The FAA Airport Noise Program
The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry to continue to reduce aircraft noise. The number of people exposed to significant airport noise in the United States has decreased from 7 million people in 1975 to approximately 309,000 people in 2012.
The FAA actively supports a number of initiatives that have helped reduce the number of people exposed to significant aviation noise. Some of these initiatives include improving aircraft engine and airframe technology to 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.
Airports may collaboratively address noise near airports by using a voluntary program called Airport Noise Compatibility Planning or Part 150. The program is known as Part 150 because the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979 created the program under 14 CFR Part 150. The program began in 1981. It provides a structured approach for airport operators, airlines, pilots, neighboring communities, and the FAA to work together to reduce the number of people who live in significantly noise-impacted areas. Operators of public use airports, including heliports, are eligible to participate.
Through the Part 150 process, airport operators may consider a variety of different strategies to reduce noise. Changes in operational procedures such as take-offs or landings or routing flight paths over less noise sensitive areas can lower noise levels. Airports also may choose to purchase land near airports to maintain compatible land use or provide sound insulation for homes, schools and other buildings near the airport that meet the required standards.
Currently 275 airports have entered into this voluntary program since its beginning. Of the original 275 participants, 134 have updated their plans and other airport operators are working on updates.
How It Works
A Part 150 Program has two parts. The first step is to develop noise exposure maps that identify the compatible and non-compatible land uses around the airport. The maps help communities understand the areas affected by different levels of noise in a consistent and scientific way. This enables better land-use planning and noise mitigation efforts in the second step of the Part 150 process, which leads to a Noise Compatibility Program (NCP). The NCP identifies specific measures to reduce incompatible land uses.
When the program identifies the compatible land uses such as industrial or commercial areas, large highways or water, the FAA can develop air traffic arrival or departure procedures that help reduce noise by routing flights over those less-populated, less noise-sensitive areas.
The airport operator may also provide sound insulation for homes, schools and places of worship that meet specific criteria or construct noise barriers such as concrete walls or earthen berms. In some cases where homes are severely affected by noise near the airport, the program may identify opportunities for an airport operator to purchase property to convert to more compatible land uses. It can also identify areas where the airport operator can work with local officials to ensure zoning policies are in place to ensure compatible land use near the airport.
Airports that participate in the Part 150 program are eligible to receive AIP funds to help with noise mitigation for non-compatible land uses and sound insulation.
The noise exposure maps developed in the first part of the Part 150 process help identify neighborhoods in which buildings are eligible for sound insulation because of the outside noise levels. However, a building also must have a specific interior noise level to meet the eligibility requirements for sound insulation and must be the type of construction that can successfully be sound-insulated. Not all homes or schools near an airport are eligible for sound insulation.
The FAA can provide Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant funding for an airport operator’s Part 150 sound insulation program. The grant program requires a local match from the airport or other grant recipient, and has a number of other federal requirements. Airports also can seek FAA approval to use Passenger Facility Charge revenues for noise mitigation, including funding for the local share of AIP grants. Airports may also use airport revenue for noise mitigation in noise-impacted areas.
The Part 150 program requires that members of the public have an opportunity for active and direct participation in the process through public meetings and hearings, and to provide comments in response to required public notices including local newspapers and Federal Register notices. The Part 150 program also provides opportunities for people living in noise impacted areas to participate on technical committees and general committees.
Airport operators do not have to use the Part 150 program to reduce noise. Many airports have established highly successful noise abatement or mitigation programs outside of the Part 150 process, by working proactively with neighboring communities and user groups to address the same objectives. In some cases, airport operators simply prefer to work more directly with the various stakeholders without relying upon a federal regulatory process.
You may access both the program and regulation by going to http://www.faa.gov/airports/environmental/airport_noise/