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Beyer, Federal And Local Officials Announce New Actions To Reduce Helicopter Noise In Northern Virginia

U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) today announced, with federal and local officials, new measures to mitigate the impact of disruptive helicopter noise in Northern Virginia and across the national capital region. The announcements were made at a press conference in Arlington (pictures are available here).

Beyer was joined by representatives of the Department of Defense (DOD), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Helicopter Association International (HAI), who announced new measures to raise altitudes and alter flight paths to reduce the impact of noise over residential areas. Their announcement followed FAA analysis of data from a pilot program to track helicopter noise complaints by residents using a system developed on recommendations made in a 2021 General Accounting Office (GAO) report which Beyer requested.

Local elected leaders Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey, Fairfax Deputy County Executive Tom Arnold, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, and Falls Church Mayor David Tarter then announced an agreement between their Northern Virginia jurisdictions to fund that helicopter complaint system going forward, extending its life beyond the pilot program.

“Since I took office over eight years ago, helicopter noise has been a constant source of complaints from constituents across Northern Virginia. Here in the nation’s capital with military, medical, commercial and other aviation, aircraft noise will always be with us – but there are things we can do to help reduce the impact on residents,” said Congressman Don Beyer.  “The actions we announced today with partners at the federal and local level and our friends at HAI include FAA changes to helicopter flight paths and regional jurisdiction funding to continue the valuable complaint tracking system which helped inform those changes. These actions are a direct response to community input, and I thank the many people whose efforts helped inform the actions we are announcing today, as well as our partners across levels of government who are acting to reduce helicopter noise in Northern Virginia.”

“Working with U.S. Congressman Beyer and Northern Virginia and Maryland local governments, we were able to reduce helicopter noise and maintain safe operations for these communities. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we’re all in the same room with the same access to information and working toward the same goal,” said Peter Hearding, deputy assistant administrator for the FAA’s Office of Policy, International Affairs and Environment.

“The changes made by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to adjust and raise helicopter routes are an important step in the right direction to address helicopter noise concerns within the National Capital Region,” said Mr. Ronald Tickle, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Real Property. “The Department of Defense is committed to being good neighbors and takes the concerns of Congress and its constituents seriously. The Department looks forward to further collaboration to mitigate helicopter noise in the National Capital Region, while continuing to meet mission requirements.”

“Thanks to Congressman Beyer’s leadership and the FAA’s initiative to bring together the operator community, the study provided opportunities to adjust routes that the FAA identified, evaluated, and will soon implement,” said Jeff Smith, chair of the Helicopter Association International Board of Directors. “Best practices from this program, along with the data collected from this new initiative, can and will make a noticeable difference in this community. This pilot program is a perfect case study for how government and industry can work together to address issues and deliver tangible results.”

“We are very pleased that the FAA is permanently adopting last year’s pilot program, a helicopter noise complaint for our region,” said Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey. “We are especially pleased that our residents could participate meaningfully in this process, and now will continue to. In a democracy it is crucial that people have a voice in how their government affects them.”

“Fairfax County is pleased to partner with our neighbors and Congressman Beyer to participate in the Helicopter Noise Complaint System to ensure Northern Virginians can report information that will help influence positive adjustments in noise reduction,” said Fairfax Deputy County Executive Tom Arnold.

“We are grateful to Congressman Beyer for his efforts to find creative ways to identify and address the impacts of helicopter noise in our communities,” said City of Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “This helicopter noise complaint tool was far more than a nicety to assuage frustrated residents. This tool gathered data that was used by the FAA to make important changes that will mitigate helicopter noise across our region. Our residents weren’t just listened to – they were heard.”

“The City of Falls Church is pleased to collaborate with our federal and local partners to reduce helicopter noise for all of our residents,” said City of Falls Church Mayor Tarter.

Aircraft noise has been a consistent source of constituent complaints in Virginia’s 8th District since Beyer took office in 2015. He recently toured the DCA control tower, where he learned about the systems and processes for tracking air traffic, including helicopters, in the capital region. He previously met with the Regional FAA Administrator earlier this year, discussing aircraft noise mitigation efforts at length.