Too Loud, Too Low, Too Frequent
Too Loud, Too Low, Too Frequent
Unacceptable Airplane Noise in Howard County
A joint statement concerning the BWI noise from:
Chris Yates, District 13 Delegate Candidate, Airport Zoning Appeals Board Member and Former Roundtable Vice-Chair
Lisa Kim , District 4 County Council Candidate
This is a synopsis of the BWI Roundtable’s efforts related to the aircraft noise that is affecting our area. Unfortunately, we may not see any meaningful remedy anytime soon. The Howard County areas affected are western Howard County, Columbia, Elkridge, Jessup, Hanover and Owen Brown. In March of 2017 the DC Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable Working Group (commonly labeled Roundtable) was convened at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for areas affected by airport noise due to the implementation of their new NextGEN Technology. It was an answer to the community to work with the FAA to resolve these new noise issues. Many areas around the country are hurting and suffering as Maryland is. The FAA’s goal is to utilize technology in order to streamline flight operations by using fewer flight paths, thus, increasing safety and optimizing fuel use for the airlines and in some cases allowing planes to fly at lower altitudes for longer periods. This allows the FAA to replace a number of air traffic controllers with software-driven technology. The Roundtable consists of members appointed by State Senators from the various affected areas; members representing Councilmembers from the various affected areas, as well as, members representing County Executives in the affected counties. After the roundtable convened, a Chair and Vice- Chair were chosen by a vote of all of the members. The Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) has the responsibility of the airport ground operations and the FAA has all air related responsibilities. What this means is that we have no real authority over the GPS-guided technology and its horrendous application creating areas where communities are suffering from high noise levels where none existed before. Prior to NextGen, flights came into BWI by many different flight paths directed by air traffic controllers. NextGen created a few super highways in the sky so there is much less dispersion of airplanes. There now exist these super highways into (arrivals) BWI and super highways out (departures). If you live under these super highways, you are experiencing very loud noise from around 5:00 in the morning to around 11:00 at night every day. Not only are you experiencing noise from the increased amount of planes but the planes are also flying lower than ever before. One resident testified that he had to move his bedroom to his basement just to get some sleep. The only reprieve is from 12am-5am. The Roundtable, the FAA, and the MAA have been meeting monthly since March of 2017. The Roundtable asked the FAA to revert back to the pre-NextGen flight paths and simply do a reset. The FAA says that is not an option as systems have been completely replaced across the country to work with the Next Generation software and technology. In August of 2017 a Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Implementation Working Group Process (known as the PBN Working Group) was convened by FAA with MAA serving as the community’s representative. The PBN Working Group was tasked with finding meaningful remedies for noise abatement within the NextGen environment. The Roundtable provided the FAA with documents and guidance in order to advise the PBN Working Group on what the community needs to correct the problem, basically to disperse aircraft on arrivals and departures and to fly at the highest safe altitude as possible. It was expected the PBN Working Group would hit the ground running and move to meaningful remedies in a timely fashion. During the monthly Roundtable meetings the FAA would come back and provide status updates and reports relating to the PBN Working Group advancements. It became clear the PBN Working Group was not aware of the material that the Roundtable provided. The PBN Working Group finished their efforts and was scheduled to present their findings and recommendations to the Roundtable at the April meeting. During this meeting, the FAA refused to take questions from community members in the audience. The PBN Working Group’s recommendations did not address any issues concerning arrivals, dispersion, or requests for higher altitudes. The report and recommendations addressed departures only by adding another super highway. Because the proposal is technical it was impossible for the Roundtable to decipher what this actually means in terms of noise reduction. Will it truly reduce noise, offer relief and be a benefit and a value to those suffering or not? The MAA is doing the analysis for the Roundtable and will break it down in laymen’s terms. The Roundtable is anticipating that the analysis will be presented by their July meeting. While the Roundtable was conducting their business, Maryland was advancing legal action against the FAA for their utter and total disregard for those affected by these super highways. The FAA had already deployed and implemented the Next Generation technology in other parts of the country and had knowledge of the increased and unacceptable noise levels. The Phoenix Airport filed suit and after 2 years won against the FAA for their increased noise levels there. It may take another 2 years to see what remedy the FAA will implement. The State of Maryland has hired the same Phoenix group to represent them here against the FAA. Even though Maryland hired the firm that has already beaten the FAA it is not clear what legal action will be pursued. The next step in our process will take place when the MAA provides its analysis to the Roundtable at their July meeting. If you are suffering and/or would like to have your voice heard about this issue heard please email BWINOISE@gmail.com.