FAA Aviation Noise Abatement Policy (concluded)

3. Federal Support for Airport Proprietor and Local Government Noise Abatement Activities

The FAA has long encouraged planning to assure not only that airports will be adequate to provide the service required in the future but that prospective noise impacts are evaluated and minimized In the past this FAA policy has been implemented through three principal methods involving the Airport Development Aid Program (ADAP).

First, under section 16 of the Airport and Airway Development Act, the Secretary may approve a project only if he is satisfied that it is "reasonably consistent" with the plans of planning agencies for the development of the area in which the airport is located. A project may not be approved unless "fair consideration has been given to the interest of communities in or near where the project may be located." The Act further declares as national policy that the projects involving airport location, runway location or a major runway extension shall "provide for the protection and enhancement of the natural resources and the quality of environment of the Nation," and provides that when an airport or runway location or major runway extension will have adverse environmental effect, it may not be approved unless "no feasible and prudent alternative exists and that all possible steps have been taken to minimize such adverse effect." In addition, section 18(4) of that Act provides that among the conditions precedent to project approval are:

appropriate action, including the adoption of zoning laws, has been or will be taken, to the extent reasonable, to restrict the use of land adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of the airport to activities and purposes compatible with normal airport operations, including landing and takeoff of aircraft.

While the FAA does not and, in our judgment, should not have the power to control land use around airports throughout the United States, the grant of federal funds for airport development has been and will continue to be conditioned on the application of the foregoing principles.

Second, the FAA has awarded ADAP funds for the development of airport Master Plans. These plans contain an environmental analysis and planning elements to assure that the airport's noise impact is kept to a minimum.

Third, the recent Airport and Airway Development Act Amendments of 1976 (P.L. 94-353) authorize for the first time the use of federal airport development funds on projects designed to achieve noise relief. Specifically, section 11 of the Act now authorizes federal financing of land acquisition to insure compatibility with airport noise levels and the acquisition of noise suppression equipment. We will also seek an amendment of that Act which would authorize the use of ADAP funds for the purchase of noise monitoring equipment.

For the most part, these provisions have led the FAA to concentrate on noise abatement efforts in the context of capital investment. Less attention and financial commitment has been devoted by the federal government to the development by airport proprietors of broader and more comprehensive noise abatement plans. The increase in public concern about the airport noise problem now requires that affirmative federal action be taken beyond the evaluation of airport construction projects. Therefore, FAA is initiating a pilot project to encourage the preparation of comprehensive noise abatement plans by airport proprietors through the planning grant program of the Airport and Airway Development Act.

In formulating this policy to provide a financial incentive for airport noise abatement planning, FAA gave consideration to other alternatives including (1) requiring preparation of such plans by all airports certificated under section 612 of the Federal Aviation Act; (2) requiring the preparation of such plans by the busiest airports in the United States (for example, the top 100 airports by the number of operations); (3) requiring preparation of such plans as a prerequisite to imposition-of an airport use restriction by FAA-certificated airports; (4) requiring preparation of such plans as a condition of awarding ADAP funds; and (5) encouraging preparation of such plans and review by FAA without providing federal financial support for this purpose. Although we are still open to further suggestions and comments, these proposals to make airport noise planning mandatory, or a condition of ADAP funding, or a prerequisite to the imposition of use restrictions by an airport proprietor were not adopted at this time because we have not had sufficient experience with this type of noise abatement planning by many airports that either may not have serious noise problems or may have already performed a comparable analysis.* Moreover, we strongly believe that airport proprietors have the incentives, the capacity, and the responsibility to undertake comprehensive noise abatement planning when it is needed, without detailed and duplicative federal oversight. We strongly urge them to do so. We will support there. in this effort and provide technical and financial assistance where possible.

* In reaching this conclusion, the FAA considered public comments received in response to the July 9, 1975, notice (40 F.R. 28844) and testimony at public hearings held in 25 cities throughout the nation on Airport Noise Policy.

The FAA pilot comprehensive noise abatement planning program will have the following elements. Each year, to the extent that funds are available, FAA will award grants for not more than 25 plans on the basis of criteria including the quality of the proposal, the gravity of the noise problem afflicting the applicant airport and the likelihood that the development of such a plan will lead to the implementation of practicable noise abatement techniques of general value and applicability.

