FAA Aviation Noise Abatement Policy (continued)


A. Basic Policy Principles

Because aircraft noise adversely affects a significant portion of the nation's population, a nationwide commitment, involving federal, local and private resources, is required to reduce the impact of aviation noise on the people who live in areas surrounding airports.

Public understanding is essential to an effective program to reduce aircraft noise so that we do not raise the expectations of airport neighbors for noise reductions beyond the levels which technology and reasonable cost-effectiveness make possible.

Each of the participants in the noise abatement effort - the airport users, aircraft manufacturers, the airport proprietors, federal, state and local governments, and residents in communities surrounding airports - must take specific steps that are essential in reducing the number of people adversely affected by noise and the severity of the effect on all people.

Planning and acting in coordination, each of these parties should move toward the goal of confining severe aircraft noise exposure levels around U.S. airports to the areas included within the airport boundary or over which the airport has a legal interest, and of reducing substantially the number and extent of areas receiving noise exposure levels that interfere with human activity.

B. Authorities and Responsibilities Under the Policy

The Federal Government has the authority and responsibility to control aircraft noise by the regulation of source emissions, by flight operational procedures, and by management of the air traffic control system and navigable airspace in ways that minimize noise impact on residential areas, consistent with the highest standards of safety. The federal government also provides financial and technical assistance to airport Proprietors for noise reduction planning and abatement activities and, working with the private sector, conducts continuing research into noise abatement technology.

Airport Proprietors are primarily responsible for planning and implementing action designed to reduce the effect of noise on residents of the surrounding area. Such actions include optimal site location, improvements in airport design, noise abatement ground procedures, land acquisition, and restrictions on airport use that do not unjustly discriminate against any user, impede the federal interest in safety and management of the air navigation system, or unreasonably interfere with interstate or foreign commerce.

State and Local Governments and Planning Agencies must provide for land use planning and development, zoning, and housing regulation that will limit the uses of land near airports to purposes compatible with airport operations.

The Air Carriers are responsible for retirement, replacement, or retrofit of older jets that do not meet federal noise level standards, and for scheduling and flying airplanes in a way that minimizes the impact of noise on people.

Air Travelers and Shippers. generally should bear the cost of noise reduction, consistent with established federal economic and environmental policy that the adverse environmental consequences of a service or product should be reflected in its price.

Residents and Prospective Residents in areas surrounding airports should seek to understand the noise problem and what steps can be taken to minimize its effect on people. Individual and community responses to aircraft noise differ substantially and, for some individuals, a reduced level of noise may not eliminate the annoyance or irritation. Prospective residents of areas impacted by airport noise thus should be aware of the effect of noise on their quality of life and act accordingly.

C. Federal Action Plan to Implement These Policies.

1. Aircraft Source Noise Regulation

a. Currently Operating Aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration will promulgate a rule requiring that subsonic jet airplanes with maximum weight in excess of 75,000 pounds that do not meet the present Federal Aviation Regulations Part 36 noise levels must be retired from the fleet or modified ("retrofitted") to meet those levels in accordance with the following schedule. To bring about the earliest reduction of noise levels possible, the phased-in compliance deadlines for each aircraft type have been established on the basis of what is technologically practicable and economically reasonable. The deadlines are:

747s within six years, with one-half to be completed within four years;

727s, 737s, DC-9, BAC I-lls within six years, with one-half to be completed within four years; and

720s, 707s, DC-8s, CV-990s within eight years, with one-quarter to be completed within four years, and one-half to be completed within six years. *

These time periods will start to run with the issuance of appropriate regulations to be effective January 1, 1977. In accordance with such procedures as are authorized by law and FAA regulations, persons subject to these regulations may petition for an exemption. In evaluating petitions for an exemption, the FAA will consider the economic ability of the petitioner to meet the regulatory timetable and whether the petitioner is able to operate the airplanes for which an exemption is sought into airports where a significant noise problem does not exist. As a matter of policy, it is our view that such exemptions should not in any event extend to more than one-third of the JT8D powered airplanes in an operator's fleet.

In conjunction with the issuance of the Part 36 compliance regulation, the United States will work through the International Civil Aviation Organization to reach agreement with other nations on means to abate aircraft noise. If agreement is not reached in three years, it is the intention of the federal government to require aircraft flown by carriers of other countries to meet U.S. established noise levels at the end of five additional years. For the time being, aircraft operated by foreign carriers and that portion of the fleets of U.S. air carriers used in international service will not be covered by the noise regulations issued pursuant to this statement.

