Five Congressmembers “require” DNL study, already in progress, but a different scope might create a better test

at tracks LGA, JFK
Share this article: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedin

Queens lawmakers say FAA will re-evaluate ‘outdated’ airplane noise measurement methods

   Demand for study which FAA may already be doing

Impact of NextGen RNP may need new metrics 

…Queens Congressmembers Grace Meng, Tom Suozzi, Joe Crowley, Greg Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries, who are each members of 
the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, announced the provision on April 2.

Under the DNL method, aircraft noise is measured on a scale that averages all community noise during a 24-hour period, 
with a tenfold penalty on noise that occurs during nighttime and early morning hours.

The system was the result of a transportation noise survey conducted in the 1970s. In 1981, the FAA established 
“DNL 65 decibels” as the guideline at which federal funding is available for soundproofing or other noise mitigation.

Instead of producing recommendations based on actual noise levels, lawmakers said, the current measuring method relies on modeling and 
simulations to determine “annoyance” levels. This system is antiquated, according to Meng, who represents areas including Bayside, FluDNL reviewshing 
and Elmhurst.

“The metric of 65 DNL has long been outdated and does not adequately measure the true impact of aircraft noise,” said Meng, founding member 
of the caucus. “That is why it’s time to for the FAA re-evaluate it.”



Queens is home to LaGuardia and JFK International Airports, two of the busiest in the country. 
In 2015, the FAA announced a multi-year effort to update scientific evidence on the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its
 effects on communities around airports.”
------------------------------------------------------

The existence of Aircraft Noise in the communities bordering LaGuardia and JFK Airports has been an issue for decades. With such an obviously political issue, it is not surprising that Representatives Meng, Suozzi, Crowley, Meeks and Jeffries have introduced language in the stopgap appropriations bill directing the FAA to study its DNL standard. As Ms.  Monteverdi aptly noted in the last sentence of the article, the FAA began such a study over 2 years ago.



The FAA website, Aircraft Noise Issues, has a very thorough explanation of the state of its research on the subject. The 2015 study mentioned in the article was described in this press release:

Press Release – FAA To Re-Evaluate Method for Measuring Effects of Aircraft Noise

 

For Immediate Release

May 7, 2015
Contact: Laura Brown
Phone: (202) 267-3883; Email: laura.j.brown@faa.gov

ted guidance and regulations, subject to interagency coordination, as well as public review and comment.

The Quiet Skies Coalition’s position on Noise is well stated:WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration 
(FAA) will soon begin work on the next step in a multi-year effort to update the scientific evidence on the relationship between aircraft noise 
exposure and its effects on communities around airports.

“The FAA is sensitive to public concerns about aircraft noise. We understand the interest in expediting this research, and we will complete this 
work as quickly as possible,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This Administration takes its responsibility to be responsive to communities’ 
concerns over air noise seriously. Our work is intended to give the public an opportunity to provide perspective and viewpoints on a very important 
issue.”

Beginning in the next two to three months, the FAA will contact residents around selected U.S. airports through mail and telephone to survey public 
perceptions of aviation noise throughout the course of a year. This will be the most comprehensive study using a single noise survey ever undertaken 
in the United States, polling communities surrounding 20 airports nationwide. To preserve the scientific integrity of the study, the FAA cannot disclose 
which communities will be polled.

The FAA obtained approval from the Office of Management and Budget last week to conduct the survey and hopes to finish gathering data by the end of 
2016. The agency will then analyze the results to determine whether to update its methods for determining exposure to noise.

The framework for this study was developed through the Airports Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), which is operated by the Transportation Research 
Board of the National Academies of Sciences. This methodology will be used to determine whether to change the FAA’s current approach, as well as 
consideration of compatible land uses and justification for federal expenditures for areas that are not compatible with airport noise.

Aircraft noise is currently measured on a scale that averages all community noise during a 24-hour period, with a ten-fold penalty on noise that 
occurs during night and early morning hours. The scientific underpinnings for this measurement, known as the Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL), 
were the result of social surveys of transportation noise in the 1970s.

In 1981, the FAA established DNL 65 decibels as the guideline at which federal funding is available for soundproofing or other noise mitigation. 
This method was reaffirmed in studies conducted during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

During the ensuing years, aircraft manufacturers incorporated technologies that resulted in dramatically quieter aircraft. However, residents 
around many of the largest U.S. airports have expressed concerns about aircraft noise associated with the continuing growth of the aviation industry. 
The FAA is taking an updated look at its approach for measuring noise as part of an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, including communities and 
leaders of a number of cities across the nation.

