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Frequently Asked Questions

Aviation Noise

How do I file a noise complaint?

Answer: Airports are in the best position to address local concerns and should be the first point of contact.

However, to learn more about how the FAA is working to address noise issues or to submit a complaint or inquiry, please visit: https://www.faa.gov/noise/inquiries/.

What is the FAA doing to reduce airplane noise?

Answer: The FAA actively supports a number of initiatives that have helped reduce the number of people exposed to significant aviation noise. One of these initiatives includes the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program. This program identifies technologies that reduce noise, fuel burn, and emissions. The FAA also works with communities to eliminate or mitigate incompatible land use near airports and provides federal funds to mitigate the adverse impacts of aircraft noise in homes and schools near airports.

To find out more about how the FAA and Industry are working on these issues, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/research/aircraft_technology/cleen/.

What is the FAA doing to improve aircraft technology for noise?

Answer: The FAA has developed the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) Program to identify technologies that will reduce noise, emissions, and fuel burn.

To find out more about the FAA's CLEEN Program, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/research/aircraft_technology/cleen/.

What is a noise abatement procedure?

Answer: Noise Abatement procedure is a procedure used by aircraft at an airport to minimize the impact of noise on the communities surrounding an airport.

To learn more about the FAA Airport Noise Program, visit: https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=18114.

What is DNL and why does the FAA use it?

Answer: The Day Night Average Sound Level (DNL or Ldn) noise metric is used to reflect a person's cumulative exposure to sound over a 24-hour period. DNL takes into account both the amount of noise from each aircraft operation as well as the total number of operations flying throughout the day and applies an additional 10dB weighting for night time flights between 10pm and 7am.

DNL is the FAA's required noise metric for the assessment of aircraft noise and was adopted through 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 150 as required to meet the provisions of the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979. It should be made clear that DNL is an agency metric, not just used for specific lines of business. Part 150 applies broadly across the agency for this purpose not just for the airport specific provisions.

To learn about the Fundamentals of Noise and Sound, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/policy_guidance/noise/basics/.

What is a noise model?

Answer: Noise models are computer models used to predict the levels of aircraft noise exposure produced over a geographic area. Noise models are used to efficiently and accurately evaluate aircraft noise including assessing the potential noise impacts resulting from changes in aircraft operations.

The Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT) is the FAA's required noise and environmental modeling application for all U.S. domestic regulatory analyses requiring FAA review. AEDT replaces several legacy environmental modeling tools including; The Integrated Noise Model (INM), The Noise Integrated Routing System (NIRS) and the Emissions Dispersion Modeling System (EDMS).

Why does the FAA use noise modeling vs noise monitoring?

Answer: Due to the need to generate detailed noise results over large areas, noise modeling is the only practical way to accurately and reliably determine geospatial noise effects in the surrounding community when analyzing proposals related to aviation noise.

The many challenges and limitations to using noise measurements for evaluating airport vicinity noise are summarized below:

  • Non-aircraft sound can have a large influence on noise monitoring data, which can be difficult to separate from aircraft noise during data post-processing.
  • Long-term (e.g., year-long) noise monitoring requires regular maintenance and calibration of the individual noise monitors on a continuous, year-round basis, which has considerable costs.
  • To ensure the same accuracy and fidelity of data generated by noise models, an extremely large number of noise monitoring locations is required. (e.g. tens of thousands of noise monitors, collecting year-round data in the vicinity of an airport would be needed to match the fidelity and accuracy of noise modeling).
  • Noise monitoring data is not capable of analyzing either "what if" scenarios or proposed future action airport and air space scenarios

How does the FAA regulate aircraft noise?

Answer: The FAA regulates the maximum noise level that an individual civilian aircraft can emit through requiring aircraft to meet noise certification standards. For transport category aircraft and helicopters, these standards designate changes in maximum noise level requirements by "stage" designation.

The U.S. noise standards are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 14 Part 36 - Noise Standards: Aircraft Type and Airworthiness Certification (14 CFR Part 36).

To learn more about Aircraft Noise Levels and Stages, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/noise/levels/.

What is noise and how is it considered?

Answer: Noise is sound that is unwanted and when measured for its effect on people considers the response of the human ear. The human ear hears sound pressures over a wide range but also perceives how loud a sounds is differently depending on the pitch or frequency of the sound.

