Arlington County’s Comments to the FAA on the Review of Civil Aviation Noise Policy
On May 1, 2023, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a Request for comments seeking input on its review of four key considerations of its civil aviation noise policy, in the context of noise metrics and noise thresholds. The civil aviation noise policy sets forth how the FAA analyzes, explains, and publicly presents changes in noise exposure from aviation activity. The comment period for the request for comments ended on Sept. 29, 2023; view a copy of Arlington County’s comments.
Resolution Opposing Changes to the Perimeter Rule and Expanding Slots at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA)
At the Arlington County Board Meeting on June 13, 2023, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution in response to the proposed changes at the airport located in Arlington County. The Board sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation to express its deep opposition to efforts to change the slot and perimeter rules at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study Community Meeting #3
The third community meeting for the Arlington County / Montgomery County joint Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study for communities north of Reagan National Airport (DCA) was held virtually via Facebook LIVE on Monday, December 13, 2021. The study team provided a status update on the overall study, presented draft recommendations for departure procedures and addressed community comments and questions. Watch a recording of the conversation and review the presentation(PDF, 7MB).
Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study Recommendations for Arrivals Approved by MWAA DCA Community Working Group (CWG)
On July 22, 2021, the recommendations for arrivals north of the airport developed as part of the joint Arlington-Montgomery Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study were approved by the full CWG as Recommendation 22.
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Releases Report on Military Helicopter Noise Requested by Congressman Beyer
On July 23, 2021, the office of Rep. Don Beyer (VA-8) released a report from the DOD titled “Review and Assessment of Mitigation of Military Helicopter Noise.” The report, requested by Congressman Beyer in an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, summarizes the state of military helicopter noise in the National Capital Region (NCR) and provides recommendations to mitigate the effects of military helicopter noise in the NCR.
Link to press release
Link to full report
County Board Submits Comments to the FAA on the National Environmental Survey (NES)
The County Board’s April 13, 2021 comment letter to the FAA on the NES may be found here.
Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study Community Meeting #2: Meeting Materials and Reports Now Available
Meeting Materials and Reports from the April 5, 2021 Community Meeting Have Been Posted to the Study Website. A link to the archived meeting may be found at the Montgomery County Council website.
Kick-off Meeting: Airplane Noise Virtual Community Conversation & Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study
Led by Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, Board Member Matt de Ferranti, and Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson, this virtual conversation was the kick-off to the joint Arlington-Montgomery County Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study. Watch a recording of this virtual conversation on YouTube or view the slideshow presentation.
Airport Noise Mitigation Study
In May 2019, Arlington signed a contract with Montgomery County, Maryland to jointly fund a study that will identify, evaluate and propose important mitigations to reduce aviation noise impacts on Arlington residents, Montgomery residents and other communities north of Reagan Washington National Airport. Arlington issued a Request For Proposals for the study in October 2019 and expects to award the contract to a vendor in the first quarter of 2020. The contractor will provide elected officials, staff, and representatives of the DCA Community Working Group with technical resources to better understand the detailed nature of airspace management and possible alternatives, and assist with coordination among the surrounding jurisdictions, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the FAA. Each jurisdiction has pledged to contribute $125,000 to the study.
HOLTB Flight Procedure at Reagan National Airport (DCA)
The FAA comment period on the new north-bound departing flight procedure at DCA closed March 30, 2020. The Arlington County Board submitted comments strongly opposing the new procedure that went into effect on January 31, 2020. We thank all residents who submitted comments to the FAA about the impact the new flight procedure is having on Arlington. County staff will be reviewing all published documentation with the Board and the County Manager to inform the next steps and a future course of action.
Also in March, the County awarded a contract for an aircraft noise study, jointly funded by Arlington and Montgomery counties:
February 12, 2020, County Board Update to the Community on Flight Path Changes
Letter to the FAA on Flight Path Changes
On Nov. 4, 2019, the Arlington County Board sent a letter of opposition to the FAA regarding proposed changes to flight procedures at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The FAA and the United States Secret Service (USSS) presented the proposed changes to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) DCA Community Working Group on May 23, 2019. Read the full letter.
Tools For Residents Affected by Aircraft Noise
File a Noise Complaint
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which operates Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), funds and operates a noise monitoring system with 15 noise monitor locations in the communities surrounding DCA. While noise statistics and complaint information are not used as a basis for the environmental review of existing or planned operating procedures, they do serve a very important purpose in providing individual residents, neighborhoods, and communities with a direct venue to provide their feedback and comments on the community impact of airport operations. This is an incredibly important tool for the MWAA Community Working Group in identifying areas for further analysis and consideration.
