dba Stop the Noise! Coalition (STN)
              National Helicopter Noise Coalition (NHNC)
                   GERALD A. SILVER, PRESIDENT
                        P. O. BOX 260205
                        ENCINO, CA 91426
                  EMAIL:  gsilver@sprintmail.com  
                                          *  In the matter of:
                                          *  AVIATION NOISE ABATEMENT
                                          *  POLICY 2000
                                          *  REGULATORY DOCKET 30109
                                          *  REQUEST FOR COMMENTS
                                          *  August 10, 2000
                                          *  Submitted to
                                          *  Office of Chief Counsel
                                          *  Attn: Rules Docket (AGC-200),
                                          *  Docket 30109
                                          *  Federal Aviation Administration
                                          *  800 Independence Ave. S. W.
                                          *  Washington, DC 20591

This document is in response to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA)
efforts to seek public comment to help the agency revise the 1976 National
Aviation Noise Abatement Policy.

In 1976, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published its Aviation 
Noise Abatement Policy, which was intended to provide a course of action 
for reducing aviation noise. Unfortunately the principles contained in that 
document and subsequent legislative and regulatory actions were an abysmal 
failure at addressing the noise problem. It did not result in a dramatic 
reduction in the size and scope of the noise problem that now adversely 
affects millions of American residents.

The lack of an effective policy during the past 25 years, and the 
industry-protective nature of the FAA has led to misrepresenting the true  
scope of the noise problem. Both Congress and the public have been misled  
into believing that fair and balanced measures were in place to protect the 
environment, residents and preserve a viable aviation community. In reality 
the FAA has turned a blind eye to communties--ignoring the growing  
helicopter noise problem, and the need to phase out general aviation  
business jets (Stage 2), under 75,000 pounds. The Agency has a myopic view  
of noise, assuming that noise outside of the 65 DNL is not a "real" problem, 
or does not impact millions of residents who live near airports.

The DOT is now considering a revised policy statement that may extend to
all forms of transportation noise. This long over-due revision is divided  
into two parts: 

First, the Secretary will publish a policy statement broadly addressing 
noise concerns. Second, based on this policy statement, the FAA  
Administrator will then issue aviation noise policy guidelines.

The issuance of a draft document on aviation noise abatement is the first
step in the process to develop the aviation noise  policy. According to the 
FAA, "it is intended to stimulate ideas that will  result in comments to the 
public docket". It is regrettable that the FAA did  not allow adequate time 
for public comment, nor did it give wide-spread  notice to community 
organizations and individuals that the national noise  policy was being 
revised. It goes without saying that the aviation industry,  with its 
powerful lobbying and close ties to the FAA, will have undue  influence over 
any policy decisions. 

The FAA states that "its revised policy will reaffirm the major tenets of
the 1976 Aviation Noise Abatement Policy and include subsequent  
developments. It summarizes current conditions affecting aviation and sets  
forth goals, policies, and strategies for addressing them. This policy  
document also outlines the foundations and methodologies for assessing  
aviation noise, promoting research and  development in aircraft noise 
reduction technology and noise abatement  procedures, and promoting 
compatible usage of noise impacted lands.

Finally, it presents a selective listing of reference materials that form 
the basis for the Federal Government's aviation noise policies."

These goals are commendable. However in light of the FAA's long history
of failures to adequately address the national noise problem, it is hoped  
that the revision will in fact confront the real noise problems and provide 
meaningful answers. 

In Order to Frame a Meaningful Noise Policy, the FAA's Conflict of Interest 
              with the Aviation Industry Must Be Addressed Immediately

The FAA has a conflicting mission, serving both as regulator and the  
promoter of aviation. The FAA's role as a "booster club" for the aviation  
industry, financier of aviation and airport expansion, and role as noise,  
safety and health regulator are in conflict. These missions are out of  
balance as clearly demonstrated by the FAA's Noise Abatement Policy. This  
conflict is no where more clear than the FAA's use of terminology. The noise 
policy is characterized as an "abatement" policy, when in reality the real  
intent of the policy is to encourage noise "mitigation".

Noise mitigation addresses reducing the noise impacts by placing the burden 
on residents (read--soundproofing a handful of dwellings in the 65 DNL near 
airports). Noise abatement addresses reducing noise at its source 
(read--curfews, phase out of noisy Stage 2 general aviation (GA) jets,  
limiting access to airports and placing restrictions on operations)  The 
role of the FAA must change. The FAA cannot effectively do its job of  
abating noise unless it turns that responsibility over to the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA). The FAA must increase its focus on safety, crash  
prevention, and crash investigation. Instead, the EPA should oversee  
environmental regulation and address the noise problem, while local  
governments should oversee airport expansion, airport access and land use  

The FAA makes no secret of its role as an aviation booster club. A recent  
FAA publication, FAA Aviation Forecasts, Fiscal Years 1996-2007 begins its  
executive summary with the headline, "Two Years of Traffic Growth and  
Profits Too!"

