More residents living near Kennedy and LaGuardia airports could be eligible for federal grants to pay for insulating houses from aircraft noise, if the Federal Aviation Administration adopts new standards.
Recent changes to FAA flight procedures require that aircrafts fly lower along more precise paths. Therefore, while actual noise generated by aircrafts has decreased, and the number of people subject to noise has decreased somewhat, lower altitudes and “focused” noise tends to make the situation much worse for those under the newer flight paths.
A proposal before Congress would lower the acceptable DNL value level from 65db(a) to 55db(a). DNL (Day-Night average sound Level) statistics factor in data collected during a 24-hour period, with nighttime hours being weighted and additional 10 dB in consideration of a sensitivity to noise during the nightime hours. This data is then generally averaged over a year-long period.
In response to growing concerns, Governor Cuomo last year directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct what is commonly known as a Part 150 study, in order to define what steps might be taken in order to mitigate the problem. Created by the FAA in 1984, a Part 150 airport noise compatibility study is a set of regulations with two components: noise contour (exposure) maps demonstrating noise levels at airports and in nearby communities; and a noise compatibility program designed to provide solutions to the problem.
The Port Authority announced late last month that the contract for the Part 150 study on Kennedy and LaGuardia airports was awarded to consulting firm Environmental Science Associates. The project, expected to cost approximately $8 million combined for both Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, is to be funded mostly through flight fees and will run from October 2014 to August 2017.
In addition, the Port Authority has already implemented a “webtrak” portion of its website to allow residents to track flight patterns and monitor decibel levels in their communities, increased staffing to handle noise complaints, and committed to doubling the number of sound monitors around the two airports.