Information & Research

Information and resources on the impacts of airplane noise and pollution, community responses across the U.S. to NextGen implementation, and other related issues can be found under the topics listed below:


1)  Reagan National Community Noise Working Group:
  
-For the most recent Presentations made to the Working Group and for additional information regarding Working Group meetings & minutes, please go to this link: Reagan National Community Noise Working Group
.
 
-MONTHLY NOISE WORKING GROUP MEETINGS (OPEN TO THE PUBLIC):  
The public is welcome to attend the monthly 
Reagan National Community Noise Working Group meetings.  Seating is available to the public.  
-Information about upcoming Working Group Meeting dates, times, and agendas is available here: Reagan National Community Noise Working Group
.
-Directions on how to get to the NWG Meetings:
-Metro Accessible: National Airport Metro Station on the BLUE and YELLOW lines.  
-Driving Directions: Follow signs to Garage A Parking.  Use pedestrian tunnel from Garage A to Terminal A.  Signs in the pedestrian tunnel will provide direction to Terminal A - Historic Lobby Conference Center.  
-Conference Center is also readily accessible from Terminal A traffic circle.
   
-Selected information presented at prior Reagan National Community Noise Working Group Meetings is provided here:  Selected Presentations to the Working Group on Procedures Affecting Montgomery County.


2)  Dangerous, Harmful Human Health Effects of Airplane Traffic Over Communities (for example, airplane noise, airplane emissions such as pollution, gases, toxins, particulates, and debris):


  • Excerpt from the article: High levels of potentially harmful exhaust particles from jets using Los Angeles International Airport have been detected in a broad swath of densely populated communities up to 10 miles east of the runways, [according to a new air quality study by the USC School of Medicine].  
  • The research, believed to be the most comprehensive of its type, found that takeoffs and landings at LAX are a major source of ultrafine particles.  They are being emitted over a larger area than previously thought, the study states, and in amounts about equal in magnitude to those from a large portion of the county's freeways.  
  • It further concludes that areas affected by aircraft exhaust at major airports in the U.S. and other parts of the world might have been seriously underestimated.  Building on earlier air quality studies, environmental and preventive medicine experts from USC and the University of Washington found concentrations of the wind-driven particles over a 23-square-mile area [...].
  • The findings raise health concerns, researchers say, because the minute particles, which result from the condensation of hot exhaust vapor from cars, diesel trucks and aircraft, have the potential to aggravate heart and lung conditions, including asthma and the development of blocked arteries.
  • Less than one-thousandth the width of a human hair, they can go deep in the lungs, make their way into the bloodstream and spread to the brain, heart and other critical organs. While emissions of slightly larger exhaust particles are regulated, ultrafines are not.
  • In addition to ultrafine particles, researchers detected similarly high levels of other emissions, including smog-forming gases called nitrogen oxides and black carbon, a major component of soot found in engine exhaust.


  • Excerpt from the article: Airplane air pollution — the ultrafine sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other toxic particles that are created from the condensation of the jet’s hot exhaust vapors — is a health concern. The particles can embed themselves deep inside the lungs and then enter the bloodstream. The inflammation they cause is suspected of worsening many lung conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and of contributing to the development of heart disease.

-Global, regional and local health impacts of civil aviation emissions (Environmental Research Letters, Feb. 26, 2015) ("The MIT Study")


  • Excerpt from the article: A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has estimated that long term exposure to aviation related ozone and fine particulates (specifically PM2.5, the smallest particles) contributes to 16,000 premature deaths a year worldwide, costing an estimated $21 billion a year.  [...]  [E]missions from the landing and take off aircraft cycle, were found to have significant pollution related health impacts for communities living closest to airports, contributing to 49% of the premature deaths associated with aircraft emissions [...].  This study highlights that aviation related emissions of particulates and ozone contribute to poor health, and not just for those people living close to the airport. This should be considered in the health impact assessment and economic assessment of any [...] proposal.

