The Problem Of Noise

For a short overview of the aircraft noise problems introduced by the FAA's NextGen air traffic control system, watch this video created by our friends at Sky Posse Los Altos.

Many residents of the mid-Peninsula moved here because of the region's open spaces, natural beauty, and peacefulness. But our quality of life is now being disrupted by more than 200 noisy aircraft overflights per day, dramatically more than a year ago. We are concerned for three reasons.

The Role of the Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA is in the midst of a nationwide rollout of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), a project which has been plagued by cost overruns and schedule delays. In the Bay Area, the NextGen rollout started in March 2015. The FAA bills NextGen as quiet and efficient, but the truth for those on the ground is very different.

The FAA built a "highway in the sky" (this is the FAA's choice of words) over our homes, literally overnight March 4, 2015, without informing affected residents or giving us an appropriate opportunity to object. They also did so without conducting a full environment impact report--by declaring a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Bay Area rollout of NextGen.

The FAA's assessment of "no significant impact" from these changes is directly contradicted by the exponential increase in noise complaints received by the SFO Noise Abatement Office (over 113,000 complaints in the first 3 weeks of January alone, compared to about 14,000 complaints in all of 2014; SFO has received so many noise complaints in 2015 that they are months behind in providing updated noise complaint counts; at last count, 150,000 for the first 8 months of 2015).

Furthermore, the current FAA noise metrics do not account for the significant increase in frequency that occurs under the new NextGen corridors.  The FAA is quick to tout the benefits that NextGen yields in reduced fuel consumption and increased capacity--but these changes benefit airlines and airport operators and come at the expense of those of us on the ground.

The FAA's flawed NextGen implementation is also well-documented, and is a growing problem nationwide--Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Phoenix, San Diego, and Chicago are all suffering from dramatically increased noise due to NextGen.

Learn How the FAA (and EPA) Measure Noise

Our friends from SkyPosse Palo Alto prepared a good primer on the FAA's noise metrics, if you'd like to learn more about why the FAA's standard for noise is outdated.