DOT assesses national noise impact BEFORE SST rulemaking?

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FAA Initiating Rulemaking Activities For Civil Supersonic Aircraft

Taking Steps To Advance The Development Of Civilian Supersonic Airplanes[1]

In consecutive sections Congress tells FAA to reduce noise and to move SST (more noise)

National Noise Sensitivity is High and pending Noise Issues Important

DOT should exercise its coordinated national noise policy power

As part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) priority on innovation in transportation, the DOT and the FAA are taking steps to advance the development of civil supersonic aircraft.[2]

In line with this, the FAA is initiating two rulemaking activities on civil supersonic aircraft noise. The first activity is a proposed rule for noise certification of supersonic aircraft, and the second is a proposed rule to streamline and clarify the procedures to obtain special flight authorization for conducting supersonic flight-testing in the United States. The subsonic noise certification regulations of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 36 do not apply to supersonic aircraft. The current rulemaking activity related to noise certification of supersonic aircraft will determine the technological and economic basis that supports noise level requirements that are appropriate for supersonic aircraft.

There is support in Congress for the advancement of new supersonic aircraft. Section 181 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 specifies that the FAA administrator exercise leadership in the creation of federal and international policies, regulations, and standards relating to the certification and safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.


The two supersonic rulemaking activities would not rescind the prohibition of flight in excess of Mach 1 over land. At the same time, the FAA is working within the existing statutory and regulatory authority to consider the range of permissible supersonic operations. In addition, the FAA is assessing the current state of supersonic aircraft technology in terms of mitigating the noise impacts associated with supersonic overland flight. To this end, Section 181 also requires a biennial review of aircraft noise and performance data beginning on December 31, 2020 to determine whether to amend the current ban on supersonic flight by civil aircraft over land in the United States.

[emphasis added]

The cover of this post highlights the incredibly inconsistent actions of Congress when it enacted §§178 and 179 which mandated that the FAA attack existing aircraft—to try operational techniques to reduce noise and to establish a noise ombudsman for each region. MESSAGE: REDUCE NOISE






In the very next provision of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 ,§181, the wise men and women elected to convey the nation’s priorities to the FAA instructed it to become the world leader on rules for SST operations. While technology has been developed to the reduce noise generated by these supersonic aircraft, these planes are perceived not only as the noisiest, but also the worst Ozone-deteriorating vehicles. MESSAGE: MORE NOISE





As shown in the Appendix (below), noise is a highly subjective sensory response that correlates with the sensitivity of the person experiencing the event more than the objective engineering measurement of the energy. The phenomena of increasing perception of noise at airports has been recognized here:

Four Points For Aviation’s Consideration As The Noise Storm Rises

Stage 5 Is Coming, But Aviation Needs To Manage Expectations Of The Noise Reduction

Might Airport Neighbors Suffer From MISOPHONIA?

This community reaction to the NextGen induced noise has resulted in more political activism:

“Quiet Skies Caucus” Asks For Myopic 50% Reduction In DNL Standard

Quiet Skies Caucus Proposal Will Rend Asunder Years Of FAA Noise Policy Without Thoughtful Review

The FAA is in the midst of a Stage 5 review and Congress has requested analyses of NextGen’s concentrated flight paths. Under these circumstances ANY SST noise advancement might put these other delicate noise policy processes at risk.

The FAA has a technical Integrated Noise Model,  might it be time for the DOT/FAA to develop and Integrated Noise Policy. After all, the legislation which authorized the DOT instructed the multi-modal organization:


SEC. 2.

(b) (1) The Congress therefore finds that the establishment of a Department of Transportation is necessary in the public interest and to assure the coordinated, effective administration of the transportation programs of the Federal Government; to facilitate the development and improvement of coordinated transportation service, to be provided by private enterprise to the maximum extent feasible; to encourage cooperation of Federal, State, and local governments, carriers, labor, and other interested parties toward the achievement of national transportation objectives; to stimulate technological advances in transportation ; to provide general leadership in the identification and solution of transportation problems;





The DOT/FAA might consider whether it is wise to steam ahead to authorize SST operations at a time when commercial and personal use of aircraft is at risk due to increased national sensitivity to noise. The DOT’s raison d’être is to coordinate policy. Yes, Congress in §181 decided that FAA’s international leadership in SST policy, but is such an addition to the noise bubble likely to cost other aviation sectors to lose some degrees of operation.