If changes are warranted, the FAA will propose revised policy  related guidance and regulations, subject to interagency coordination, as well as 
public review and comment.

The Quiet Skies Coalition’s position on Noise is well stated:


But it does not appear to expand its thinking outside of the box; here are some thoughts which may lead to a new standard which addresses the unusual noise impact of RNP and NextGen

→ What can be gleaned from looking at these noise patterns? There is both good news and bad news.

  • The environment on a macro basis is better off; because the generalized area of impact is significantly decreased.
  • There is also BAD NEWS on a micro basis; in that the precision of the RNP technology and implementation CONCENTRATES THE NOISE IN A SMALLER AREA. The residents in these areas may be experiencing substantial increases over their historic noise levels (+10 points on the scale equals a doubling of the loudness). Further, the RNP addition to the noise may not reach the FAA’s long standing threshold of 65 dBA; so the NEPA review may find that this change does not preclude the implementation. What sets the DNL “energy average” apart from a mathematical average is that for every increase of 10 dBA in a noise level, the energy is increased by a factor of 10. For example, an event of 70 dBA contains 10 times the energy of an event of 60 dBA or one hundred times the energy of an event of 50 dBA.

 

So the people living under these new HIGH TECH, GREENER flight patterns are told at the end of the FAA study that there will be “no significant impact,” a term of NEPA art, which certainly infuriate the affected citizens.

→ What has Congress conjured up to address this situation? The elected representatives have proposed reopening the ATC review process; see FAA Community Accountability Act of 2015 (FCAA). First, it should be noted that Congress recently reduced the review requirement for the FAA in implementing NextGen flight patterns (H.R.658 — 112th Congress (2011-2012), the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA)). There is little likelihood that there will be a different outcome under an enacted FCAA by

  • ordering the FAA to RECONSIDER its previous determination
  • under the FCAA rubric, the process would entail a comparison of the original efficient, safe architecture vs. an alternative designed without the necessary expertise
  • under the original NEPA standard,
  • adding an ombudsman,
  • placing the airport explicitly in the process and
  • little else.

What the Congress has failed to realize is that the average citizen noise group needs significant resources to do anything other than say NO to the FAA RNP proposal. They need more than a new process; they need technical expertise to offer acceptable options.

→ What is the FAA doing? In a March 27, 2015 letter from Administrator Huerta to a coalition of aviation associations, he announced an “ambitious project to update the scientific evidence of the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its impact on communities around airports in today’s context of quieter aircraft, but with more aircraft operations than in the 1980s and 1990s and heightened environment awareness.” The letter noted that the study was specifically in response to implementation of PBN tracks. The precise nature of the FAA studied was outlined in the Administrator’s letter:

The data from such a loosely defined and gathered study does not appear to determine the precise impacts of the RNP concentrated procedures and hardly seems to be compelling enough to justify any changes in the FAA’s historic standards. {Rather tellingly, the letter invites replies NOT to the FAA technical environmental staff, but its Congressional relations office.}

→ What needs to be done?

  • The predicted noise levels of select Environmental Assessments (perhaps Phoenix) need to be verified by actual noise measurements within the new PBN flight corridors to determine why the reaction to noise impact is so much greater than the predicted noise impact.
  • If the predicted noise impact is found to be accurate through physical noise measurements, then the threshold for significant impact needs to be evaluated and adjusted to account for factors such as aircraft operation frequency and differing community tolerance for noise.
  • As illustrated above the issue of frequency may not have a significant impact on the DNL value but certainly appears to be having an impact on community tolerance of noise. The current FAA threshold of significance (1.5 Db at 65 DNL and above) does not account for the significant increase in frequency that occurs under the new PBN corridors.

While this noise assessment may take longer than the FAA’s phone survey of citizen perceptions, the results of a technical review are FAR MORE LIKELY TO JUSTIFY A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN POLICY.

 

Another statement of this concept.

Quiet Skies, you might expand your scope



 

Share this article: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedin

Be the first to comment on "Five Congressmembers “require” DNL study, already in progress, but a different scope might create a better test"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.