The loudness of a noise is most often described in decibels, which are measured on a logarithmic scale, corresponding to the way our ears interpret sound pressures. When considering the noise people are exposed to, the A-weighted frequency scale is most often used, which most closely approximates how the human ear responds to different sound frequencies. Different noise metrics including the Day-Night Level (DNL) or Sound Exposure Level (SEL) can then be created which take into account different ways of looking at noise.

How does the FAA model noise?

Answer: The FAA models aircraft noise by using sophisticated computer models to predict the levels of aircraft noise exposure produced over a geographic area. Noise models are used to efficiently and accurately evaluate aircraft noise including assessing the potential noise impacts resulting from changes in aircraft operations.

The Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT) is the FAA's required noise and environmental modeling application for all U.S. domestic regulatory analyses requiring FAA review. AEDT incorporates an extensive aircraft performance database as well as detailed aircraft noise and emissions information to accurately conduct environmental analysis around airports and the surrounding airspace.

Understanding Environmental Policy

How does the FAA do Environmental Review?

Answer: The FAA's primary mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance and other environmental responsibilities are integral components of that mission. The FAA is responsible for complying with the procedures and policies of NEPA and other environmental laws, regulations, and orders applicable to FAA actions.

Under NEPA, the Federal Agencies are required to disclose to decision-makers and the interested public a clear and accurate description of the potential environmental impacts that could arise from proposed Federal actions. The FAA decision-making process must consider and disclose the potential impacts of a proposed action and its alternatives on the quality of the human environment.

In meeting its NEPA obligations, the FAA should seek to achieve the policy objectives of 40 CFR § 1500.2 to the fullest extent possible. Once the FAA determines that NEPA applies to a proposed action, it needs to decide on the appropriate level of review. The three levels of NEPA review are Categorical Exclusion (CATEX), Environmental Assessment (EA), and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Specifically, each level of NEPA review considers the potential effects of the proposed action on the environmental resource categories identified in FAA Order 1050.1F. The FAA uses the corresponding thresholds that serve as specific indicators of significant impact for some environmental impact categories.

Environmental Study Process

Consideration of a Proposed Action under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

NEPA requires that the FAA evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of a proposed action.

Preliminary Technical Review

FAA conducts an internal technical review before deciding to consider moving forward with an environmental review.

Preliminary Environmental Review

FAA conducts an internal environmental review to evaluate any potential environmental concerns.

Internal Review and choice of appropriate level of NEPA review

Internal analysis such as the noise screening reports as well as input from the public are used to assist the FAA in determining the appropriate level of NEPA review to conduct.

Extraordinary Circumstances

Paragraph 5-2 of FAA Order 1050.1F identifies the range of factors which define Extraordinary Circumstances.

Significant Impacts

The FAA uses thresholds that serve as specific indicators of significant impact for some environmental impact categories. FAA proposed actions that would result in impacts at or above these thresholds require the preparation of an EIS, unless impacts can be reduced below threshold levels.

Diagram of NEPA Process

What is NEPA?

Answer: NEPA stands for the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 that requires analysis of potential impacts to the environment and when there are, considering alternatives and mitigation before approving federal actions. It was enacted in response to federal decision-making that did not adequately consider environmental impacts.

To learn more about NEPA, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/airports/environmental/nepa/.

What is the FAA doing around environmental protection?

Answer: NEPA stands for the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 that requires analysis of potential impacts to the environment and when there are, considering alternatives and mitigation before approving federal actions. It was enacted in response to federal decision-making that did not adequately consider environmental impacts.

What is the FAA doing around environmental protection?

Answer: The FAA follows the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in making changes to the airspace. The FAA has established programs for air quality, airport noise, wildlife hazard mitigation, environmental reviews, and compatible land use.

To find out more about the Airport Environmental Programs, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/airports/environmental/.

What is an Environmental Review?

Answer: An environmental review is the process of reviewing a project and its potential environmental impacts to determine whether it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and related laws and authorities.

Environmental reviews are a critical element in FAA's efforts to manage airspace capacity and change aircraft routing while ensuring that environmental impacts, enhancements, and protection considerations are fully and properly analyzed. We provide environmental reviews for all of FAA's airspace redesign and procedure development projects concerning air space use and air traffic.