File a noise complaint by completing the online noise complaint form or by visiting the DCA WebTrak page.
Follow the Work of the MWAA Community Working Group (CWG)
In the fall of 2015, MWAA established the Reagan National Airport Community Working Group. Comprised of two community representatives each from Arlington County, Wards 2,3, 6,7, and 8 in the District of Columbia, City of Alexandria, and Dranesville and Mount Vernon Supervisor Districts of Fairfax County, MWAA has tasked the group with identifying and recommending practical noise mitigation initiatives to the FAA by the summer of 2016. Mr. Ron Montague has been chosen by the Arlington County Board to serve as our community’s representatives in this important effort.
MWAA has established a webpage for the Group, which will provide regular updates, including meeting minutes and presentation materials.
Review Noise Reports and Data
MWAA compiles noise monitor information and complaint statistics into an annual report. Read the 2016 Report.
More detailed noise monitor data and reports, published monthly, can be found on the MWAA Noise Data Portal.
About Airport Noise in Arlington
Commercial airplane noise associated with Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) is increasingly impacting Arlington residents and residents throughout the National Capital Region. While Arlington County does not have any jurisdiction or authority to regulate aircraft operations at DCA, we understand that this has become a quality of life issue for some of our residents. The County Board will continue to forcefully advocate for reducing and mitigating the impact of aircraft noise on our community.
In doing so, we must work with our partners at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who control airport flight paths and the additional restrictions specific to National Airport, such as the slot and perimeter rules and the nighttime noise rule, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), who operates the airport.
Along with MWAA and the FAA, Arlington County has provided residents with information about the past, current and future operations at DCA; kept residents informed of efforts underway to refine arrival and departure procedures which may have a positive impact on noise, and provided residents with venues to express your opinion and ask questions directly to those responsible for the airspace and the airport.
Understanding Aircraft Noise
The following websites provide a wealth of information to help Arlington residents learn more about aircraft noise generally and noise from airport operations at DCA specifically:
• FAA Webpage on Airport Noise
• MWAA Webpage on Aircraft Noise
This webpage includes helpful information, such as:
• Noise abatement procedures specific to DCA
• Links to the Authority’s annual noise report
• Contact information for MWAA’s Noise Office for DCA
• Link to DCA WebTrak, a public portal that provides access to noise and flight track data and the opportunity to file a noise complaint or voice their concerns regarding individual flight operations
Helicopter Noise Complaints: The FAA is responsible for approving all low-flying helicopter flight paths. You can file a complaint about helicopter noise with the FAA’s Aviation Noise Ombudsman at 9-AWA-NoiseOmbudsman@faa.gov.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), whose district includes Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church, has been working with other representatives in the region on the problem of low-flying helicopters and how to mitigate their impact on residents. Call the Congressman’s District Office at 703-658-5404 to let him know how helicopters are impacting you, or visit his website to file an online complaint.
Helicopter Safety Complaints: If you believe that a helicopter is flying unsafely, the FAA Flight Standards District Office for Washington, DC at 703-230-7664. You can also submit comments through an online form. The FSDO does not deal with noise complaints. It is responsible for aviation safety and investigations of citizen complaints are undertaken to determine if the helicopter is being operated in accordance with aviation regulations. When registering a complaint with the FSDO, it is important to have as many pertinent facts as possible, including helicopter characteristics or identification, time and location of the event.
• Dec. 20, 2019 Aircraft Noise Update
• June 7, 2019 Sound, then fury: FAA surprises group with plans to change Reagan National flight paths
• June 6, 2019 Capital Region Members Announce GAO Study on Helicopter Noise in Washington Metro Area
• Sept. 12, 2016 Letter to the Federal Aviation Administration
• April 2016 Airport Noise Meeting MWAA Presentation
• Sept. 4, 2015 Letter to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
• Sept. 4, 2015 Letter to the Federal Aviation Administration
• Aug. 6, 2015 Letter from Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
• June 28, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting MWAA Presentation
• June 18, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting FAA Presentation
• June 18, 2015 Airport Noise Meeting Summary View a June 18, 2015 public forum on airport noise with Arlington County, MWAA and the FAA.