The objective of this policy is to promote a planning process through which the airport proprietor can examine and analyze the noise impact created by the operation of his airport as well as the costs and benefits associated with various selected alternative noise reduction techniques, individually and/or in combination. FAA personnel will support and cooperate with this effort through consideration of actions which they can take to reduce noise impacts.

Although FAA has not prescribed particular performance requirements for noise abatement plans funded under this program, the goal of the airport noise planning process should be to eliminate insofar as possible severe aircraft noise exposure and to reduce as much as possible significant aircraft noise exposure in communities adjacent to airports. The objective of airport noise plans prepared under this policy should be to develop noise reduction techniques which, to the maximum extent feasible, confine severe aircraft noise exposure levels, levels of 40 NEF or more, to areas included within the airport's boundary. For areas adjacent to an airport exposed to significant aircraft noise levels of 30 NEF or more, the objective of the airport noise plan should be to develop noise reduction techniques that to the extent possible would confine the area exposed to this level of noise to the airport boundary or land actually being used or which can reasonably be expected to be used in a way compatible with these noise levels.

The Environmental Protection Agency was provided draft copies of this Policy Statement, and a number of informal discussions were held on the FAA's proposed airport policy as it was being developed. The EPA has advised FAA that it considers the FAA's policy a step forward in this area, although it believes further steps are necessary. On October 26, 1976, EPA proposed a regulation under section 611 of the Federal Aviation Act that would require all airports in the United States serving certificated air carriers to develop airport noise abatement plans by July 1979. These plans, developed according to a common methodology and with extensive public participation, would be submitted to the FAA. Unless disapproved by the FAA, each plan would become a part of the airport's operating certificate issued under section 612 of the Act. The EPA proposal, like ours, has as its objective the bringing together of all interested parties with their respective authorities and obligations, thereby facilitating the creation of an agreed-upon abatement plan especially suited to the individual airport location. The EPA proposal has been sent to the Federal Reqister for publication, and will be the subject of public hearings on January 17 and 18, 1977. On the basis of these hearings and other analysis, the FAA will determine what revisions of the airport policy enunciated in this document are necessary, if any.

In developing an airport noise control plan, the airport proprietor may wish to consider the following categories of action:

a. Actions that the airport proprietor can implement directly:

(1) location of engine run-up areas;

(2) time when engine run-up for maintenance can be done;

(3) establishment of landing fees based on aircraft noise emission characteristics or time of day.

b. Actions that the airport proprietor can implement directly if he has authority, or propose to other appropriate local authorities:

(1) plan and control of land use adjacent to the air port by zoning or other appropriate land use controls, such as utility expenditures and the issuance of building permits;

(2) enact building codes which require housing and public buildings in the vicinity of airports to be appropriately insulated; and

(3) require appropriate notice of airport noise to the purchasers of real estate and prospective residents in areas near airports.

c. Actions that the airport proprietor can implement directly in conjunction with other appropriate local authorities and with financial assistance from the FAA, where appropriate:

(1) acquire land to insure its use for purposes compatible with airport operations;

(2) acquire interests in land, such as easements or air rights, to insure its use for purposes compatible with airport operations;

(3) acquire noise suppressing equipment, construction of physical barriers, and landscape for the purpose of reducing the impact of aircraft noise; and

(4) undertake airport development, such as new runways or extended runways, that would shift noise away from populated areas or reduce the noise impact over presently impacted areas.

d. Actions that the airport proprietor can propose to FAA for implementation at a specific airport as operational noise control procedures:

(1) a preferential runway use system;

(2) preferential approach and departure flight tracks;

(3) a priority runway use system;

(4) a rotational runway use system;

(5) flight operational procedures such as thrust reduction or maximum climb ontakeoff;

(6) higher glide slope angles and glide slope intercept altitudes on approach; and

(7) displaced runway threshold.

e. Actions an airport proprietor can establish, after providing an opportunity to airport users, the general public and to FAA to review and advise:

(1) restrictions on the use of or operations at the airport in a particular time period or by aircraft type, such as:

(a) limiting the number of operations per day or year;

(b) prohibiting operations at certain hours - curfews;

(c) prohibiting operation by a particular type or class of aircraft; and

(2) any combination of the above.

f. Actions an airport proprietor can propose to an airline:

(1) Shifting operations to neighboring airports.

