Office of Chief Counsel
Attn: Rules Docket (AGC-200), Docket 30109
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave. S. W.
Washington, DC 20591    

September 10, 2000

REVISION OF NATONAL AVIATION NOISE ABATEMENT POLICY 2000 

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.
 
Aviation noise is a major public concern.  Policy changes should increase 
responsiveness to the needs of the impacted citizens who live near airports 
and flight paths.

Citizens need information about potential noise threats in order to make 
informed vital personal decisions - such as where to invest in a residence. 
They often need this information to act as responsible citizens when they 
vote on candidates, bond issues and local ordinances.  The FAA has an 
obligation to freely divulge information regarding noise around airports.

Citizens constantly make life decisions, based on incomplete information. 
They should have access to the best available information about potential 
aviation noise -- even if it is preliminary or incomplete.

Therefore, documents containing pre-decisional noise related information 
should not be withheld from the public by reason of Exemption 5 under the 
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [5 U.S.C. S 552(b) (6)]. The FOIA allows 
agencies to administratively waive the application of Exemption 5 when 
national security is not jeopardized.  

Exemption 5 is intended to protect federal employees from potentially 
embarrassing disclosure of their pre-decisional deliberations.  Because of 
the serious impacts of aviation noise, it is far more important to protect 
residents whose financial well being and health potentially may be adversely 
affected. 

The withholding of information from the public frequently puts the FAA into 
an adversarial relationship with the taxpayers who fund its activities. 

1.  It is proposed that the FAA Noise Policy be changed to administratively 
require that pre-decisional information be made public in response to FOIA 
requests.  This should apply to all correspondence, meetings notes and other 
documents related to aviation noise, including noise studies developed in 
connection with draft and final Environmental Impact Studies, studies of 
runway orientations, analyses of alternative flight paths below 4,000 feet, 
evaluations of noise footprints, and so forth.

2.  The FAA should designate a citizens'ombudsman to intercede on behalf of 
residents and citizen's groups, and help to implement this policy change, 
during the normal FOIA appeal process, when documents related to noise have 
been withheld.

Leonard Kranser