-
Toxic air pollution particles found in human brains (The Guardian, Sept. 5, 2016)





  • Excerpt from the article: An air quality study has for the first time detected nano-sized particles of air pollution in children’s urine. With a diameter of just 100 nanometers - a thousandth of the width of a human hair - these ultrafine particles are the smallest particles found in air pollution and have been linked to heart disease and respiratory conditions in previous studies.  [...]  'It shows that the smallest particles really pass the lung barrier and if you find them in urine it means that they come into the blood circulation and go into every organ system,’ [...].





  • Excerpt from the article:  [Queens, NY resident] said the incessant aircraft noise is killing him and now a new study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, says the sound of blaring jet engines could actually shorten his lifespan.  “This is the year of healthy life that’s being lost on average,” Dr. Peter Muennig said.  Muennig, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, led the study. It looks at the flight path known as “Tennis Climb.”  The route goes over northeast Queens, and was originally used only during the US Open so aircraft noise wouldn’t disrupt matches.  But in 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration, after analyzing GPS data, decided to make it a year-round route in order to improve air traffic.  
  • But Muennig said by reviewing other studies on the affect of aircraft noise, his study found the Tennis Climb route could cause serious health problems.  “Sometimes if they fly at night when people are trying to sleep, and it disrupts children studying, and just basically creates a lot of anxiety. And that anxiety translates into heart disease,” Muennig said.  The study has some local leaders calling for a flight path change.  “This is shocking and requires further study to reveal any additional impacts on human life,” state Sen. Tony Avella said in a statement. “That is why, in conjunction with Assemblyman [Edward] Braunstein, I am committing to obtaining additional state funding for the Mailman School of Public Health to expand this study.”

  • Excerpt from the article: "I think the most damaging and shocking is the fact that given the noise impact, the air pollution impact, the noise from the planes, you could lose one year off your life," Sen. Tony Avella said.
 

- Issues on Overutilization of DCA:
 
- Issues on underutilization of IAD:
- DCA Prior and Current flight paths and air traffic (amount, types of planes, frequency, etc):
- DCA Reports of safety concerns (e.g. near collisions):


4)  Nationwide NextGen Implementation and Community Responses Across the U.S., and Other Related Issues:

- National Picture:
  
-NextGenRelief: an educational resource and gathering place for citizens, reporters, regulators, Members of Congress and their staff, and community activist groups all over America dealing with the repercussions of the FAA’s NextGen program.

-Aviation Impact Reform: provides detailed, up-to-date data and analysis on NextGen issues and other aviation related topics.
 
-NextGen Noise: provides information, news, and multiple resources regarding NextGen issues across the country. 

-National Quiet Skies Coalition: provides a description of the U.S. Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, a listing of quiet skies community organizations across the country, a national petition, and NextGen related news and information. 

-Airport Noise Law: provides news about lawsuits and legal issues concerning airport noise, information about federal laws regarding airport and flight noise, and citations to articles on airport noise policy, health effects, measurement, etc.







- Community Organizations Across the Country Advocating for Change:
 
MARYLAND / WASHINGTON, DC AREA:

Washington, DC (DCA):

STATE OF MARYLAND Lawsuit Against the FAA:
-CLICK HERE for a copy of the State of Maryland's Opening Brief that was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit on January 16, 2019.
-The State of Maryland’s legal action challenges the FAA’s deeply flawed decision in 2015 to move and simultaneously consolidate multiple flight procedures for airplanes approaching DCA into a single flight path over Maryland’s citizens and resources. As stated in Maryland’s Reply Brief (copy below) that was filed on May 9, 2019, the FAA in altering and consolidating the flight paths “provided no public notice of its plan, performed no noise analysis, and did not evaluate the potential impacts to historic resources, parks, or recreational areas.”  The Reply Brief further notes that there is “no evidence that the FAA performed any environmental analysis” before altering the approach paths to DCA from the north. “The FAA has never issued a public decision document explaining why, when, or how it revised theapproach procedures,” the Reply Brief says. “Instead, the FAA published the revisions only on a technical website maintained by the FAA for pilots, airlines, and air traffic controllers.”
-CLICK HERE for a copy of the State of Maryland’s Reply Brief that was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit on May 9, 2019.
-On November 14, 2019, the State of Maryland gave oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.    
-See also the News tab and the Downloads and Templates tab (Lawsuit_MD folder) for the most recent news regarding the State of Maryland lawsuit.
 