(2) Rescheduling of operations by aircraft type or time of day.

The existence, operation and development of an airport provides a service to and is interrelated with both the local community and airport users. These are also the parties who would be most directly affected by the airport operator's noise control plan. We therefore consider it vital that these parties have the opportunity to take part in the planning process. As a condition of FAA noise abatement planning grants, the airport proprietor will be required to provide for reasonable public notice of the plan and provide an opportunity for public participation in the development of the proposed plan. Public notice should describe the plan, the actions proposed, the reasons why these actions are proposed, alternative courses of action considered and why these alternatives were rejected. The FAA also encourages other means of involving, the public, both formal and informal, to ensure meaningful public participation in the process.

The FAA will maintain communications with all airports involved in noise abatement planning -- whether or not FAA-funded -- and provide technical advice on the current state-of-the-art in airport noise reduction planning methods that have been successfully used throughout the country. This will include technical information regarding noise reduction and land use planning and guidance on procedures that airports may choose to consider in developing their plans. The FAA and other federal agencies, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency, may suggest technical methodologies and criteria for land use compatibility that airports and affected local units of government may choose to utilize in their noise reduction planning. Federally funded model noise abatement plans will be monitored and evaluated. Information about successful noise abatement techniques will be disseminated by the FAA to all interested airport proprietors. The FAA will evaluate the model noise abatement planning program as well as the EPA proposal of October 26, 1976, to the FAA and the public comments on it at the conclusion of twenty-four months in order to determine whether broader noise abatement planning requirements should be encouraged or required.

4. FAA Review of Proprietary Use Restrictions

While the airport proprietor is best situated to judge the local noise problem and to determine how to respond to it, he is not always in the best position to judge the impact of his noise reduction proposal on the national and international air transportation systems. Because of the intricacy of those systems, use restrictions at a single airport could, under certain circumstances, cause wide-spread disruption throughout those systems. Pursuant to the general federal interest in the free flow of interstate and foreign commerce, the constitutional principle that states and local entities may not impose undue burdens even where Congress or federal agencies have not acted, and the specific FAA responsibility for regulating the air navigation system, the federal government has the obligation to assure that airport proprietor actions to meet local needs do not conflict with national and international purposes. The proprietor's obligations to refrain from imposing an undue burden on interstate or foreign commerce or discriminating unjustly, and to avoid potential conflicts with the FAA's control of airspace and air traffic, are not difficult to articulate as matters of principle but very difficult to-apply to a given factual situation.

As noted above in the discussion of FAA's program to fund airport noise abatement plans, airport proprietors may propose so-called "use restrictions" or "operating procedures" as the solution to an aircraft noise problem. Operating procedures, by their very nature, require implementation by the FAA. Indeed, the FAA, on its own initiative, has investigated and applied a number of operating procedures aimed at noise abatement, and has several others under consideration. In the future, where an airport proprietor proposes operating procedures to the FAA as a means of achieving noise relief, the FAA will review them to determine if they may be implemented without creating a safety hazard or significantly affecting the efficient use and management of the navigable airspace. If they are acceptable, the FAA will adopt and take appropriate steps to implement them.

The decision to propose a use restriction rests initially with the airport proprietor. It is expected that airport proprietors will consult and review such proposals with all the air carriers, other airport users and the FAA before any use restrictions are established. Here it is the role of the FAA to review those use restriction proposals and provide advice to the airport proprietor on his proposed actions. By this advice, the FAA will attempt to ensure that uncoordinated and unilateral restrictions at various individual airports do not work separately or in combination to create an undue burden on interstate or foreign commerce, unjustly discriminate or conflict with FAA's statutory regulatory authority.

For these reasons, all airport proprietors serving scheduled air carriers should apprise the Federal Aviation Administrator of their proposal to impose an airport use restriction. Such notification should be made a reasonable time in advance of the date the restriction is to go into effect. In all cases, notification of a proprietary use restriction should occur after and be accompanied by a detailed description of the alternative noise reduction techniques the proprietor has considered and the reasons supporting the adoption of the restriction in question instead of any other alternatives. The FAA will review all such use limitations submitted, advise the airport proprietor if it believes the limitation in question is or is not unjustly discriminatory or detrimental to the national air transportation system.