To learn more about the FAA's Environmental Review Process, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/environmental_issues/ared_documentation/.

What are the levels of Environmental Review the FAA considers as they follow NEPA?

Answer: Once the FAA determines that NEPA applies to a proposed action, it needs to decide on the appropriate level of review. The three levels of NEPA review are Categorical Exclusion (CATEX), Environmental Assessment (EA), and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

A Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) level of NEPA review is applicable for an established list of actions that do not, individually or cumulatively, have a significant impact on the environment. Additionally, the CATEX analyzes for the potential for extraordinary circumstances that could require more detailed NEPA review.

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a concise public document that provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The purpose of an EA level of review is to determine whether a proposed action has the potential to significantly affect the human environment. If none of the potential impacts assessed in the EA are determined to be significant, the responsible FAA official prepares a FONSI, which briefly presents, in writing, the reasons why an action, not otherwise categorically excluded, would not have a significant impact on the human environment.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a detailed written statement required under NEPA when one or more environmental impacts would be significant and mitigation measures cannot reduce the impact(s) below significant levels. Direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts must be considered when determining significance. Where an EIS is prepared, the FAA will prepare a Record of Decision to document the FAA's decision on the proposed action, state whether all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the selected alternatives have been adopted, and if not, why; and identify and discuss all factors, including any essential considerations of national policy, that were balanced by the agency in making its decision and state how those considerations entered into the decision.

What is CATEX?

Answer: A Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) level of NEPA review is applicable for an established list of actions that do not, individually or cumulatively, have a significant impact on the environment. Additionally, the CATEX analyzes for the potential for extraordinary circumstances that could require more detailed NEPA review.

To find out more about FAA NEPA procedures, visit: https://www.faa.gov/airports/environmental/nepa/.

What is an EA?

Answer: An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a concise public document that provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The purpose of an EA level of review is to determine whether a proposed action has the potential to significantly affect the human environment. If none of the potential impacts assessed in the EA are determined to be significant, the responsible FAA official prepares a FONSI, which briefly presents, in writing, the reasons why an action, not otherwise categorically excluded, would not have a significant impact on the human environment.

What is an EIS?

Answer: EIS is an acronym for Environmental Impact Statement. An EIS is a clear, concise, and appropriately detailed document that provides the agency decision makers and the public with a full and fair discussion of the significant environmental impacts of the Proposed Action and reasonable alternatives.

An EIS is a detailed written statement required under NEPA when one or more environmental impacts would be significant and mitigation measures cannot reduce the impact(s) below significant levels. Direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts must be considered when determining significance.

Learn more about Environmental Impact Statements and best practices:
https://www.faa.gov/airports/environmental/eis_best_practices/?sect=intro.

Why doesn't the FAA do more Environmental Review?

Answer: Proposed actions and decisions by FAA officials are subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The FAA is responsible for complying with the procedures and policies of NEPA and other environmental laws, regulations, and orders applicable to FAA actions. The FAA decision-making process must consider and disclose the potential impacts of a proposed action and its alternatives on the quality of the human environment. In meeting its NEPA obligations, the FAA should seek to achieve the policy objectives of 40 CFR § 1500.2 to the fullest extent possible. The FAA must integrate NEPA and other environmental reviews and consultations into agency planning processes as early as possible.

Environmental issues should be identified and considered early in a proposed action's planning process to ensure efficient, timely, and effective environmental review. Initiating the appropriate level of environmental review at the earliest possible time facilitates the NEPA process. Specific FAA actions subject to NEPA review can include, but are not limited to, grants, loans, contracts, leases, construction and installation actions, procedural actions, research activities, rulemaking and regulatory actions, certifications, licensing, permits, plans submitted to the FAA that require the FAA's approval, and legislation proposed by the FAA.

How do I get my house sound insulated?

Answer:The process for sound insulation begins with your local airport conducting a Part 150 Study (also referred to as Airport Noise Compatibility Planning). This Part 150 Study then generates a noise contour map that identifies the homes that fall within the 65 or greater DNL (Day-Night Average Sound Level). These homes are the ones that will be considered for sound insulation.

Please contact your local airport to find out the status of a Part 150 Report for you community.

To search for airports around your specific location, use the FAA Airport Mapping Application: https://aviationsafety.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7a73b093aec04738b1242df960f17b7d.

