Norton Writes to FAA About D.C. Fair Skies Coalition Petition Protesting Flight Paths Over D.C. Neighborhoods

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today thanked her constituents as she released a letter she wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding a petition submitted by the D.C. Fair Skies Coalition to the FAA protesting the shift of flight paths for planes departing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from a route over the Potomac River to instead over District of Columbia neighborhoods, creating unbearable noise. The D.C. Fair Skies Coalition is a group of citizen associations representing the District neighborhoods most affected by the new flight paths, with whom Norton has been working.

Norton has gotten significant provisions included in the recent House Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill to address continuous airplane noise as a result of new Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) flight paths. Last year, Norton held a standing-room only community airplane noise town hall with residents and officials from the FAA and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Following that meeting, Norton got MWAA to convene an airplane noise working group that includes D.C., Maryland and Virginia residents and airline officials to make recommendations to the FAA on flight paths. She believes the FAA will make an announcement of some changes soon, but she says she is disgusted and fed up because of complaints that the level of the noise has actually increased. Norton is a founding Member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, a congressional group attempting to nationalize the issue of airplane noise.

In her letter, Norton wrote, “I write to support my constituents in the D.C. Fair Skies Coalition who have filed a petition because they have been unable to receive relief after reaching out to the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As you know, my office has worked with MWAA and its Airplane Noise Working Group, and we recognize that the working group is making progress. However, my constituents have felt compelled to file a petition with FAA about continuing concern about the shifting of flight paths for planes departing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from over the Potomac River to over District of Columbia neighborhoods, including Georgetown, Burleith, Foggy Bottom, Foxhall, Colony Hill, and Palisades in Wards 2 and 3, creating unbearable noise. Amazingly, residents report that airplane noise is actually starting to intensify in other parts of the city, including the Bellevue neighborhood of Ward 8.”

Norton’s full letter is below.

Michael Huerta
Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20591

Carmine Gallo
Eastern Region Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
1 Aviation Plaza
Jamaica, NY 11434

Dear Administrator Huerta and Eastern Region Administrator Gallo:

I write to support my constituents in the D.C. Fair Skies Coalition who have filed a petition because they have been unable to receive relief after reaching out to the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As you know, my office has worked with MWAA and its Airplane Noise Working Group, and we recognize that the working group is making progress. However, my constituents have felt compelled to file a petition with FAA about continuing concern about the shifting of flight paths for planes departing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from over the Potomac River to over District of Columbia neighborhoods, including Georgetown, Burleith, Foggy Bottom, Foxhall, Colony Hill, and Palisades in Wards 2 and 3, creating unbearable noise. Amazingly, residents report that airplane noise is actually starting to intensify in other parts of the city, including the Bellevue neighborhood of Ward 8.

Even after I filed an amendment to ban scheduled flights between midnight and 6:00 a.m. that failed for technical reasons, constituents report more late night and early morning flights, with some departing as early as 4:55 a.m. However, I was successful this year in getting a provision in the House FAA reauthorization bill requiring the FAA to conduct a review of aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports, including a review of FAA’s community involvement practices for NextGen projects located in metroplexes. I have also been working with my congressional colleagues to address this issue, which is plaguing communities across the country. We have now formed a Quiet Skies Caucus to further nationalize this issue. These flights pose real risk to our community here and across the nation.

I appreciate that last year, FAA and MWAA officials attended a standing-room only community meeting where D.C. residents raised their concerns directly with the two agencies. Yet today, many residents feel it is almost as if our community meeting never occurred, and as if FAA has not been listening.

At the moment, I can only hope that improvements occur after an announcement I am told FAA will soon be making about potential new departure flight procedures. We will await FAA’s announcement before taking further action.

The D.C. Fair Skies Coalition, which includes the civic associations representing Ward 2 and Ward 3 neighborhoods and Georgetown University, has filed an administrative petition with the FAA. I ask that you please give full and fair consideration to their request consistent with applicable law, rules, and regulations.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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