* In the establishment of the eight year deadline for the older four-engine jets, we considered, for example, the time required to develop and certificate for production a retrofit kit for the 707 (two years) and the OC-8 (36.months) and the time required to produce and install enough kits to bring these planes into compliance (there are currently over 500 in operation).

b. Future Design Aircraft

The FAA will complete, by March 1, 1977, its consideration of new, more stringent noise standards for new aircraft designs that reflect recent advances in noise suppression technology and are technologically practicable, economically reasonable, and appropriate for the particular type of aircraft. These regulations will be applicable to subsonic aircraft developed for the replacement of the old four engine jets and to airplanes type certificated after the effective date of the regulation.

c. Supersonic Aircraft

Using information that is now available on a continuing basis from the Concorde demonstration, the FAA, not later than thirty days after the conclusion of the sixteen month demonstration periods, will act to promulgate a noise rule applicable to supersonic aircraft that is necessary to protect the public health and welfare and that is consistent with the statutory requirement that the Administrator consider technological practicability, economic reasonableness, and appropriateness to aircraft type.

2. Operating Procedures

The FAA has evaluated a number of concepts for aircraft operating procedures designed to abate noise. The FAA has taken regulatory action this week to maximize the noise reduction benefits of new aircraft and retrofitted aircraft, consistent with the highest degree of safety. Additional analysis and evaluation is underway which is expected to lead to future regulatory action.

3. Airport Development Aid Program

Under the new authority granted in the 1976 Amendments to the Airport and Airway Development Act, the FAA will establish a high priority for the allocation of discretionary Airport and Airway Trust Funds for airport land acquisition to ensure compatible use of land near airports, the purchase of noise suppressant equipment, the construction of physical barriers and other noise reduction activities.

The Department of Transportation, in appropriate cases, will encourage the development of new airports to replace some of the older airports in areas with large populations adversely affected by noise. In the development of new airports, federal financing will be conditioned on effective noise abatement planning. Federal funding for new airport development and for airport expansion and improvement will require documentation that the proprietor is taking all reasonable steps to ensure that the use of land areas exposed to serious levels of noise is restricted to uses compatible with airport operations projected for the foreseeable future.

The Administration will request the Congress to amend further the Airport and Airway Development Act to include among airport proprietor activities eligible for federal-aid funding the acquisition, installation and operation of airport noise monitoring equipment. Use of such equipment is vital to assist airport proprietors in quantifying noise exposure, identifying specific airplanes and operators that are major contributors to community noise, and developing programs to reduce aircraft noise exposure.

4.Airport Noise Policy

To bring about further relief from excessive aircraft noise, airport proprietors are encouraged to develop aggressive noise abatement programs for their airports. The FAA will assist proprietors in attaining their noise abatement goals and will advise them on how their proposed plans affect the overall air transportation system. The FAA will accept preliminary proposals from airport sponsors for comprehensive noise abatement plans and will fund a select number of innovative noise abatement model plans and demonstrations. In addition, the FAA will encourage noise abatement plans from airport proprietors in conjunction with both applications for major airport development grants and proposals to establish use restrictions, such as curfews or scheduling and equipment restrictions. The FAA will advise airport operators whether proposed use restrictions are unjustly discriminatory or place an undue burden on interstate or foreign commerce because of their impact on the national air transportation system. Where necessary, the FAA will seek adjudication of the constitutional issues involved if it believes that a use restriction established at an airport is unjustly discriminatory or creates an undue burden on interstate or foreign air commerce.

D. Air Carrier Action Plan

1. Aircraft Compliance

Under the federal rule described above, the older, noisier four-engine jets using the JT3D and similar engines (707s, DC-8s, CV-990s) must be modified to meet Part 36 noise levels or they must be retired from operation within eight years. Many of the four-engine jets are old and relatively inefficient to operate. After weighing the advantages of modification and replacement, the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration have concluded that it would be in replaced by incorporate Replacement levels. In efficiency, the public interest if most of these aircraft were new airplanes, particularly by new airplanes that new technologies currently under development. would reduce further noise and pollution emissions addition, replacement would increase energy accelerate introduction of advanced safety and design technologies, increase employment opportunities, improve service for the air traveler, and improve prospects for exports by the American aerospace industry.