This review procedure is vital to the maintenance of harmonious relations between airport operators, air carriers and the FAA. By giving the FAA timely notification of use restrictions, supported by a thorough analysis of the alternative courses that have been considered, airport proprietors can assure FAA support, which may be necessary to administer the restriction in question successfully 'and which will prove valuable in any litigation which may ensue. If litigation over use restrictions does occur, the FAA will in appropriate cases ask the Justice Department to intervene or file amicus curiae in support of userestrictions it considers valid. On the other hand, an airport proprietor that imposes a use restriction without analyzing alternatives and consulting with FAA cannot expect FAA to provide expert advice or to support its policies. The FAA will not endorse any proposed use restriction that has not had prior review, including public and airport user review as well as FAA review, nor will it recognize as valid any such restrictions that as a result of FAA review are considered to be unjustly discriminatory or a significant disruption of the air transportation system of the United States. In the latter case, the United States may institute or support litigation challenging an unacceptable use restriction.

E. Private Sector Responsibility

Air Carriers are responsible for assuring that the required portion of their operating fleets meet Part 36 noise levels within the time period required by federal regulations. Within that period it is also the carriers' responsibility to assure that an efficient and effective noise reduction plan is established that covers the retirement or retrofit of aircraft not meeting Part 36 as well as the operation of those aircraft in a manner designed to minimize their impact on noise sensitive communities. To this end, air carriers should attempt to schedule the operations of non-complying airplanes into airports that do not have noise problems.

Air carriers can enter into agreements with airport operators to minimize the impact of aircraft noise through limitations on aircraft us These agreements, in certain cases, will be subject to FAA review and advice. The carriers should also fly their airplanes on schedules utilizing appropriate noise abatement operating procedures designed to minimize noise impacts.

Air travelers generally should bear the cost of noise reduction, consistent with sound economic principal and federal policy of internalizing the adverse environmental consequences in the price of a service or product.

Residents and prospective residents in areas surrounding airports should seek to understand the noise problem and what steps can reasonably be taken to minimize its effect on people. Recognizing that individual and community responses to aircraft noise differ substantially and that for some individuals, the reduced level of noise resulting from the implementation of this policy may not eliminate the annoyance or irritation. Prospective residents, considering moving into airport and noise impacted areas should be aware of the effect of noise on their quality of life.


Aircraft noise abatement is a complex and controversial issue. In the wealth of information about the subject and midst the labyrinth of jurisdictional responsibilities, there are a few simple thoughts that should not be forgotten. In a society in which we are making rapid strides to improve the quality of life for all of our people, the continuing annoyance and irritation of excessive aircraft noise is an unwarranted intrusion upon the lives of some six million Americans. The federal government remains committed to taking all technologically feasible and economically reasonable actions to reduce excessive aircraft noise at its source and, working with airport proprietors, to reduce its impact on people.

It is clear, however, that the only successful attack that can be launched on this problem is one that involves the cooperative participation of all levels of government -- state, federal and local -- as well as airport operators, air carriers, aeronautical manufacturers, and airport neighbors. Only if each of these parties performs all the functions for which it is uniquely suited will we achieve significant and lasting progress in reducing both the number of people exposed to serious levels of aircraft noise and the severity of noise exposure for each and every American.

Although federal action to reduce the noise levels of operating aircraft has been long in coming, we hope that the time has enabled us to develop a policy which will work and will result in less noise exposure over the longer term as well as provide immediate relief. By the actions set forth in this policy, including those directed by the President, we are exercising those federal responsibilities that the Congress has required of us. We have set forth a federal action plan for the future so that other essential parties in the noise reduction effort can take complementary action and make their plans with a clear understanding of what the federal government has done and intends to do. Finally, we have set forth what we believe to be the responsibilities of other parties -- airport operators, industry and local government -- since the effectiveness of the federal action we take today is contingent on what these other parties do.

We thus invite these other parties to consult with us about their plans and proposals, to suggest innovative ways of meeting the noise problem in their communities, and to tell us how we can do our job more effectively. In turn, we will not hesitate to advise local governments and airport proprietors that they must exercise control over land use development and acquire additional land around airports to ensure that the national objective of confining severe-aircraft noise to within the airport boundary is achieved. Nor will we hesitate to inform the air carriers and aeronautical manufacturers what this policy requires of them.

Working together, in the spirit of close cooperation and open communication, we will bring about quieter skies for all American citizens.

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