-Some recent developments (see also the News tab tab for the most recent Coalition news):

-Montgomery Co. council leader: ‘Explore legal action’ over airplane noise (WTOP, March 29, 2017)

-Berliner Urges County To Consider Legal Action Against FAA Over Increased Airplane Noise (Bethesda Magazine, March 28, 2017)

-Raskin, Maryland Leaders Urge FAA to Measure Noise Impacts from Altered DCA Air Traffic Patterns (Congressman Jamie Raskin Press Release, May 8, 2017)

-Md. leaders take Reagan National airplane noise complaints to FAA (WTOP, May 9, 2017)

-Local Elected Officials Request FAA Undertake Airplane Noise Study (Bethesda Magazine, May 10, 2017)

-Maryland State Delegates Marc Korman, Susan Lee, William Frick, and Ariana Kelly Urge Legal Action Regarding DCA Flight Path Changes

-Maryland Governor’s Great Letter Demands FAA Revert to Ease NextGen Impacts (Aviation Impact Reform, May 13, 2017)

-Local Elected Officials Request the Federal Aviation Administration to Address Airplane Noise (Montgomery County Government, Office of Public Information, June 7, 2017)

-Montgomery County to Request Outside Counsel's Legal Advice on FAA's DCA Flight Path Changes Impacting the County (June 12, 2017)

-WHAG-TV News Story: "Montgomery County officials take first step in suing FAA" (June 16, 2017)

-Legislative Update: MCQSC Speaks Out on FAA Reauthorization Bills in Congress (June 28, 2017)

-Montgomery County Council on Track to Approve Funding to Hire Special Counsel to Investigate Flight Path Changes Issues (July 11, 2017)

-Fighting to Reduce Airplane Noise (Office of Council President Roger Berliner, The Berliner Brief, Aug. 2017)

-Anyone Listening? More voices heard over airplane noise along Potomac (Potomac Almanac, Aug. 29, 2017)

-Md. Gov. Hogan plans to sue FAA over air traffic noise (WTOP News, Sept. 12, 2017)

-New report says noise complaints are up at National, Dulles airports (Washington Post, Sept. 16, 2017)

-FAA cites over 40K complaints of plane noise from residents that live near local airports (WJLA ABC7 News, Sept. 18, 2017)

-Montgomery Co. residents ask council for solution to growing plane noise (WTOP News, April 13, 2018)

-Airplane pain: DC region fights the FAA (WTOP News, Aug. 20, 2018) - This WTOP News article includes video footage showing just a sample of the commercial jets and constant noise over MD neighborhoods, as well as interviews with impacted MD residents.

-Also, see the News tab for the most recent Coalition news.


Washington, DC (DCA): 

-The DC Fair Skies Coalition has pending legal actions against the FAA due to the NextGen flight path changes.  In August 2015, several communities along the Potomac River, along with Georgetown University, retained counsel and filed a Petition for Review of the new flight path with the DC Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The Petition seeks to suspend the new northern route (LAZIR) and to reinstate the prior flight path (National 328). 
-The DC Fair Skies Coalition also filed a formal Petition to the FAA on May 27, 2016 seeking expedited relief from the aircraft noise caused by this new route and other Reagan National Airport operations. The Petition was also signed by the DC Mayor, the Chairman of the DC City Council, DC City Council members Jack Evans (Ward 2) and Mary Cheh (Ward 3), and all At-Large City Council members. Click HERE to read the Petition and the Appendix containing declarations of residents.  