2. Financing

To ensure that the air carriers can-meet the new aircraft noise standards within the deadlines established by regulation, President Ford directed me, as Secretary of Transportation, to hold a public hearing on December 1, 1976, to determine whether any additional financing arrangements may be necessary. Further details on this hearing and the issues to be addressed are set forth in separate documentation.

E. Local Actions

While federal action will form the basis of our program, substantial Local action will be necessary to complement the noise reduction actions of the federal government and air carriers. Since a federal program would be significantly less effective without commensurate local actions, we have delineated those actions we believe local authorities should take.

The FAA will encourage airport proprietors, who are legally responsible for the effect of aircraft noise on the surrounding community, to assess their particular noise problem and, where local authorities determine that there is a significant problem, to develop an action plan to reduce the impact of noise. That action plan should include a program to ensure maximum land use compatibility with airport operations both by the acquisition of easements or other rights in the use of land or airspace and by encouraging local governments to adopt and enforce zoning or other land use controls. It should also address other actions that may be taken, such as the establishment of a formal noise abatement runway system, control of ground operations, and preferential arrival and departure routes. The proprietor may wish to propose to the FAA special landing and takeoff procedures to deal with any unique conditions around his airport.

In addition, state and local governments with jurisdiction over property adjacent to airports must take action of their own, preferably in cooperation with the local airport proprietor. State and local governments are directly and uniquely responsible for ensuring that land use planning and zoning and land development activities in areas surrounding airports are consistent with the objective of ensuring land use that is compatible with present and projected aircraft noise exposure in the area. Construction standards for new buildings should ensure appropriate insulation from aircraft noise, and programs to insulate existing public and residential buildings should be advanced where needed.

State and local governments also should require that appropriate notice of airport n6ise exposure be provided to the purchasers of real estate and to prospective residents in areas near airports to ensure awareness of the nature of the airport environs.

F. Concluding Note

With realistic public appreciation for the complexity of the task to be performed and with full and open communication and cooperation among the participants, the actions that each of us take separately pursuant to this policy will contribute toward significant and recognizable progress in the reduction of the adverse effect of aircraft noise on airport neighbors.

Part Two
Analysis of the Noise Problem, Legal Framework,
and Description of the Federal Action Program


In determining what action can and should be taken at the federal and local levels and in the private sector to reduce the adverse effect of excessive aircraft noise, a full understanding of this multidimensional problem is essential. In this part, we will explain the underlying rationale that supports the conclusions set forth in our Aviation Noise Abatement Policy and the federal action program to implement it. In describing the noise problem, we will explain first the technical framework for measuring the noise problem, how it affects people and how they react to it, how many people are subjected to excessive noise and where they live, and how actions to reduce noise affect interstate commerce. Because progress in noise reduction is heavily dependent upon the financial ability of airlines to modify or replace their old, noisy airplanes and on the ability of manufacturers to design, produce, and sell less noisy airplanes, we also will consider the financial condition of the airlines and the impact of proposed. actions on the aerospace industry.

The responsibilities of federal and local governments, airport proprietors, and industry in responding to the noise problem are defined in large measure by statutory and case law. Accordingly, the legal framework set forth in this part establishes the foundation upon which the federal program must be constructed. Finally, the federal response summarized in this policy is described in greater detail in terms of the precise nature of the noise problem it is designed to address and the financial and technological constraints within which progress must be made.

A. The Noise Problem

1. How Noise is Described

People's reactions to noise differ widely. It is difficult, therefore, to derive a simple mathematical formula that accurately represents human reaction to noise annoyance. For example, it remains uncertain whether people, in reacting to aircraft noise, are more annoyed by the number of aircraft noise events or the noise levels of individual events. To help measure, quantify and understand the effects of noise on people, there has been a proliferation of approaches, the acronyms of which threaten to challenge the supremacy of the federal bureaucracy in this regard. Rational public discourse is not greatly aided by a debate over the relative merits of expressing noise impact in terms of dB, dBA, dBD, PNL, EPNL, EPNdB, SEL, SENEL, CNR, NEF, CNEL, ASDS, Ldn, and Leq. In this policy statement, we have relied primarily on the two most common measurements of noise: noise generated by a single event (expressed in EPNDB, usually at the Part 36 measuring points) and cumulative noise exposure (expressed in Noise Exposure Forecast or NEF).

