Aircraft Noise Soars

Aircraft Noise Soars

Citizens seek answers for why and what can be done.

Increased noise from planes taking off from and landing at Reagan National Airport was the topic of discussion at the West Montgomery County Citizens Association Wednesday, Jan. 11.

“We’re hopeful that maybe we can alter the flight path a little in our favor.” — Carol Van Dam Falk, President, WMCCA

“Many residents of Potomac, Bethesda and Cabin John say they have noticed a significant increase in the number of planes departing from the Potomac River and flying directly over their neighborhoods,” said Carol Van Dam Falk, WMCCA president. “You can’t even have your windows open. We’re hopeful that maybe we can alter the flight path a little in our favor.”

Falk lives in Cabin John one of the neighborhoods affected by the flyovers.

The speaker for the meeting was Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Center. He is on the community working group for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

According to the WMCCA January newsletter, Hartman confirmed that the flight path out of Reagan has changed as has the frequency of arrivals over the area.

In an email, he explained the changes.

“In 2015, the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] implemented NextGen, a satellite based navigation system used in airport approach procedures,” Hartman wrote. “Also in 2015, the FAA eliminated the 148 [degree] radial approach over Northern Virginia. This change was separate from Next Gen, its impact was a more than 30 percent increase in flights collecting over Carderock.”

He further wrote, “We are trying to understand the factors and decision process that was used to make this change. In many ways this change is more disruptive to neighbors that NextGen. Arriving flights are much lower that departures.”

The Federal Aviation Administration NextGen program, according to the FAA website, “… is a comprehensive suite of state-of-the-art technologies and procedure that, in short, enable aircraft to move more directly from Point A to Point B.”

With NextGen, pilots now follow an automated departure procedure designed for fuel efficiency.

Takeoff and landing procedures outlined on the airport’s website,, shows routes along the Potomac River “for limiting aircraft noise exposure.”

Unfortunately for residents of the Potomac area including Cabin John, Carderock, Avenel and Woodrock, air traffic is not confined to the river once it reaches the American Legion Bridge.

Hartman wrote in the email that he has been working on the problem for a year and hears frequently from residents and community associations along the Potomac.

He said he is hopeful for success.

So far the county has been allowed two additional representative on the community work group.

He has introduced recommendations requesting the FAA develop solutions to address the problems of aircraft noise.

And the group has successfully stopped Lazir B, additional changes in flight patterns, which, Hartman wrote, “… would have made aircraft noise worse for many.”

Hartman can be reached at