The logical solution to the conflict of interest is to remove the conflict  
by dividing FAA's roles between more appropriate agencies. The FAA should  
remain the regulator of passenger and aircraft safety. The EPA should be the 
regulator of environmental quality, noise and aviation's damaging health  
impacts. The multi-billion dollar airline industry already serves as the  
booster club, it is not an appropriate role for the FAA. Finally local  
communities must have full control over the development, expansion and  
airport access at local airports. 

The FAA's Short Comment Period Effectively Discourages Public Participation 
                      and Distorts the Scope of the Problem
The FAA has lived with its Noise Abatement Policy since 1976, and now after 
25 years it is in a sudden rush to revise it. The FAA  released the draft  
policy statement with only a very limited public comment period--a total of 
only six weeks, and then late in late summer 2000, when many people are on  
vacation, or community groups unable to comment.

Moreover, the FAA has released its draft just before the Government  
Accounting Office (GAO) was about to publish their own study of airport  
noise. This timing limits public participation and excludes potentially  
relevant information. This is another example of the unresponsive actions of 
the FAA when it comes to addressing noise reduction. If the FAA wants  
serious, detailed and responsible public participation, it should extend the 
current comment period by two months, and then leave the file open for  
another 90 days for supplementary comment. It must also launch a broad-based 
communication effort to reach millions of residents living near airports,  
heavily impacted by noise. Only after widespread notice has been given, with 
adequate response time, should the FAA then revise its policy. This should  
obviously be after the GAO study is complete and released to the public.

Regulate Helicopters as Well as Experimental and Ultra-Light Aircraft the  
                               Same as Other Aircraft
Unregulated helicopters have become a modern-day form of urban blight and  
have decimated urban, suburban, and wilderness areas. The major contributors 
to the helicopter noise problem are the media and sight-seeing (tourist)  

Helicopters are virtually unregulated by the FAA today. These aircraft are  
allowed to fly at any altitude (that the pilot deems safe), use any route  
(except in regulated airspace), fly at any hour of the day or night, with  
any frequency, and are permitted to hover or circle over one location,  
without limit.

Helicopters often land and take off in or near residential areas, and are  
not required to use new quieter technology. As a result of this lack of  
oversight by the FAA, helicopters destroy the health and well being of  
hundreds of thousands of residents living near airports, heliports and  

The FAA should establish a 2,000-foot (AGL) minimum over populated areas. It 
must establish new noise standards for helicopters and require new craft to 
be at least 10 dBA quieter than the current fleet. The FAA must mandate a  
phase-out of the noisiest craft to be completed by 2005. Restrictions need  
to be put in place to preclude siting heliports within one mile of  
residential areas.

Freeways should not be arbitrarily defined as helicopter routes. The FAA  
must establish mandatory minimum impact flight paths over all metropolitan  
areas, and require a preference for industrial routes rather than  
residential routes.

This document next describes the problems faced at one urban airport--Van  
Nuys Airport (VNY), to illustrate the severity of the national urban  
helicopter problem. VNY is representative of dozens of similar urban  
airports with heavy training, sight-seeing and media helicopter operations: 

A night-time helicopter curfew is urgently needed and long overdue for VNY.

A 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. helicopter curfew, for example, would be an important  
step to limit the out-of-control expansion of helicopters at VNY.

As early as 5 a.m. each morning San Fernando Valley residents are awakened  
by a stream of noisy media helicopters that emerge from VNY. Well before  
dawn these aircraft fly low over Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and  
through the Cahuenga Pass. They leave in their path a noise trail that wakes 
up residents and disturbs sleep. Then the whole process is reversed as a  
fleet of media helicopters repeats the process during afternoon drive time  
and into the late evening hours.

The helicopter industry would like the world to believe that their  
helicopter traffic reports every "six minutes" are indispensable. They would 
like the FAA and the public to think that without helicopter air cover,  
traffic would grind to a halt. But nothing is further from the truth.

Van Nuys Airport has become the region's major helicopter base, covering  
traffic from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. When one of the dozen or  
more media helicopters stationed at VNY takes flight in the early morning, a 
traffic reporter immediately calls back to the radio or TV station and asks 
about traffic conditions, locations of accidents, tie ups, etc. At the  
station, a traffic reporter views a computer monitor and police scanners.
The reporter takes notes, logs traffic jams and the like.

