Solution for BWI’s noise conflict may require more than AIP noise insulation $$$

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FAA grants Glen Burnie $4,000,000 for sound proofing

Professor argues that “public health” should be criteria; how apply on Micro basis? Applied on Macro basis arguendo, close all airports?

Long term solution agreeable to neighbors = All Counties consensus on priorities


The Baltimore Sun published the below article about the FAA’s grant of $4,000.000 for noise insulations for houses in Glen Burnie, MD. The well-written report quotes extensively from assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s Dr. Zafar Zafari [1].  His MS in Mathematical Science demonstrates his statistical acumen to support his conclusions.  

He posits an analysis which assesses these two variables “You not only optimize your paths, you optimize the public health.” A useful point, but the actual quantitative/qualitative tool used by the FAA is statutorily mandated to examine more relevant factors—SAFETY, all aspects of the environment (noise, emissions, fuel burn, ground impact) and efficiency. This algorithm has a Zero Sum limit to its geographical options. Moving a track may reduce Glen Burnie’s impact at the same time, the new pattern will likely transfer the noise to Pasadena, hypothetically.

Some additional ATC background should explain the complexity of the task

NextGen phases chartAirport Noise has changed dramatically after the FAA’s national implementation of NextGen. A massive infrastructure investment designed to limit environmental impacts, add efficiency and improve safety. Using satellites, this system  generates tracks that are more precise and flexible than the old land-based radars. An unanticipated consequence of that precision was to narrow the flight path and at the same time concentrating the noise in this corridor.old and new tracks



Consider the quantification of these components of FAA design of departure and arrival patterns



efficiency has measurables associated with its evaluation;

emissions are subject to objective criteria

SAFETY now thanks to the SMS risk assessments can be given hard numbers

Noise Impact on the community has great subjectivity associated and sensitivity among the populace has heightened (misophonia) plus the FAA’s traditional metric may not reflect the impact of flight concentration.



The ATC airspace designers have the greatest difficulty assessing Dr. Zafari’s public health element. A case may be argued on a macro basis that these flights could affect the well being of all neighbors of all airports. The logical conclusion of such an assertion would be to shut down all of  the world’s airports. On a macro basic public health likely cannot guide ATC design decisions.

As has been found in past NextGen implementation assignments[2], the ATC has limited access to the existence of ground coordinates with greater or lesser noise sensitivity. For example, a community might prefer a track over a golf course over a school yard, a cemetery over a highway or some other choices of local significance. The surroundings of airports need to prioritize these preferences, particularly recognizing that an answer of “ALL” will maximize the FAA’s discretion.

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) should be commended for being sensitive to its citizens’ petitions for relief. It may be too late, but if possible, NEPA tactically and/or State politically, MDOT might assemble such a consensus rank order of priorities among all the counties which have surrounded BWI since 1950, work with someone that knows ATC architecture and offer to the FAA a fully vetted proposal and work for a Win/Win solution for the airport, the neighbors and the airlines


next gen tracks and noise


BWI Marshall Airport neighbors in Glen Burnie to receive $4 million in federal funds to mitigate airplane noise

Cassidy Jensen, Baltimore Sun –

BWI LandingResidents living near BWI Marshall Airport will receive $4 million in federal funding to mitigate the effects of jet noise, U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes announced Tuesday.

People living in more than 220 homes in Glen Burnie will be able to use the money, which comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal AviationGlen Burnie Administration Airport Improvement Program, to install insulation that muffles the sound of airplanes passing overhead.

Beginning in 2015, when the FAA implemented new flight patterns at BWI under the Next Generation Air Transportation System, some people living below the planes’ paths have complained of unrelenting noise.

The changes, which were meant to save airlines money and cut down on delays, led to airplanes flying closer above residences in Anne Arundel and Howard counties than they had previously.

Through the DC Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable, which acts as a liaison between communities and the FAA, residents have pushed for changes that would address noise pollution. A bill the group supported that would have created a commission to study the airport’s health impacts failed in the General Assembly this spring.

BWI Roundtable member and former chair Mary Reese was pleased about the newly announced mitigation funds but said the majority of Maryland residents who have raised concerns about BWI flight noise live farther from the airport itself.

“I’m very happy for anyone to get noise mitigation, but the amount of people impacted by NextGen, a good portion of them are located outside of Glen Burnie,” Reese said, including areas that historically had never dealt with commercial noise, unlike towns located next to BWI.

BWI noise

In 2021, BWI received more than half a million noise complaintsaccording to the Maryland Aviation Administration. The communities that have submitted the most out of the nearly 200,000 complaints made so far this year are Ellicott City, Columbia and Severn.

A shortcoming of home noise mitigation is that it only works while people are inside, Reese said. “If you want to have any outdoor enjoyment, open your windows, then that mitigation is not going to allow you to have peaceful enjoyment of your entire property,” she said.

Dr. ZafariDr. Zafar Zafari, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy,[1] has studied the health and economic impacts of aviation noise, which has been linked to health problems.

“The hard endpoints that have been mostly quantified have been cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease, anxiety, depression, sensitivity to noise,” Zafari said.

A long-term study[4] on BWI that Zafari expects to present to the Maryland Department of Transportation by the end of the summer models the long-term health and economic effects of plane noise, including potential productivity losses and higher insurance burdens.

Zafari also co-authored a 2017 study on the cost-effectiveness of installing sound insulation in homes to protect residents from aircraft noise. Using LaGuardia Airport in New York as a case study, the researchers found the cost of noise mitigation measures was well worth the health benefits.

While Zafari says he believes funding for noise mitigation is a good thing, he wonders whether alternative flight patterns might better address the root cause of noise complaints.

“The very first question is if there is a way to avoid the problem in the first place,” he said, by creating an air traffic system that takes into account public health outcomes. “You not only optimize your paths, you optimize the public health,” Zafari said.

©2022 Baltimore Sun. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



[2] For more information about these successful assignments, contact
877-532-2376 EMAIL US


[4] A sampling of 74 of Dr. Zafari’s publications: The Trade-Off between Optimizing Flight Patterns and Human Health: A Case Study of Aircraft Noise in Queens, NY, USA;A personalized biomedical risk assessment infographic for people who smoke with COPD: a qualitative study; External validation of lung function predictions in real-world cohorts of COPD; Prediction of treatment nonadherence among older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using Medicare real-world data; The cost-effectiveness of standalone HEPA filtration units for the prevention of airborne SARS CoV-2 transmission; Trends in Medicaid spending on inhalers in the United States, 2012-2018;Willingness-to-pay tuition and risk-taking proclivities among public health students; The Cost-effectiveness of Improving Indoor Air Ventilation for the Prevention of Covid-19 in Commercial Spaces; The cost-effectiveness of common strategies for the prevention of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in universities; Population; Prevalence Association between lung function and future risks of diabetes, asthma, myocardial infarction, hypertension and all-cause mortality; Evaluation of screening strategies for pulmonary tuberculosis among hospitalized patients in a low-burden setting: cost-effectiveness of GeneXpert MTB/RIF compared to smear microscopy; $163,236 contract from GlaxoSmithKline for “Predicting the Long-Term Health and Economic Societal Burden of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in China.”

next gen


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