DC Lawsuit UPDATE:
-You can listen to the January 11, 2018 oral arguments and read the Citizens Assn of Georgetown's lawsuit timeline and related documents in the pending lawsuit, Citizens Assn of Georgetown v. FAA, that is currently before the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia CircuitDC Fair Skies Coalition and Citizens Association of Georgetown's DC Fair Skies

-The audio recording of the January 11, 2018 oral arguments is available to download from the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.  To download the oral arguments audio recording, please click HERE and scroll down to the audio recording that is listed under date 01/11/2018, file name "15-1285; Citizens Assn of Georgetown v. FAA; Judges: Henderson, Tatel, Edwards."

  • As you know, the FAA changed the departure flight path from National Airport in 2015 adversely impacting a large portion of Northwest DC with nearly constant loud aircraft noise. The Coalition promptly filed a Petition for Review in 2015 with the US Court for the DC Circuit upon learning of the change and hearing the noise increase it produced.   
  • On Tuesday, March 27th the Court rendered its opinion. Unfortunately, the Court did not reach the merits of the case and dismissed the Petition for Review as untimely. It did so despite the lack of notice to any elected DC Government Official and the efforts by the FAA to ensure no one in the community was aware of the plan to make the LAZIR route the flight path for all northbound departures. 
  • The Court found that two small notices posted in the back pages of the Washington Post of the intent to do an Environmental Assessment of the entire DC Metroplex and the fact that one had been completed were adequate notice of the proposed flight path. The only support for that decision is an old Supreme Court Clean Water case which sanctioned publication as a means of providing notice but did not state that it was sufficient to satisfy NEPA’s requirements that agencies make “diligent efforts to involve the public”. In this case, the FAA made diligent efforts to ensure no one in DC was aware of the new flight path until it was an accomplished fact.  
  • The Coalition will consider what, if any, steps need to be considered next, but requesting rehearing by the Court and pursuing our Administrative Petition with the FAA are being considered.
  • Click HERE for a copy of the Court's Opinion.  
Washington, DC (DCA):

Washington, DC (DCA):
-CAAN (Citizens for the Abatement of Aircraft Noise)  CAAN's principal mission is to reduce aircraft pollution in the Metropolitan Washington area by working to balance economic interests with the environment and human costs of air transportation.  This website provides useful historical and other information regarding the noise & pollution issues that continue to be faced today in the DC metro region. 

Baltimore, MD (BWI): 
-On February 9, 2017, Howard County Council authorized the Howard County Office of Law to institute legal proceedings against the FAA related to the implementation of NextGen air traffic noise from BWI.  For a copy of the Howard County legislation, please see the "Howard County Bill No. 8-2017.pdf" document under the Downloads and Templates tab.
  • Excerpt from the article: 70% of the flights in and out of BWI are operated by Southwest Airlines.  ABC2 News reached out to see if the company is actually saving any money under the new system. In a statement, a spokesperson says: "Based on our analysis we are not convinced these Metroplex procedures at BWI would provide much benefit, and it seems that is holding true. We are taking a fresh look at the data to better understand fuel savings to date."



-You can listen to the March 17, 2017 oral arguments and read the City of Phoenix's lawsuit timeline and related documents in the pending lawsuit, City of Phoenix, Arizona v. Michael Huerta and FAA, that is currently before the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia CircuitPHX Sky Harbor Aiport's Website regarding Legal Action on Flight Paths Issues

-The audio recording of the March 17, 2017 oral arguments is available to download from the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.  To download the oral arguments audio recording, please click HERE and scroll down to the audio recording that is listed under date 03/17/2017, file name "15-1158; City of Phoenix, Arizona v. Michael Huerta; Judges: Rogers, Griffith, Sentelle."

-U.S. Court of Appeals Rules Against FAA in Phoenix, August 29, 2017:  
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a Federal Aviation Administration order from Sept. 2014 that set new departing flight paths for Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport.  The Court agreed with the City of Phoenix and residents' arguments that the FAA's approval of the new paths was "arbitrary and capricious."

