Tackling the harmful economic and health effects of airplane noise is a top priority for Congresswoman Karen Bass and for the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus. Rep. Bass represents California’s 37th Congressional District, which borders Santa Monica Airport (SMO) and is located a few miles north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
After the 2018 FAA implementation of the Southern California Metroplex project as part of the NextGen update of US airspace mandated by Congress in 2004, the narrowing of the North Downwind Arrival flight path into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) concentrated noise over Culver City and West Adams, neighborhoods nearly eight miles away from the airport where flight noise had never been a large problem before. Other districts across the nation have been similarly affected. These problems led to the creation and growth of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, and several Members of Congress have been active in proposing legislation to address aircraft noise.
Air travel is a significant part of the U.S. economy, and the safety of U.S. air travel, facilitated by the FAA and all those involved in the use of U.S. air space, is a point of pride. The updating of U.S. airspace under the FAA NextGen project was intended to enhance the reliability, efficiency and safety of air travel. But excessive, concentrated noise both from NextGen and from the increase in air traffic does real harm to human health and local economies.
Rep. Bass has introduced several pieces of legislation, including amendments to the FAA reauthorization and to appropriations measures, some of which have passed into law. She has also worked with her Quiet Skies Caucus colleagues and supported bills they have introduced. Rep. Bass and her staff continue to seek new avenues to tackle noise and bring relief to those suffering from aviation noise.
More on Airplane Noise
“These metrics are the very foundation of the FAA’s understanding of aircraft noise in the United States,” the members wrote. “If these metrics are not reliable, that calls into question the FAA’s entire framework of regulations and programs to reduce aircraft noise. It also suggests the FAA may not be doing enough because, to date, it has not understood the true scope of the problem.”
The letter posed several specific questions and asked for a response in writing within 60 days. The full letter is below.
March 10, 2021
“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 FAA’s report is inadequate and incomplete, to say the least,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “The FAA failed to meet its mandate because it didn’t evaluate alternative noise metrics, standing by standards that don’t fully capture noise impacts. The FAA must go back to the drawing board and write a new report. In the meantime, I expect detailed responses to the questions raised by our constituents in this letter, and I know my colleagues want answers, too.”
During a meeting with Administrator Dickson in October 2019, Caucus members expressed serious concerns about airplane and helicopter noise and the FAA’s lack of responsiveness to impacted communities. Caucus Members asked questions about unresolved problems and FAA’s plans, as well as issues specific to their districts. The FAA responded formally in January in a letter addressed to QSC co-chair Eleanor Holmes-Norton.
“In a time when Trump is featured in every headline, it’s important to make sure that the real struggles and issues that local constituents are facing every day are being heard and addressed,” Rep. Bass said. “These forums give me the opportunity to not only report back on what has been happening in Washington, but to also hear about how I can better serve my community. I look forward to taking what was discussed back to Washington with me and continuing to work on the important issues raised here tonight.”
“It’s long past time for Congress to address airplane noise and its harms,” said Rep. Bass. “Increasing airline efficiency must not and cannot require the sacrifice of health and well-being of those on the ground. I look forward to continuing to fight for constituents affected by the roar of aviation over their heads."
You can watch the remarks made by Rep. Bass upon passage of the FAA reauthorization bill here:
LOS ANGELES – As the FAA Reauthorization package makes its way to the House floor, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) introduced 4 amendments and worked with colleagues on the Quiet Skies Caucus to cosponsor more than 40 others, all aimed at reducing flight noise in Culver City, Baldwin Hills and the West Adams neighborhood. Of these, 12 amendments were accepted to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives.
“Members of our community have been consistently bombarded by noise coming from airplanes flying too low, too loud and too often,” said Rep. Bass. “The amendments I’ve introduced and cosponsored all have one mission; to reduce the rampant onslaught of noise that has made some places in L.A. on the verge of uninhabitable.
In the letter, Rep. Bass highlighted extensive constituent complaints and demanded greater adherence to published minimum altitudes and the elimination of night flights below minimum altitudes. Rep. Bass also suggested that the FAA work with LAWA and others to reduce night flights over homes whenever safety permits.
You can read the full letter here or below:
October 6, 2017