Congressman Beyer’s News Commentary: Helicopter Noise in Northern Virginia
Washington, April 25, 2018
I wanted to update you on the recent efforts I have made to address the problem of helicopter noise in Northern Virginia.
I appreciated the thoughtful feedback I received from constituents during my Fairlington community forum in January, and I have tried to address those complaints with amendments I introduced this past week to H.R. 4, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. While we have had an open and ongoing conversation with the FAA and the Department of Defense, the lack of tangible solutions on their end cannot go unaddressed. The amendments I submitted should help catalyze progress on helicopter noise, and give Northern Virginians a chance to offer feedback directly to the FAA.
The first amendment would require the FAA to review all helicopter flight paths in the National Capital Region, including those used by Department of Defense, to assess whether some helicopter trips could be at higher altitudes, and if so, revise the official flight maps for the region. Progress has been too slow on this issue; we must vigorously explore every plausible solution. People shouldn’t have to live with the constant thunder of helicopter noise – even those who are neighbors to the Pentagon.
My second amendment, which was blocked by the Republican majority on Rules Committee, builds on recommendations from the Defense Department’s February study on mitigating helicopter noise in the National Capital Region. It would have required the FAA to create a noise inquiry website to record complaints about excessive helicopter noise. It would also have required the FAA and the Pentagon to establish a monthly helicopter noise abatement working group.
You may also be interested in the steps I have taken recently to reduce airplane noise, another pervasive problem in our community. While also struck down by the GOP majority, I submitted two amendments that would have addressed the issue of airplane noise. The first would have increased funding for the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program “noise mitigation grants.” These grants are awarded to public-use airports to conduct noise compatibility planning and implement noise compatibility programs, to protect their surrounding communities from intrusive noise. The second amendment would have allowed residential buildings to qualify for soundproofing reimbursement from FAA if they are in certain areas subjected to increased airplane noise. Finally, I am also doing everything possible to block attempts to expand flight slots at National Airport.
I will keep looking for ways to address these problems and overcome GOP roadblocks. I appreciate your engagement on these issues, and I will continue to seek the thoughts and opinions from my constituents to make Northern Virginia a better place to live.