Or visit the FAA's Office of Airports:
https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arp/.

To find out more about The FAA Airport Noise Program and the Part 150 Study, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=18114.

Metroplex Program

What is a Metroplex?

Answer: A Metroplex is a geographic area covering several airports, serving major metropolitan areas and a diversity of aviation stakeholders such as National Airspace System users, FAA, and other lines of business and airport operators. Congestion, airport activity in close geographical proximity, and other limiting factors such as environmental constraints combine to reduce efficiency in busy metroplexes.

The FAA and aviation community experts analyze the operational challenges of metroplexes and explore airspace and procedures optimization opportunities.

To learn more about Metroplexes, visit: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/.

What is the FAA Metroplex Program?

Answer:In our efforts to modernize the NAS, the FAA identified several large urban centers with multiple airports and busy airspace and applied PBN (Performance Based Navigation) infrastructure to make that airspace safer, more efficient, and help with the flow of traffic across the National Airspace System (NAS).

This program was focused effort on a specific geographic areas and the airspace, airports and operations within those areas. The primary goal was to use Performance Based Navigation, or PBN to update airspace and procedures to assure safety and increase operational efficiency. By improving the flow in these Metroplex sites, we improved the flow of the entire National Airspace System.

Eleven locations were identified for this program. The most recent Metroplex Projects were implemented in Denver, CO (March 2020) and Las Vegas, NV (Feb 2021). The final Metroplex project in this initiative will be implemented in the South-Central Florida region in August 2021.

To learn more about the Metroplex Program, visit: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/.

How many Metroplex Projects did the FAA perform?

Answer:The FAA has completed implementation of 10 of 11 Metroplex sites. The 11th site, South-Central Florida is scheduled for implementation in August 2021.

Areas include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland-Detroit, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, North Texas, Northern California, South Central Florida, Southern California, and Washington D.C.

To learn more about mextroplexes, visit: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/.

How do I find a list of FAA Metroplex sites?

Answer:To find a list of Metroplex locations, visit: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/.

What is the South-Central Florida Metroplex Project?

Answer: The South-Central Florida Metroplex project was an initiative to improve the operational safety and efficiency of airspace in the South-Central Florida Metroplex area by using accurate, repeatable Performance Based Navigation to optimize aircraft arrival and departure procedures to and from the 21 airports in the Metroplex study as.

To learn more about the South-Central Florida Metroplex Project, visit:
https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/florida/.

FAA Community Engagement

What is community engagement?

Answer: Community Engagement is the FAA's initiative to inform and involve the public, engage with communities and give meaningful consideration to community concerns and views as the FAA makes aviation decisions.

To learn more about Community Engagement, visit: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/.

What is a community roundtable?

Answer: A "roundtable," in the aviation context, is generally a term for an organization designed to address community concerns over a sustained period of time regarding aircraft operations often associated with a nearby airport. Roundtables are typically made up of representatives from multiple communities around an airport, who are or may be affected by aircraft operations, and the airline industry and other stakeholders - often in an advisory role or on technical committees and working groups, who can offer additional perspectives and expertise.

A roundtable brings together airport, community, and airline industry representatives to collaboratively identify and discuss issues of concern and possible resolutions at the same time. It may elect to make recommendations, including possible changes in operations, which could address community noise or other concerns. Ideally, applicable recommendations are first coordinated through the airport who will then, as appropriate, forward them to the applicable entity (e.g., the FAA, airlines, or zoning authority).

To learn more about Roundtables, visit: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/media/FAA_Community_Roundtable_Info_Sheet.pdf.

How do I find out if my local airport has a Roundtable or Community Meeting?

Answer: There may be a variety of circumstances that result in a community meeting, including airspace changes, airport projects, and other situational changes that would require the FAA to meet with local communities to discuss issues surrounding an airport.

To find out if there is a regularly scheduled roundtable or Noise Advisory Committee meeting, please contact your local airport for more information or contact your Regional Ombudsman: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/noise_emissions/airport_aircraft_noise_issues/noise_ombudsman/.

To find out what about Community Engagement meetings and other happenings in your area, check out your region's Community Engagement webpage: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_engagement/.

In addition, please monitor our social media feeds and look for announcements in the press.

