Congressional FAA political appointment letter- require NextGen noise resolution skills

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Congresswomen Bass and Norton write President Biden

Ask that FAA political appointees with noise problem-solving skills

There are only seven such positions there- wrong level and not enough


Congresswomen Bass and Norton have sent a letter to the President-elect Biden (with a cc to Secretary nominee Buttigieg) urging that in filling the political positions that strong consideration[1] for the candidates aptitude for officials who will use creative approaches to solve noise problems from aircraft.Assuming that there are search criteria which can capture the Bass-Norton target talent and assuming that such competent Democrats can also meet the requirements  for the seven FAA political appointment positions, that cadre of 5-6 people would not be able to address the noise issues at all of the noise sensitive airports.

FAA political organization

Aviation Noise is a complex and highly localized issue. Those, who designed, sold, and implemented the NextGen Airtraffic technology, foresaw  great  macro environmental benefits (more direct routes = less fuel, enhanced descent profiles = less noise and fuel, etc.), They also focused on critical safety benefits. Their projections did not anticipate the micro impact of flights flying more precise ATC routes resulting in greater concentration of these flights’ impacts on the ground (NextGen Noise: RNP’s Concentrated IMPACT May Justify Substantive Change In FAA Policies Under A Proper Study).

noise contours


 Speaker O’Neill, who lived near Boston Logan Airport, explained that all politics is local”; so too, all air traffic route architecture must be local in design. Implementing a NextGen ATC track requires an optimization of safety, efficiency, and the environment. Straight lines, constant rates of climb and descent, and the capabilities of a varied fleet of aircraft are the initial drafting goals. Some of those guides add to environmental benefits. The definition of these parameters is HIGHLY technical and frequently require multi-iterations of the models to get the safety and environment aspects right.

noise and flight patterns

As witnessed by reactions to the NextGen Implementation and the concentration of impacts under these flight paths, the local sensitive points need be identified BEFORE the FAA spends hours of computer analyses. Thus, Speaker’s aphorism should be the guide for future NextGen implementations both ab initio and revision assignments.

As a matter of public policy and FAA governance, the Bass/Norton charge cannot be accomplished by the agency’s political seven. They CAN set broad parameters for the air traffic, safety and environmental staff working on these projects. But the most essential element, knowledge of local sensitivities cannot be discerned from Headquarters. Further, the true micro process requires an expert advocate to work for the neighbors in “negotiating” with the federal employees.

dca noise contours


Additionally, the FAA has several research and rulemaking projects pending. The Members, their staffs, the National coalition, and the local chapter should be aware of them and be prepared to submit thoughtful, quantitative submissions.




sensitive spots











capitol take-off


Norton, Bass Lead Letter to President-Elect Biden on Combating Aircraft Noise

Dec 31, 2020 

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus[2], and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) led a letter this week urging President-elect Joe Biden to appoint Federal Aviation Administration officials who will use creative approaches to solve noise problems from aircraft.

Quiet Skies Caucus

Norton has long led the effort in the House to combat airplane and helicopter noise in the nation’s capital and across the country. Norton’s community meetings on airplane and helicopter noise and residents’ stories of interrupted sleep patterns, homes shaking and difficulty having conversations have guided Norton’s efforts to quell airplane and helicopter noise.

“The disruption to human health and local economies by aircraft noise has long been overlooked or altogether ignored by the FAA,” said Congresswoman Bass. “I urge the Biden administration to appoint FAA officials who will finally address this issue that has plagued many of my constituents.”

The letter was also signed by Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Congressman Ed Case (D-HI), Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA).

The full text is below.

HR letterhead


Washington, D.C. 20515


December 28, 2020


The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

President-elect of the United States

Office of the Biden-Harris Transition

Washington, DC 20500


Dear President-elect Biden:

You will soon name several new appointees to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including the Deputy FAA Administrator, the Chief Operating Officer of the Air Traffic Organization[3][stet], the Associate Administrator for Airports, and the Assistant Administrator for Policy, International Affairs, and Environment.  While the FAA and the aviation industry face many high-profile challenges, as Members of the Quiet Skies Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, we write to bring to your attention the overlooked problem of the disruption to human health and local economies from aircraft noise.  We urge you to appoint officials who will include creative approaches to solving noise problems in the work ahead.

We represent Americans from diverse locales across the country, united by grave concern over the toll that noise can take on the people living with a constant drone of aircraft.  Planes fly low or late at night, near homes and schools; flights arrive and depart within minutes of each other; and the FAA’s NextGen project has concentrated flight paths without consideration of the people below.  As a result of these policies, millions of Americans suffer from sleep disruption; exacerbation of high blood pressure and other chronic diseases; learning loss in schools; and economic losses to businesses ranging from tourism to technology to entertainment.

For decades the agency has consistently downplayed and overlooked the toll of noise disruption on human lives and communities.  The NextGen project to update the technology used to control air traffic has brought foreseeable problems that could have been headed off if the agency, early in its planning stages, had considered what happens on the ground as well as what happens in the skies and included in the process business owners, local elected officials, airport noise roundtables, health advocates, and others likely to be affected.

As Members of Congress, we all fly as part of our work.  We agree that the FAA’s mission to maintain the safety and efficiency of our airspace is paramount.  But we also believe that better noise control and full participation from all involved and affected can only enhance that safety and efficiency, not detract from it.  The new appointees at the FAA should be committed to inventive problem-solving, to listening and bringing all affected parties into the discussion, and to finding win-win solutions.  These leaders should embrace bold ideas, work in good faith with the Quiet Skies Caucus and Congress, and pledge to alleviate noise disruption on the ground, with a renewed focus on inclusiveness.

We look forward to learning of your choices for the FAA and to working with your administration in the 117th Congress to combat aircraft noise.  Thank you for your leadership, and congratulations on your presidency.




Karen Bass                                                            Eleanor Holmes Norton

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress


/s/                                                                          /s/

Donald S. Beyer Jr.                                               Ed Case

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress


/s/                                                                          /s/

Judy Chu                                                               Ro Khanna

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress


/s/                                                                          /s/

Ted W. Lieu                                                          Alan Lowenthal

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress


/s/                                                                          /s/

Stephen Lynch                                                      Gregory W. Meeks

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress


/s/                                                                          /s/

Grace Meng                                                          Mike Quigley

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress


/s/                                                                          /s/

Jamie Raskin                                                         Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress


/s/                                                                          /s/

Adam Smith                                                          Jackie Speier

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress



Thomas R. Suozzi

Member of Congress


Cc: Pete Buttigieg, Nominee for Secretary of Transportation

[1] Here is a useful guide for assessing such appointments


[2] Note: there is both the Congressional QS Caucus and a private peoples QS Coalition.

[3] This position is NOT a presidential appointment Teri L. Bristol – Chief Operating Officer, Air Traffic Organization (


ATC tracks


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