Human response to single-event jet aircraft noise is best represented in terms of Effective Perceived Noise Level, expressed in units of EPNdB. This unit of perceived noise takes into account the actual sound energy received by a listener, the ear's response to that sound energy, the added annoyance of any pure tones or "screeches" in the noise, and the duration of the noise. In any discussion of aircraft noise abatement, a key consideration is the difference in noise level which a listener is able to perceive and find meaningful, in terms of both the single event and the cumulative exposure. Few humans can detect differences between single events of aircraft noise of less than about 5 EPNdB. However, an increase of 10 EPNDS is usually perceived as a doubling in loudness.

The Part 36 measuring points are standardized locations from which aircraft noise is measured for certification purposes. Such measurements are specified at three points: one under the approach path,* one under the takeoff path,** and one to the side of the runway at the point of maximum noise during takeoff.*** Although the Part 36 values do not give a complete picture of the total noise impact at an airport, they do provide a standardized method of measuring aircraft noise, and are useful in comparing noise levels of different aircraft.

* One nautical mile from the runway threshold.

**3.5 nautical miles from the start of the takeoff roll.

***0.35 nautical miles to the side of the runway for four-engine aircraft, 0.25 nautical miles for two- and three-engine aircraft.

In general, if noise events, such as aircraft flyovers, are infrequent, the peal, noise level of the individual events will probably determine individual reactions to that noise. If the noise events are relatively continuous or repetitive, however, the total noise "dose" or cumulative noise exposure becomes a more important factor in people's reactions to aircraft noise. Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) provides a measure of the total aircraft-generated noise energy received at locations near an airport during a typical 24-hour period. The NEF value at a given point near an airport is calculated by summing the noise energy received at that point from all of the aircraft operating into and out of that airport during a day, with an added penalty for nighttime noise (flights after 10 p.m.). Points of equal NEF value are then joined to form contours of equal noise exposure. Calculation of these values requires knowledge of the number and type of aircraft operating, the noise characteristics of each aircraft, the flight paths they follow, the time of day they fly, and the manner in which they are operated (for example, power settings during takeoff and landing).

The NEF procedure has been developed over the last decade for land use planning around airports as the number of jet aircraft has increased and their noise has become more of an annoyance. It is particularly meaningful in measuring the overall impact that residents around busy airports might experience, and research into human reaction to aircraft noise indicates that cumulative noise exposure is the most useful measure of public reaction to aircraft noise.*

*References for Cumulative Measure Support

1. Tracor Inc.: Community Reaction to Airport Noise - Vol. 1, NASA CR 1761, Vol. 11 NASA CR 111 316, September 1970.

2. Connor, William and Patterson, Harrold: Community Reaction to Aircraft Noise Around Smaller City Airports. NAS CR 2104, 1972.

3. Galloway, W. and Bishop, D.E.: Noise Exposure Forecasts: Evolution, Evaluation, Extensions and Land Use Interpretations. FAA Report No. FAA-NO-70-9, August 1970.

4. McKennell, A.C.: Aircraft Noise Annoyance Around London (Heathrow) Airport. S.S. 337, Central Office of Information, 1963.

5. MIL Research Ltd.: Second Survey of Aircraft Noise Annoyance Around London (Heathrow) Airport. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, Social Surveys Division. HMSO (London), 1971.

In assessing community reaction to aircraft noise exposure, the following interpretations of NEF values are often used:

Less than NEF 30 -- Essentially no complaints expected; noise may interfere with community activities.

NEF 30 to NEF 40 -- Individuals may complain; group action possible.

Greater than NEF 40 -- Repeated vigorous complaints expected; group action probable.

A reduction of one NEF unit is equivalent to a reduction of about two percent in the number of people highly annoyed and equal to a reduction of about 14 percent in the area exposed to the same level of noise exposure.* A difference in noise level below 5 EPNDB may not be significant as a single event, but if there are frequent occurrences the cumulative effect of' that difference may be substantial, and the change in NEF value would reflect this.

The NEF method has been adopted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It will not guarantee mortgages on properties within NEF 40 and normally considers properties within NEF 30 unacceptable. NEF and other descriptors of cumulative noise exposure** are useful in determine the effect of federal noise control activity on airport communities and in commensurate local land use development and planning.

* The relationship between NEF reduction and land area reduction is logarithmic - i.e., a 50 percent reduction in land area is approximately equivalent to a 4.5 NEF unit reduction, while a 25 percent reduction in land area is approximately equal to a 2.0 NEF unit reduction.

** The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that cumulative noise exposure be expressed by a measure called Day/Night Average Noise Level (Ldn). The equivalent values are:

NEF 30 = Ldn 65; NEF 40 = Ldn 75

Document Continued