But the source of traffic information is not the helicopters, but an  
amazingly efficient system developed by Caltrans. Caltrans has installed  
hundreds of traffic monitoring loops in the entire freeway network with  
dozens of video "jam cams". These devices monitor every foot of freeway,  
giving traffic speeds on each lane of traffic, road conditions and the like. 

These incidents, closures, maps and video pictures are then transmitted over 
the Internet to the local news outlets. (The system can be viewed by logging 
on to http://traffic.maxwell.com/la/).

The Caltrans system works night and day, in good or bad weather, and  
requires no helicopters and generates no smog or air pollution. It's the  
ideal, pollution free means to report on traffic to the motoring public.

Once airborne, the traffic helicopters take their cue from the Caltrans  
reporting system and promptly fly to a traffic problem. Often a dozen or  
more helicopters will hover over an accident, creating enormous noise and  
chaos on the ground. Worse, they become a safety problem to the police and  
emergency helicopters that must do their work overhead. This gaggle of  
helicopters overburdens the FAA's traffic controllers who must manage some  
of the world's most congested airspace.

Police officers report that media helicopters interfere with police work and 
traffic investigations. Media and traffic helicopter operations are not  
really necessary, and the same information can be gathered and disseminated 
to the traveling public without any airborne operations.

There are legal or regulatory constraints imposed by the FAA that prevent  
the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) from easily implementing a night-time 
helicopter curfew at VNY. Since all helicopters are considered Stage 2  
aircraft, they can be controlled by the Airport after completing an FAA Part 
161 Study.

The FAA will no doubt face a political minefield (read--don't alienate the  
powerful news media), if it attempts to regulate the helicopter industry.
Their industry trade group, Helicopter Associates International (HAI),  
together with local helicopter media associations, will do everything in  
their power to block any FAA action.

It will take a strong and courageous FAA to do what is right for the  
public. Judging from past performance, it will take years before even the  
smallest effort to limit helicopter noise takes place.

The FAA Must Establish a 3,000-Foot Minimum AGL Height  Requirement for All 
                     Aircraft Not Taking Off or Landing

Aircraft that are nearer the ground are significantly louder than those at  
higher altitudes. As a general rule, noise decreases by 6 decibels for each 
doubling of the distance between source and receiver (although atmospheric  
conditions can significantly affect noise propagation). Therefore aircraft  
at 3,000 feet AGL are about half as loud as the same aircraft at 1,000 feet.
A 3,000-foot minimum altitude rule primarily would reduce noise from  
helicopters, small aircraft, and air tourism, since commercial passenger  
aircraft fly substantially higher.

The rule would require strict enforcement including greater use of the  
Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders with  
Global Positioning (GPS) capability. The FAA must change its policy to allow 
conventional radar to be used for enforcement. Transponders that can record 
altitude and location of an craft should be used to determine violations of 
the minimum altitudes.

Also, use of Visual Flight Rule (VFR) flights should be greatly restricted  
over urban areas, so as to induce greater reliance upon Instrument Flight  
Rule (IFR) operations. 

                              Ban Nighttime Flights
One of the greatest shortcomings of the Draft Noise Abatement Policy is that 
night operations and sleep disturbance is almost totally neglected. This is 
a glaring omission in the draft policy document. Sleep disturbance is  
mentioned only four times in the approximately 25,000 word document, and  
then, in a tangential manner. Yet it is one of the most devastating aviation 
noise impacts.

Nighttime flights repeatedly wake residents. Repeatedly waking people up at 
night leads to sleep deprivation and its resulting health effects causing  
billions of dollars in lost productivity, thousands of automobile and  
workplace accidents, and strained family and community relations.

Noise induced sleep loss can be caused by noise spikes of 8-10 dBA above  
ambient noise levels (Griefahn, B., 1990, Research on Noise and Sleep:  
Present State, Noise as a Public Health Problem, Vol. 5, Swedish Council for 
Building Research, Stockholm). It is not uncommon for aircraft to cause  
sleep interference, when single event aircraft noise exceeds 55 decibels.
Sleep interference without awakenings, reduce the quality of sleep by  
shifting sleepers out of deeper levels of sleep.

Communities typically adopt noise ordinances to protect against nighttime 
sleep interference. The 50 dBA nighttime maximum is often selected as the  
noise limit. The same limit should apply to aircraft. For most domestic  
airports, this would require a curfew. Many airports around the world use  
curfews to provide nighttime peace and quiet for their residents.

The FAA should establish a nationwide nighttime curfew from 10 PM to 7 AM  
at airports, exempting only emergency, delayed, and diverted flights. This  
curfew should apply to all Stage 2 aircraft, including jets under 75,000  
lbs., and all helicopters, except in emergency service.  

