Appendix 9. Noise Policy for Management of Airspace Over Federally Managed Lands



The FAA shares the national concern for the preservation of the natural environment. A critical objective in the FAA Strategic Plan is to provide leadership in mitigating the environmental impact of aviation. It is the policy of the FAA in its management of the navigable airspace over locations in national parks and other federally managed areas with unique noise-sensitive values to exercise leadership in achieving an appropriate balance between efficiency, technological practicability, and environmental concerns, while maintaining the highest level of safety. This policy envisions joint efforts between the FAA and the Federal agencies managing these locations to enhance the compatibility between management of the airspace and the management goals of these agencies.

The National Park System and other natural resource management areas under Federal jurisdiction include many locations with unique values which merit special environmental protection. Some areas provide opportunities for solitude and natural quiet and allow visitors to experience nature unaffected by civilization. Some provide opportunities for people to visit historically authentic settings, as they existed before the introduction of mechanized power. Others contain designated wilderness, critical habitat for endangered species, or solemnity of purpose, which would be diminished by the intrusion of noise. While aircraft noise is not the only noise or environmental impact that may be incompatible with areas having such unique values, this is the area of FAA's special expertise and jurisdiction.

In order to carry out the policy effectively, FAA staff and management will-

  • Promote public participation to increase understanding and gain the cooperation of concerned parties when assessing noise impacts on designated locations in federally managed areas. An appropriate public process will be designated for each assessment to identify the stakeholders and provide for their effective participation.

  • Communicate this policy to all stakeholders clearly. Educational information will be developed and disseminated to airspace users and other stakeholders, and appropriate advisories will be issued to minimize overflight activity and noise over particularly sensitive locations. A measured and balanced approach to the need for protective measures over specific unique locations will be taken in consultation with Federal agencies administering these areas.

  • Consult actively with other Federal agencies to identify and mitigate appropriately aircraft noise levels that are not compatible with designated locations in federally managed areas. Such consultation will ensure that any resulting mitigation strategies will not transfer impacts to other noise-sensitive locations within or beyond the federally managed area. The FAA will evaluate appropriate airspace management options in consultation with the Federal agencies administering these resources to identify particular locations of concern on a priority basis. Such evaluation of alternatives will ensure that safety is not derogated and that technological and economic factors are weighed consistent with the FAA's responsibilities under 49 USC §§40101-46507 (former Federal Aviation Act).

  • Develop or refine on a continuing basis methods and criteria to assess aircraft noise on designated locations in federally managed areas, in conjunction with the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise (FICAN). Recognizing the lack of complete information and agreement on noise methodology, metrics, noise effects on animals, and appropriate land use compatibility criteria for uniquely quiet areas, the FAA in conjunction with the FICAN will continue to develop, refine, and reach more effectively aircraft noise impacts on unique national land and water resources.

  • Train FAA airspace management personnel on effective airspace design techniques for mitigation of adverse aviation impacts on designated locations in federally managed areas.

This policy statement and the underlying actions are consistent with the goals of environmental responsibility and communication in the FAA's Strategic Plan, which state that FAA will:

  • Provide strong leadership regarding the environmental impacts of aviation and commercial space transportation.

  • Establish and maintain lines of communication with the public and with employees to promote understanding, awareness, and cooperation and to serve the interests of the traveling public.

Signed by

David Hinson


Dated November 8, 1996