D.C. bill aims at helicopter noise complaint data

Photo credit: Chait Goli

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

District of Columbia (D.C.) Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton said that she hears daily from D.C. residents that helicopter noise disrupts their lives. In this press release, she said that noise is harmful to health and overall quality of life. Norton is the co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, and has shown interest in the impact of aviation noise on the health of residents. In early March, she introduced a bill that would require the Federal Aviation Administration to share helicopter noise complaint data with the National Capital Region. The data would also be available online to the public.

After a pilot study on a helicopter sharing mechanism, Fairfax and Arlington counties initiated a helicopter data sharing mechanism. However, it’s limited to northern Virginia. This creates a need for data-sharing in the National Capital Region. Norton believes that sharing information on helicopter noise complaints will make it easier to develop solutions to the problem.

Norton’s bill still requires the support of her colleagues. While we might agree that data are helpful in leading to solutions to noise issues, we have not always seen such data leading to action. For example, with all the data we already have linking noise — including aviation noise — to adverse mental and health effects, one might ask why we haven’t found more ways to lessen noise. One could also ask whether the data collected in Fairfax and Arlington counties have resulted in ways to lessen helicopter noise.  

Despite the questions raised above, I still support Norton’s bill.  

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