-For status updates on the City of Phoenix lawsuit against the FAA, please click here: https://www.skyharbor.com/FlightPaths

Scottsdale, AZ (PHX and Scottsdale Airport):


CALIFORNIA:

Los Angeles, CA (LAX):
-Culver City, CA: 
-On March 16, 2018, the City of Culver City, Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, and other impacted parties filed a federal lawsuit against the FAA regarding the FAA's Southern California NextGen Project.  The FAA's NextGen project will increase aircraft noise to over 8.6 million people around 21 different airports in Southern California.  The FAA's NextGen changes will also waste more fuel and emit more pollution.  The FAA has claimed that there is a "Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)" for the FAA's Southern California
Metroplex Project (SoCal Metroplex).  However, this March 2018 lawsuit seeks the federal court to review the FAA's findings.  For more information on this lawsuit, click here: Lawsuit against FAA SoCal NextGen  
-CLICK HERE for a copy of Culver City's Opening Brief.  This lawsuit, Benedict Hills Estates Association v. FAA, was filed on March 16, 2018 in the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
-On October 18, 2019, the Los Angeles City Attorney sent a 30-day "cease and desist" letter demanding the FAA revert to the "historic 
flight path".  The cease and desist letters were ignored by the FAA, expiring on November 18, 2019 without response from the FAA.  
-CLICK HERE for a copy of the Cease & Desist Letters that were sent by the Los Angeles City Attorney to the FAA on October 18, 2019.    
-On December 12, 2019, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit against the FAA in response to Burbank Airport’s new flight path, which sends departing planes “in a singular, repetitive departure track” at extremely low altitudes over new communities.  The city is also suing the FAA under the Freedom of Information Act to ascertain the reasons behind the flight path change.  L.A. City Attorney Michael Feuer stated that the "FAA has allowed this change in departure flight tracks with no public notice, public comment or proper environmental review. The southerly shift has caused a significant increase in airplane noise and traffic, and the lawsuit seeks judicial action to require FAA to order its air traffic controllers to direct aircraft to depart the airport using historic departure tracks" and that "we're urging the Court to order the FAA to return to previous flight patterns, and divulge information about Burbank Airport airplane traffic which the public has long been entitled to see."
-CLICK HERE for a copy of Los Angeles City's Petition for Review that was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on December 12, 2019.
-On February 26, 2020, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed a "Petition for Review of Actions by the FAA with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  This concerns LA's lawsuit over three NextGen RNAVs that the city claims were established without proper 
environmental review.  The petition makes specific mention of the FAA's inability to produce evidence of its justification for using a 
CATEX to bypass such review.  Quoting the petition: "FAA’s clear error warrants summary disposition of this petition. It is undisputed that FAA was required to, but did not, complete an environmental review of the Arrival Routes prior to making its decision."  
-CLICK HERE for a copy of Los Angeles and Culver City's Petition for Review that was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 26, 2020.


Burbank, CA, Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR):
and
Van Nuys Airport (VNY):
-North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Studio City, Valley Village, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Hollywood Hills, Laurel Canyon, Coldwater Canyon, Beverly Glen, Bel Air, and other areas in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley:
-YouTube Video: "Burbank Airport Noise Disturbs Residents" (Oct. 15, 2019)  Informative news segment in which Studio City, CA residents describe how noise from the Burbank Airport has increased tremendously in recent years.  Burbank Airport Noise Disturbs Residents (NBC4 News Los Angeles, Oct. 15, 2019)
"Short video featuring voices of LA residents affected by 2017 Metroplex / NextGen aircraft navigation changes at Van Nuys & Burbank Airports impacting 100,000+ residents, 20+ parks, 15+ schools in/near very high fire hazard Santa Monica Mountains (Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino, BHPO, Bel Air).  Airport flight path changes were made without legally required environmental clearances and adequate notice and comment.  Without public input and tests, FAA changed the directional flow & created low, concentrated departure & arrival paths.  Since 2012, tens of thousands of residents have been experiencing ill-effects of these illegal changes."  
Click on link above or click HERE to watch the video.  

