aviation Administration to set up a program by which an airport could submit a "noise-compatibility land use plan" for the area surrounding the airport. Such plans are a precondition for FAA approval of money grants for capital improvement projects. The FAA subsequently developed a program, which is published in 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 150. Noise-compatibility plans submitted by airports are often called "Part 150 plans."

The 1979 Act imposed certain conditions on the rights of private individuals to sue for relief from noise in federal court (note that the statute applies to claims in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims). No cases interpreting the statute have been published as of Feb. 26, 2000.

The relevant provisions of the Act are printed below (current as of Sept. 30, 1998). For the full text of the 1979 Act see Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979.



TITLE 49 - TRANSPORTATION SUBTITLE VII - AVIATION PROGRAMS PART B - AIRPORT DEVELOPMENT AND NOISE CHAPTER 475 - NOISE
SUBCHAPTER I - NOISE ABATEMENT
Sec. 47506. Limitations on recovering damages for noise (a) General Limitations. - A person acquiring an interest in property after February 18, 1980, in an area surrounding an airport for which a noise exposure map has been submitted under section 47503 of this title and having actual or constructive knowledge of the existence of the map may recover damages for noise attributable to the airport only if, in addition to any other elements for recovery of damages, the person shows that - (1) after acquiring the interest, there was a significant - (A) change in the type or frequency of aircraft operations at the airport; (B) change in the airport layout; (C) change in flight patterns; or (D) increase in nighttime operations; and (2) the damages resulted from the change or increase. (b) Constructive Knowledge. - Constructive knowledge of the existence of a map under subsection (a) of this section shall be imputed, at a minimum, to a person if - (1) before the person acquired the interest, notice of the existence of the map was published at least 3 times in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the property is located; or (2) the person is given a copy of the map when acquiring the interest.
SUBCHAPTER II - NATIONAL AVIATION NOISE POLICY
Sec. 47527. Liability of the United States Government for noise damages When a proposed airport noise or access restriction is disapproved under this subchapter, the United States Government shall assume liability for noise damages only to the extent that a taking has occurred as a direct result of the disapproval. The United States Court of Federal Claims has exclusive jurisdiction of a civil action under this section.