Officials from the Metropolitan Washington Airports received 8,670 noise complaints about the Reagan National Airport in 2015. Interestingly, 6,500 of those complaints were submitted by a single person. The complainant, who was not named, made an average of 18 complaints every day, for an entire year.
Authorities are not revealing the identity of this excessively exasperated person, but according to the Washington Post, the person resides in Northwest Washington.
The complaints caught the attention of the D.C. Fair Skies Coalition, which raises awareness about the plights of those disturbed by incessant flights over residential areas. Coalition President Ed Solomon said he is not taking the complaints lightly, although more than 6,500 were made by a single resident.
Solomon said the complaints underline how severe the problem had become. In his opinion, it can no longer be ignored because it has affected many households and had spread to different parts of the city, including Woodley Park, Glover Park, and Cleveland Park.
Residents link the increase in noise pollution to the Federal Aviation Administration flight navigation upgrade — NextGen. The $29 billion dollar program is meant to raise the standard of the nation’s air traffic control systems, by replacing the World War II-era radar setup with cutting-edge satellite navigation.
The FAA says the modification is expected save fuel and reduce carbon emissions because planes now fly shorter distances. This technology is already in use in Atlanta’s busiest airport, where officials say it helped reduced time of departure by 48 percent. The aviation agency also estimates airlines in Washington will be able to reduce their yearly fuel consumption by a whopping 2.5 million gallons.
— WTOP (@WTOP) March 13, 2016
Unfortunately, the newer technology has increased protests at Reagan National and other airports nationwide. For example, the Northern California communities of Santa Cruz, who rarely saw planes flying over their houses, now feel as if they are camped on a runway — although the nearest airport is 60 miles away.
Residents in New York, Arizona, Illinois, Phoenix, and Minneapolis are also complaining about changing flight patterns now buzzing over their communities.
New flight patterns were introduced at San Francisco’s airport in March, 2014. However, by 2015, noise complaints increased from 14,726 to 152,336. In 2015, Reagan Airport noise complaints were up to 8,670, from 1,286 the previous year.
Herald Net reports airport authorities were quick to note that nearly 7,000 complaints came from a single person. However, many residents agree that the noise pollution in the area has increased astronomically.
As required by law, environmental and noise studies were conducted in areas where new flight patterns were put in place. FAA officials determined the impact of the new routes on local communities would be minimal.
But, Tomasita Viallarroel and her family, who picked out the Foxhall neighborhood in Northwest Washington because of the convenience it offered, are far from impressed.
According to Viallarroel, everything has changed in the last year, with the consistent noise of airplanes passing overhead. “It wasn’t like this before, the planes were flying over the Potomac River, so we could hear them, but it wasn’t so loud,” she said.
Awesome flying into Washington DC Reagan airport w/ aerial view of most historic sites – majestic! pic.twitter.com/vz38vl8h6n
— Sam Chand (@samchand) March 10, 2016
Tomasita Viallarroel said her 4-year-old son, Luke, was finding it difficult to sleep at night because of the noise, and that she recently got a note from his teacher saying that he was sleeping during school hours. “He wakes up regularly at night and can’t go back to sleep,” she complained.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, who has been openly critical of the FAA’s approach to informing residents about the impact of flight-path alterations, said: “D.C. has become a poster child for what is happening all over the country.”
Norton believes that progress is being made, but it might not be coming quickly enough for those who are looking for relief right now, like the Washington resident who lodged 6,500 noise complaints against Reagan National Airport.
[Image via Shutterstock/Tdoes]