Help for those bothered by airplane noise

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This article in the Los Angeles Times describes a new tool, the Airnoise button, developed to help people report airplane noise. Airplane noise has always been a problem, but airplane noise has been exacerbated by the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen program, which uses satellite navigation to guide airplanes on more precise approach paths to their destinations. NextGen increases fuel efficiency and allows closer spacing of planes, but it also concentrates airplane noise over smaller areas. The complaints about the NextGen noise problem has been covered in these pages and in many newspaper reports from around the country.

Due to a phenomenon called “regulatory capture,” the FAA appears more concerned about the profits of the airplane manufacturers, airline companies, and airports than about the health and well-being of the Americans under the flight paths. And the FAA believes airplane noise is “just a nuisance,” even though it has been shown to be a risk factor for hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and death.

One of the things government officials say when confronted about a problem is that “nobody ever complained.” But people are complaining about airplane noise, so the FAA’s response, as noted in the Los Angeles Times article, has been to attribute a large number of complaints to a handful of people. And the FAA might have a point, but the agency fails to acknowledge that their cumbersome procedures make it difficult for people to complain. After all, most people have more important things to do in their busy lives than to hunt down the right online form and file a complaint every time a plane flies over their house.

But the FAA may have to come up with a different excuse soon, as Airnoise makes it simple and easy to file airplane noise complaints–just one simple click of the Airnoise proprietary button, or a click on the Airnoise smartphone app, and your complaint is on its way.

I hope all affected by aircraft noise will use Airnoise to file complaints, so that the FAA and congressional committees that govern and fund them can no longer pretend that only a handful of people are concerned about aviation noise.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Comments (2)

  1. Kenneth Phillips

    The new 65dB limits at BWI have gone from 3 miles from the runway to about 15 miles from the runway, and have doubled their width. Homes are experiencing an average of 130 x 50+ dB impact PER DAY. They are also concentrating the impact on one area of our community, which has seen only a 2% increase in home values vs. 8% for the county as a whole. There is no doubt that this is due to the massive increase in jet noise since 2014. The hundreds of departures a day, especially in the sleeping hours (10-12 p.m. and 4-6 a.m.) impact tens of thousands of people, so it is more than just a handful who will be complaining with once they find out how to do so. Once the data starts coming out from noise surveys, it will be very clear that FAA’s “simulation” used to bypass community involvement is an elaborate fraud. NextGen is a front for FAA and airline industry’s utopian dream of permanent jet highways in our sky. They spent a lot of money on top quality marketing consultation to learn how to sell this lie to our elected officials and leaders while completely bypassing community involvement. To their credit, they very astutely did a “sky grab” which now forces the victims of their fascist evil to fight back at great expense to claw back the peace and tranquility and uninterrupted sleep and clean environment that is rightfully the American peoples’. The leaders of FAA and their conspirators in the industry who are making billions from NextGen are criminals guilty of knowingly harming Americans who live around NextGen airports while lying about the impact to these communities. All we have in Congress are idiots who rant about immigration, socialism, tax cuts for business and all kinds of other hypothetical and vague idealistic notions while doing NOTHING about the imminent matter at hand, which is the desolation of formerly healthy, thriving, clean and quiet family communities around FAA airports. For the sake of 100 people to fly out of BWI on a jet at 4:30 a.m., there are 10,000 homes being shaken and countless individuals woke from healthy sleep patterns and having normal activities interrupted. They must endure 2 hours of 65+ dB events 24/7 365 days a year. Our community has gone through great suffering and been wounded and trampled upon by this beastly industry. Where are the muckrakers? Where are the Upton sinclairs of our day? Where are the Ida Tarbells? Is every media pundit and politician so focused on ideological divides that they have forgotten their job is to protect the innocent and the powerless??? When, oh when, will some real leaders in our government step to the plate and go to bat against this environmental injustice that is on a similar scale to three mile island and Chernobyl?

  2. Daniel Fink MD

    Mr. Phillips: I don’t know the particulars at BWI but if enough people document the problem and complain to enough elected officials all around the country, something will be done. In Europe, the adverse health impacts of transportation noise in general and aircraft noise specifically are well-recognized, and actions are being taken to protect the public’s health and well-being.

    That’s why I thought this new app was so important. The FAA does not make it easy to file a complaint.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *