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Neighborhood Environmental Survey Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the FAA conduct the Neighborhood Environmental Survey?

As part of the FAA's ongoing efforts to address aircraft noise, the FAA conducted the survey to determine if there has been a change in the way people perceive aircraft noise and to help inform ongoing research and policy priorities.

Why is the FAA publishing the results of the 2017 survey now?

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed the FAA to report on the findings of the survey by October 2020. While later than anticipated, the FAA aimed for releasing as close to October 2020 as possible.

Have any changes been made to the FAA's noise policy based on the findings of the survey?

The FAA has begun considering how the results may influence policy, but an important first step is to seek public input on our research program and the findings of the Neighborhood Environmental Survey. We expect any changes to be iterative as we complete other research projects that can inform our policy direction, such as the ongoing research related to sleep disturbance and cardiovascular disease, among others.

What specific policy changes or actions is the FAA considering based on the survey results?

The FAA is seeking public and other stakeholder input on the scope and focus of the noise research program prior to making any determinations on implications from emerging research results.

It is important to keep in mind that any potential changes to the agency's noise policy will require a long-term, coordinated effort as changes to the FAA's policy impact other Executive Branch departments and agencies as well as airports, operators, and local governments. It will be important to be thoughtful and deliberate about any changes in order to fully understand cascading impacts of these potential changes.

It is also important to understand the FAA alone cannot address noise concerns by any given community. Airports, air carriers, local, state and federal government entities besides the FAA all have a role to play and they all manage policies that affect a community's experience with aircraft noise.

Is there a timeline for the FAA's review and final decision on any updates to the agency's noise policy?

Our immediate focus is on receiving and reviewing public comments, which will help inform areas of further investigation and developing next steps for the review.

How were the airports included in the survey selected?

We used a rigorous statistical process to identify a cross-section of airports to best represent the nation as a whole. The process used for this selection is described in detail in the report.

What are the 20 airports?

The list of airports as well as the process used to select the airports is included in the report.

How will these results affect ongoing environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act?

The survey results will not affect ongoing NEPA environmental reviews, as FAA is not proposing any immediate policy changes. Any future policy updates would include consideration of ongoing projects.

What is the FAA doing to address the survey's finding that people are more annoyed by aviation noise?

The findings from the Neighborhood Environmental Survey show that a higher percentage of people are reporting annoyance from aircraft noise exposure. These findings are critical to informing how the FAA must look to address aircraft noise concerns. These results must be taken in combination with the finding from FAA's other noise research programs, including efforts to understand the potential impacts to sleep and cardiovascular health; as well as combined with input from public and stakeholder comment.

FAA has taken a host of actions in recent years to meaningfully engage communities. For example, the agency has hired community engagement officers across each region to expand the reach of Regional Administrators into communities. We have worked with airport authorities and their noise officers to address legacy community noise concerns. The agency also consistently engages with airport roundtables to provide information and expertise on airspace procedures and other issues related to aircraft noise. Additionally, we review air traffic procedures across the country to seek opportunities to reduce aircraft noise while consistently maintaining the highest level of safety. In the area of research, we have added projects to our portfolio to study airspace management concepts to determine if there are options that can reduce noise impacts while maintaining the highest level of safety.

How accurate is the survey?

The survey was conducted using an internationally accepted design by a team of expert statisticians and subject matter experts, and the FAA stands behind the methodology and the results. Please note, however, that the FAA is inviting comment on all aspects of the survey.

When and where can I submit questions/comments?

The public comment period began on January 13, 2021 and has been extended to April 14, 2021. View the Federal Register first notice and read the comment extension notice, where you can provide your comments on the FAA's noise research program.

Will the FAA formally address comments and questions it receives during the comment period?

The FAA will review all of the comments received during the comment period and take them into account during our review.

How do the results of the Neighborhood Environmental Survey affect previous projects including large Metroplex projects and single site projects?

The results of the survey provide important information that the FAA will consider in reviewing existing noise policy, but they do not change current policy, and will not retroactively affect instrument flight procedures projects.

Will you re-evaluate any instrument flight procedures projects based on this information?

The results do not change current policy and will not retroactively affect instrument flight procedures projects.

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