           The FAA Should Abandon the Day-Night Level Noise Standard
                                 of 65 dBA DNL
Many critics of aircraft noise have raised serious objections to the use of 
averaging when addressing the noise problem. One individual has suggested  
averaging distorts the real nature of noise events. "Dropping a feather on  
someone's head every minute for one hour, following by a large brick would  
results in the conclusion that, on average, the impact is equal to dropping 
a ping pong ball every minute for one hour." Another claims that "a blow  
from Michael Tyson, averaged over an hour, is equivalent to nothing more  
than a love pat."

Averaging hides the true impact of noise on individuals. The FAA has  
unjustifiably accepted the 65 dBA DNL as the standard for determining  
significant noise impact. In reality, substantial impacts occur to millions 
of people well below the 65 decibel level.

The 65 DNL standard is inadequate for many reasons. From a scientific  
perspective, the 65 decibel level standard is supposed to correlate to  
individuals being "highly annoyed" by the noise level. But this is  
subjective-not scientific. The annoyance level between individuals differs  
greatly, and it is not responsible, nor fair to apply the same arbitrary  
"highly annoyed" standard to everyone.

Substantial impact occurs well before people become highly annoyed. Research 
has shown that that "high annoyance" occurs around 57 decibels, not 65  
(Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Dec. 1998, 3432).  The EPA  
had identified 55 dBA DNL as a more appropriate noise level. The 55 dBA DNL 
value remains inadequate for two reasons that have more to do with the  
metrics, or noise descriptors, than a particular value.

(1) Using dBA or the "A" scale does not adequately account for low frequency 
noise. The "A" weighting discounts low frequency noise by 40 or more  
decibels. A standard that accounts for low frequency noise using the "C"  
weighting is necessary to reflect the impact of low frequency noise, such as 
65 dBC DNL.

(2) The DNL refers to a "day-night level," a yearly average. Averages,  
however, do not adequately account for the impacts of aircraft noise on  
individuals. Averages understate "single events" and it is these single loud 
noises as the airplanes fly overhead that can disrupt sleep and adversely  
impact an individual's well-being. Being awakened at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. and  
not getting a full night's sleep can negatively affect the individual's  
activities throughout the day -- at work, traveling, and at home.

Loud "single noise events" also intrude on conversations, television 
viewing, reading, and speaking on the telephone. These "single events" rob  
people of a decent quality of life and potentially could have lasting health 
effects. Many communities restrict single events to 55-65 dBA in residential 

                  The FAA Must Ban National Park Over-flights  

The draft noise policy statement currently states that, "The overarching  
goal is to identify how best to provide access to the airspace over national 
parks while ensuring all park visitors a quality experience and protecting  
park resources" (Policy Element 6).

Non-emergency access to airspace over national parks is inappropriate,  
causes a great deal of concern to park visitors and destroys the natural  
ambiance of the parks. The FAA's goal of a quality visit is impossible to  
achieve, as long a aircraft are allowed to destroy the natural settings. 
More studies are not needed to determine what noise levels interfere with  
natural quiet in parks and wilderness areas. Any aircraft noise interferes.
Therefore, aircraft should not be allowed to fly within 10 miles of  
non-urban national parks, wilderness areas, national monuments, national  
seashores, and other sensitive and pristine public lands.

The National Parks and airspace should be under exclusive control of the  
Secretary of Dept. of Interior, not the FAA.

       The FAA Must Revise ANCA and Phase-out Noisy Stage 2 Jet Aircraft,
                                    Under 75,000 lbs.
Many communities near general aviation (GA) airports are plagued by noisy  
Stage 2 jet aircraft, under 75,000 lbs. ANCA failed to address this class of 
aircraft that is now a major part of the noise problem. At many of the  
nation's GA airports, it is the Gulfstreams, Lears and other Stage 2  
aircraft that the FAA has allowed to continue to operate. To date, the FAA  
has no phase-out plan in place. This failure to address the significant  
noise problem at airports such as Van Nuys or Teterboro is the result of the 
heavy lobbying efforts by small jet aircraft manufacturers.

The Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA), has placed an unfair and  
unreasonable burden on airport operators and communities. The fact that not 
a single Part 161 Study has been completed is true testimony to ANCA's  
failure over the last 10 years.

The FAA must being a phase-out program for aircraft weighing less than  
75,000 pounds, that do not meet Stage 3 noise standards. Voluntary "Fly  
Friendly" agreements by aircraft owners, have been an abysmal failure. There 
is little incentive for these operators to buy quieter equipment. (See  
Section 5.4 of the Draft Policy, discussing Stage 1 and Stage 2 phase-outs).

Regulations are needed for craft less than 75,000 pounds, just like those  
for craft more than 75,000 pounds, requiring at least a 10 dB decrease from 
existing noise levels.