Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-District 8) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), along with Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), and David Trone (D-MD), announced Friday that they would introduce legislation to implement the recommendation from the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recently released report on helicopter noise in the National Capital Region (NCR), according to a press release:
In January 2019, the Members wrote GAO requesting it conduct a study of helicopter noise in the NCR. GAO announced in June 2019 that it would conduct the study.
The report recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) direct its Office of Environment and Energy to develop a mechanism to exchange helicopter noise information with operators in the D.C. area. The FAA’s current ability to work with helicopter operators in the D.C. area is limited because of the absence of effective information sharing mechanisms. Creating a more effective information sharing mechanism would also allow for better, more comprehensive data on helicopter noise complaints that would help develop solutions in the future.
“As residents of the District and the region can attest, helicopter noise from police and military helicopters continue to plague many of our neighborhoods,” Norton said. “Our residents need to know what can be done to reduce helicopter noise. This study’s recommendations are an important step toward getting much-needed information to deliver relief to our communities and making sure we minimize disruptions to neighborhoods and families.”
“Helicopter and aviation noise in the National Capital Region is a disruption we must manage,” Connolly said.“As a delegation, we are committed to remedying this disturbance and I am glad GAO has provided concrete recommendations on how the FAA can better address this problem.”
“As helicopter noise increases in frequency and severity, my constituents continue to share their concerns with me,” Raskin said. “The recommendations outlined by the GAO are critical to understanding helicopter noise and how we can reduce its disruption of our daily lives. I am hopeful these recommendations will enable us to create more solutions to the chronic noise problems that our communities face.”
“The idea of a system to report and track noise complaints across the region was widely supported by my constituents at a town hall I hosted to bring together members of the community concerned about increases in helicopter noise with officials at the Department of Defense,” Beyer said. “I worked with my colleagues to get the federal government to study helicopter noise and make policy recommendations via a series of NDAA amendments, and today GAO is adding its voice to those across the region who want a tracking system for noise complaints. We all recognize that there will always be some level of helicopter activity in the capital area, but implementing this proposal would give us the data we need to help mitigate the problem, and I will continue working to make it a reality. ”
“Communities in and around Washington, D.C. understand that helicopter activity is a normal aspect of daily life as part of government, military, law enforcement and medical operations. However, we can and we must develop new strategies that allow flights to continue while minimizing severe disruptions for our residents,” Brown said. “Through proper noise mitigation, planning and operational changes we can ensure the health and wellbeing of those we represent and keep our region moving.”
“Helicopter noise has been disruptive and harmful to D.C. area residents, and it’s something that we have to address,” said Rep. Trone. “By implementing the recommendations of the GAO, the FAA should be able to reduce the noise impacting my constituents.”
In their 2019 letter, the Members wrote, “Many of our constituents live with the impacts of regular helicopter noise that interrupts sleep patterns, causes their homes to shake and negatively impacts their quality of life. While disturbances from helicopter noise have been a longstanding problem for some, others have noted recent increases in the frequency and severity of helicopter noise in their neighborhoods. We understand that helicopter activity is an essential part of law enforcement, military and medical operations and appreciate the critical efforts of employees serving in those sectors. However, we also believe that, through information collection, analysis and coordination, we can identify strategies to minimize the negative impacts of helicopter activity without impeding the work of the agencies operating helicopters within the region.”
In its January 7 report, the GAO recommended that “the Administrator of the FAA should direct the Office of Environment and Energy to develop a mechanism to exchange helicopter noise information with operators in the D.C. area.”
Photo: An UH-1N Iroquois lands at Joint Base Andrews, Md., April 13, 2017. The helicopters belonging to the 1st Helicopter Squadron, which performed a medical evacuation of a downed pilot during the F-16 Fighting Falcon crash incident April 5. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Fetter)