Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Letters Work Against Aircraft Noise

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Letters Work Against Aircraft Noise

In 2015 the FAA implemented “NextGen,” a new air traffic control system that concentrated all south flow departing flights from DCA into a single "superhighway", causing intense and relentless noise pollution over the neighborhoods beneath this new flight path .

In early 2017 several residents of affected neighborhoods, with the support of Supervisor Dan Storck and Del. Paul Krizek, formed the South Flow Alliance (https://www.facebook.com/southflowalliance) with the goal of informing and mobilizing the community and making our voices heard at the FAA. Our group now includes representatives from several neighborhoods including Hollin Hills, Villamay, Gum Springs and Wellington, and we meet regularly with a member of the DCA Community Noise Working Group, which identifies community concerns and makes recommendations to the FAA.

In July 2017, the MWAA DCA Community Noise Working Group (http://www.flyreagan.com/dca/dca-reagan-national-community-working-group) approved and submitted a proposal (Recommendation #8) to the FAA that, among other things, would revise the DCA runway 19 departure procedure and have departing airplanes centered over the Potomac River to approximately 10 miles south of the airport and climbing to 5,000 ft. before making a south west turn to a point south of Fort Belvoir at 7,000 ft. and then intercepting a flight path south, south west or west depending on the destination.

The FAA presented its response and a consensus was reached by the MWAA WG following an FAA presentation in April 2018. This put the option of a true solution on the table. That is the good news.

The not so good news is that the final OK to initiate the departure procedure implementation process has now been delayed due to a lawsuit brought by the of State of Maryland against the FAA. The FAA has discontinued conversation with MWAAA WG until further notice, citing pending litigation. The MWAA WG is working hard to re-engage the FAA on items relating to south flow procedures, as these are not involved in the litigation, and our hope is that the FAA will return to the table soon.

When the MWAA WG proposal is approved by the FAA, they will begin an 18-month safety and environmental review with public presentations and outreach as part of the process. The earliest any potential changes could be implemented is in 2020. It's a frustratingly slow and complicated process with many components, but it is important to be persistent and keep submitting noise complaints and contacting our elected officials. Noise complaints filed online get no immediate response, but they are being collected and tallied, and they help our cause. Keep those earplugs in for now but don’t give up!


  • Submit a Reagan National aircraft noise complaint: https://viewpoint.bksv.com/dca3 or download the free Bruel & Kjaer Viewpoint App that allows you to file complaints in seconds from your phone.

  • Call or write to members of Congress, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, asking them to support the MWAA WG recommendations.

Friederike Ahrens