FAA Social Media:
Twitter - @FAANews
Facebook - Federal Aviation Administration
Instagram - FAA

What is the role of the Community Engagement Officer?

Answer: A Community Engagement Officer (CEO) is a position within the Regional Administrative Team that acts as the primary point of contact between local communities and the FAA and fulfills the role as the dedicated Regional Ombudsman for their area.

They inform and involve the public, engage with communities, and ensure the FAA gives meaningful consideration to community concerns and views as the FAA makes aviation decisions that affect the public. CEOs assist in carrying out public involvement activities for environmental related activities, such as impacts from noise, safety, and pollution.

What is the difference between a Community Engagement Officer and a Regional Ombudsman?

Answer: A CEO is a position within the Regional Administrative Team who fulfills the role as the dedicated Regional Ombudsman for their area.

The difference between the two titles is that one is a position (CEO) and the other is a designation (Regional Ombudsman).

The FAA could have designated another member of the Regional Administrator's team, but felt that the most appropriate individual was the CEO, as they have the closest connection to the discussions and meetings that involve the airports and the communities. As a member of a national and matrix team, the CEO has the unique ability to have vision into regional issues and concerns as well as national trends and projects. They have the appropriate line of sight and access to the RA to ensure awareness, coordination and communication.

Regional Administrators and Ombudsman

Who is the FAA Administrator?

Answer: Steve Dickson is the current FAA Administrator. He was confirmed for a five-year term by the US Senate in 2019.

To learn more about the FAA Administrator, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/key_officials/dickson/.

What is the structure of FAA leadership?

Answer: To see an organizational chart of all FAA key officials, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/key_officials/.

What is the role of the FAA Regional Administrator?

Answer: FAA Regional Administrators are the Senior FAA officials in each of the Agency's nine geographic areas in the U.S. These administrators ensure that FAA is providing consistent stakeholder support and engagement while partnering with Federal, state and local governments and others to promote Aviation Safety and STEM Education across the region.

To learn more about the Offices of the Regional Administrator, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arc/.

Who are the Regional Administrators?

Answer: Visit the Key Officials page for a list of Regional Administrators by area served: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arc/key_officials/.

What is the role of the FAA Ombudsman?

Answer: The Regional Ombudsman is a designated role that works with the Regional Administrator to ensure public inquires related to aviation noise, pollution, and safety are properly addressed.

Each Community Engagement Officer serve as the Regional Ombudsman for their specific region, as the role is concurrent with the community outreach responsibilities of the CEO.

The Regional Ombudsman:

  • Serves as a regional liaison with the public, including community groups, on issues regarding aircraft noise, pollution and safety.
  • Makes recommendations to the Regional Administrator for the region to address concerns raised by the public and improve the consideration of public comments in decision-making processes.
  • Is consulted on proposed changes in aircraft operations affecting the region, including arrival and departure routes, in order to minimize environmental impacts, including noise.

To contact the FAA Aviation Noise Ombudsman, please send an email to 9-awa-noiseombudsman@faa.gov.

In addition, to find the contact information for the Aviation Noise Ombudsman, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/noise_emissions/airport_aircraft_noise_issues/noise_ombudsman/.

What is the difference between a Community Engagement Officer and a Regional Ombudsman?

Answer: A CEO is a position within the Regional Administrator's Team who fulfills the role as the dedicated Regional Ombudsman for their region. FAA Reauthorization of 2018, requires the Regional Administrator for each region to designate an individual to be the Regional Ombudsman for the region.

The difference between the two titles is that one is a position (CEO) and the other is a designated role (Regional Ombudsman).

The FAA could have designated another member of the Regional Administrator's team however, it was determined that the most appropriate individual was the CEO, as they have the closest connection to the discussions and meetings that involve the airports and the communities. As a member of a national and matrix team, the CEO has the unique ability to have vision into regional issues and concerns as well as national trends and projects. They have the appropriate line of sight and access to the RA to ensure awareness, coordination and communication.

How do I contact the Regional Ombudsman for my area?

Answer: To locate a complete list of all Regional Ombudsman and their contact information, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/noise_emissions/airport_aircraft_noise_issues/noise_ombudsman/.

How do I report a safety concern?

Answer: To report a safety concern, please contact your area's Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

To locate your area's FSDO's contact information, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/.

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