Noise Assessment and Control: Paper ICA2016-92

Assessment of annoyance, noisiness and loudness caused by environmental noise sources

Nicolás Urquiza (a) (a) Tres de Febrero National University (UNTREF), Argentina,


Results indicated that the most annoying sound events had tonal characteristics and loudness was the only subjective attribute that showed good correlation with several objective acoustic descriptors. In addition, surveys confirmed that pairwise comparisons and verbal rating scale method have excellent correlation for the same subjective attribute. Finally, it was concluded that is necessary to perform subjective studies in order to complement the purely objective measurements when the existence of annoyance in a population exposed to noise is evaluated.

Finally, it was concluded that is necessary to perform subjective studies in order to complement the purely objective measurements when the existence of annoyance in a population exposed to noise is evaluated.



Tests are made on human capabilities to differentiate and to scale aircraft noise with regard to three psychological attributes encountered in social survey research on ambient noise. Observers in carefully designed laboratory situations were able to use and produce scales of loudness, noisiness, and annoyance for aircraft noise. In general, such noise was judged to be more annoying than noisy and more noisy than loud.

Scaling loudness, noisiness, and annoyance of aircraft noise

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 57, 930 (1975);


The capacity of man to differentiate and scale aircraft noise with regard to three psychological attributes frequently encountered in social survey research on ambient noise was tested. Calibrated scales for the attributes evolved from the two‐step psychological scaling procedure employed. It was demonstrated that observers in carefully designed laboratory situations are able to use and produce scales of loudness, noisiness, and annoyance for aircraft noise. The relationships between the attributes were satisfactorily described by linear functions. In general, aircraft noise was judged to be more annoying than noisy and more noisy than loud. For all three attributes, the psychophysical relationships were best described by power functions with dB(A)max as the physical measure (exponents 0.21–0.24).



KARIN ZIMMER AND WOLFGANG ELLERMEIER Institut fÏr Psychologie, UniversitÌt Regensburg, 93040 Regensburg, Germany Abstract


Individual noise sensitivity is a stable personality trait covering attitudes towards a wide range of environmental sounds. It is a major antecendent of noise annoyance reactions, and is assessed by obtaining responses to one or several rating-scale items. The psychometric properties of four German-language noise-sensitivity measures Ða translation of Weinstein’s (1978) noise-sensitivity scale, a newly developed questionnaire, and two single-item questions reflecting susceptibility to sounds and noise, respectively were evaluated, using a student sample of n= 213 persons. Reliability coe¤cients ranged from r= 070 for the rating of susceptibility to sounds to r= 092 for the newly constructed questionnaire. Construct validity was appraised by inter-correlating noise-sensitivity scores, and by relating noise-sensitivity scores to questionnaire measures of depression, stress, anger, and anxiety. The results indicate that, while the questionnaire measures satisfy established criteria for test evaluation, the one-item ratings do not. Further exploratory analyses on a subset of the sample found only weak relationships between self-report measures of noise sensitivity and objective performance decrements under noise. # 1999 Academic Press

Noise Sensitivity Rating of Individuals

George A. Luz, Luz Social and Environmental Associates, Baltimore, Maryland

People respond differently to different noise levels. Approximately 1 in 5 people are acutely sensitive to moderately loud noise disturbances. This article presents the Weinstein Noise Sensitivity Index as a method for determining noise sensitivity. People who are more sensitive to noise may want to research the noise levels of new neighborhoods before moving into them and seek out quiet dwelling places. In an effort to protect the citizenry from unhealthy community noise exposures, governments publish noise contour maps. In areas where land is undeveloped, these maps can serve as a basis for restrictive zoning. In areas where houses already exist, the maps can serve as a caveat emptor.

Given that only 20% of subjectively-reported noise annoyance is explained by the measurable sound,

1 how is that emptor to decide? Which personal and situational variables are relevant to the decision? Fields

2 working with social surveys, determined six such variables to be statistically robust. Four are pure attitudes (fear of danger from the noise source, noise prevention beliefs, beliefs about the importance of the noise source, and annoyance with non-noise impacts of the noise source). Another, isolation from sound in the home, belongs to the acoustical engineer. The sixth, general noise sensitivity, belongs to the psychologist.

[1] Curiously, an extremely similar article was published in May 2018. Both inspired by FAA press releases.

[2] Administrator (a). Elwell announced the rulemaking at the Paris Air Show.


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1 Comment on "DOT assesses national noise impact BEFORE SST rulemaking?"

  1. Sandy Murdock | June 18, 2019 at 11:04 am | Reply

    A very relevant article–

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