As discussed before, the perception of noise by people on the ground is highly subjective. The matching of complaints with the tracking of operations is a useful exercise in addressing noise problems. The below-linked article chronicles the efforts of the FAA, helicopter operators and the neighborhood groups in the Los Angeles area to capture relevant data through a computerized system.
The FAA issued a contract with Brüel & Kjaer, which already manages flight-tracking systems for several local airports to improve the information available to all stakeholders. The Automated Complaint System will capture where a complaint was registered and try to match it with a specific helicopter flight.
The data will be used to educate pilots about the impact of their speed, altitude and track on the neighborhoods. This feedback has proved in the past to be an effective method to reduce the noise footprints in sensitive areas. A second pedantic application could involve a “teaching opportunity” showing the citizens the actual noise measured by an objective instrument. Finally, the plotting of valid noise complaints can provide the FAA with input as to how the preferred routings might be realigned.
The FAA’s proactive approach to engage the community as a partner to better understand the near real time noise environment on the ground is critical to bridging the gap between legacy noise management methods based on computer modeling of forecast scenarios and the actual noise environment.
As with any regulatory environment, policy always lags advances in technology. If the results of this experiment are positive, FAA should share the lessons learned here with other FAA airport offices. On a broader level, the results from this system portend to have great potential to influence the future of noise management regulation.