Ontario, CA (ONT): 
-Lake Arrowhead, CA: 
-The threat of legal action, combined with public and political pressure, appears to have convinced the FAA to revert to a previous flight path.  See article:  FAA announces change to controversial flight path over Lake Arrowhead (ABC7 News, Nov. 9, 2019)

Orange County, CA, John Wayne Airport (SNA):
-Laguna Beach, CA; and Newport Beach, CA: 
-Click HERE for the lawsuit documents that have been filed by the City of Laguna Beach, the City of Newport Beach, and the County of Orange, CA against the FAA regarding the changed flight paths due to NextGen.

San Diego, CA (SAN): 

San Francisco, CA (SFO):
-Santa Cruz, CA: 
 
-Palo Alto, CA: 
 
-Los Altos Hills, CA: 


FLORIDA:

Orlando, FL (MCO):


MASSACHUSETTS:

Boston, MA (BOS):
-Milton and Greater Boston: 
 
-Boston west: 


NEW YORK:

New York, NY (LGA; JFK):
-Long Island: 
 
NORTH CAROLINA:


WASHINGTON STATE:

Burien/Seattle, WA (SEA): 
 
-Results of the City of Burien's lawsuit against the FAA regarding NextGen related flight path changes:
-CLICK HERE for a copy of the City of Burien’s brief that spells out the city’s position that was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on November 30, 2018.
-On October 23, 2019, the City of Burien made its oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  A core element 
of the City of Burien’s suit is its contention that, by circumventing a thorough environmental review, the establishment of a new flight path by the FAA was “arbitrary, capricious, and in violation of law”.   
-On November 27, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has handed down a decision in favor of the City of Burien, WA.  The court granted the petition by the city and has directed the FAA to go back to the drawing board and consider the potential cumulative impact of future operations.  Here is one significant passage from the court’s decision: "NEPA requires agencies such as the FAA to consider and document the environmental impacts of their actions prior to implementing them.  Although NEPA usually requires agencies to conduct some form of environmental analysis before they act, an agency may identify certain actions as “categorical exclusions” (“CATEXs”) that are exempt from environmental review. CATEXs are reserved for actions that do no
"individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment.”  While agencies promulgate their own rules for 
identifying and applying CATEXs, all agencies must “provide for certain extraordinary circumstances in which a normally excluded 
action may have a significant environmental impact” such that environmental review is required."
-CLICK HERE for a copy of the Court Opinion on the City of Burien Lawsuit that was announced by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on November 27, 2019.

 
-Steve Edmiston, who is an activist, attorney, and filmmaker, presents the real facts about NextGen to the Port of Seattle Commission:
 


Additional Community Organizations are listed here:  


CANADA:

Toronto, Ontario (YYZ):
-Toronto Aviation Noise Group (T.A.N.G.) is the community action group that addresses the increased airplane noise & pollution caused by NAV CANADA's changes in 2012 to the flight paths at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
 
-NAV CANADA is a privately run, not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates Canada's civil air navigation system (ANS).  NAV CANADA is the private company responsible for managing flight routes in Canada.  
-In February 2012, NAV CANADA shifted the Toronto Pearson International Airport's flight paths and condensed the flight traffic over smaller areas in greater metropolitan Toronto, thus causing significantly increased airplane noise and pollution problems for many Toronto neighborhoods.  
-NAV CANADA implemented these new, concentrated flight path patterns in 2012 at Pearson Airport with minimal consultation with the local communities or elected representatives.  As a result, numerous Toronto residents are currently living beneath these new flight patterns that are too low, too loud, and too often.
-This experience in Toronto with NAV CANADA's flight path changes is similar to the significantly increased airplane noise and pollution problems that are currently being experienced by multiple cities and neighborhoods across the U.S. due to the FAA's NextGen implementation. 
 


5)  Options to Reduce Airplane Noise and Revise Air Traffic Flow Out of DCA:
- Shift flights from DCA to IAD
- Night restrictions
- Increase angle of departure path
- Legislative proposals
- Legal action (lawsuits)
- Other options to be added
 
(MCQSC updates this "Information and Research" page on an ongoing basis as additional information becomes available.)