Email Archives

Subject: Airport Noise Developments
Date Sent: March 11, 2017


I am writing to remind you of our requests for assistance on three issues, and also to advise you of a developments concerning airport noise and what you can do about this important issue. It's time to get more involved.

  1. Website. We are looking for help to manage our website and perform occasional tasks to keep it current. Someone with a tech and website background who would view this as a community service would be ideal. We can pay reasonable fees. Any leads would be appreciated. Below is a link to our website.
  2. Meeting arrangements. We are looking for a couple of volunteers to help with our quarterly meetings. What is involved is obtaining refreshments such as lemonade and cookies)(you are reimbursed) and helping to set up our meeting room. Not a big time commitment, only a couple of hours each quarter, but very important to making our meetings work. Volunteer and help make BCA great.
  3. Speakers. We are always looking ahead to identify people, preferably neighbors, who can speak at our meetings. This is a vibrant community of accomplished people with diverse careers and interests. Suggestions are appreciated.
  4. Airport Noise. On Friday, the Montgomery County Quiet Skies Coalition sent the attached letter to the Federal Aviation Administration demanding relief from excessive airplane noise. The letter below from the Coalition explains how this happened. Additional details are on the MC Quiet Skies website.

    MC Quiet Skies asks that you consider calling or e-mailing policy makers listed below and ask that the FAA:
    (1) Revert back to the pre-Dec 2015 flight paths, and
    (2) Stop trying to implement new GPS flight paths that would send even more concentrated air traffic over our homes, schools and parks.

    You can also submit complaints to : Our neighbor Bekki Sims is the contact person for the Bannockburn Citizens Association on these matters. You can reach Bekki at: For more information on MC Quiet Skies or to receive email updates and announcements, send an email to:

Best Wishes,
Ted Garrett,
BCA President


Rep. Jamie Raskin United States Congressman, Maryland 8th District;
Rockville: 301-354-1000 D.C.: 202-225-5341
ATTENTION: Nina Weisbroth and/or:
Rockville Office: 51 Monroe St Suite 507 (Temporary) Rockville, MD 20850 Washington,
DC Office: 431 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Sen. Chris Van Hollen
D.C.: (202) 224-4654 Fax: (202) 228-0629 TTY: (202) 224-1546
Rockville: (301) 545-1500
ATTENTION: Karen McManus, and/or Brent Girard
Washington, D.C. Office 110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510;
State Offices: 111 Rockville Pike Suite 960 Rockville, MD 20850

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin,
Rockville: (301) 762-2974,
ATTENTION: Ann Jacobs, (202) 224-4524; Rockville,451 Hungerford Drive Suite 230 Rockville, MD, 20850.



March 10, 2017

Michael Huerta
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave., SW
Washington DC 20591

Carmine Gallo
Eastern Regional Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
United States Department of Transportation
1 Aviation Plaza
Jamaica, NY 11434-4809

Dear Messrs. Huerta and Gallo:

Imagine waking up one day to the sound of a freight train outside your home. You look outside to discover a railroad track in your backyard. Trains roar by every 30 seconds from 5:50 am until after midnight. Just as the sound of one train passes, the next begins to escalate. Now imagine being told that the railroad is permanent and the noise will only get worse!

That is the equivalent of what thousands of Montgomery County, MD residents woke up to in in December 2015 when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), without any public process, created a "railway in the sky" directly over our homes, schools and parks, bombarding residents with hundreds of low-flying airplanes 18 hours per day, seven days a week.

No longer can we entertain or play with our children in the backyard without pausing conversation as airplanes roar overhead. Gone are the days when we open our windows to enjoy the fresh spring air without feeling like we are standing on a tarmac. Noise levels inside aren't much better. Windows rattle and people are forced to raise their voices and their TV volume as one plane after another flies overhead. All this noise even though many of us are over 15 miles from the airport.

How did this happen?

As set forth in the March 7, 2017 "Response of Montgomery County, Maryland, to FAA February 16, 2017 Presentations" (Attached), the FAA implemented changes in December 2015 that materially altered long-standing south-flow approach procedures into Runway 19 at Reagan National Airport (DCA) resulting in significant adverse noise impacts on thousands of Montgomery County residents. Some of these changes were requested by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).

In April 2015, the FAA decommissioned a RNAV (RNP) approach to Runway 19 that used to direct aircraft west of the Potomac River and over areas of McLean, Virginia. This RNAV approach was replaced with a new RNAV (RNP) approach that shifted flights to the east and directly over residential communities in Montgomery County.

On December 10, 2015, the FAA adopted an Amendment to the DCA River Visual Runway 19 Approach (Amendment 5) that eliminated two long-standing approach procedures that directed air traffic over parts of Virginia (ROSSLYN LDA or LDA-Y and DCA R-148/328). Also on that date, the FAA implemented the new RNAV (RNP) Runway 19 approach.

As a result of these material changes to DCA approach procedures, hundreds of flights were shifted to Montgomery County skies. Approaching airplanes now converge at a new way point "FERGI" just above residential Potomac, MD and then fly southeast over Carderock, Cabin John, Glen Echo, Bethesda and Brookmont neighborhoods before joining the Potomac River. Residents in these neighborhoods who had never before experienced such concentrated air traffic or excessive noise and air pollution now must endure approximately 400 low flying flights daily when DCA operates in south-flow approach. To make matters worse, flights drop to altitudes as low as 1700 feet or less as they fly their "Optimized Profile Descent" (OPD) into DCA. These OPD procedures only add to the intense noise caused by arriving flights. Noise levels can peak in the high 70 decibel range and most often just as the sound from one jet engine is fading away, the engine noise of another begins to escalate.

Despite the obvious and significant increase of air traffic and noise these procedures would impose upon residents in Montgomery County, the FAA and MWAA approved these material changes without any notice to Montgomery County residents or leaders and prior to Montgomery County's representation on the DCA Community Noise Working Group.

The FAA conducted no environmental review or noise studies prior to moving the "noise footprint" over Montgomery Country neighborhoods, despite the demonstrated links between noise and adverse health effects including stress related illnesses, hypertension and heart disease. There was no public process and the FAA provided no documented evidence to support these substantive changes, including its determination that there would be no significant impact.

The FAA's only justification for the 2015 changes to south-flow approach procedures is that they were consistent with MWAA's long-standing goal of "having aircraft spend more time over water and less time over land." Because the 2015 changes directed hundreds of flights per day directly over residential communities, this justification simply fails.

In fact, at the February 2017 DCA Community Noise Working Group meeting, Montgomery County representatives proposed shifting FERGI so that aircraft would converge over the River rather than over residential areas. Even though that proposal was consistent with MWAA's goal of keeping aircraft over the water, the FAA and MWAA rejected the proposal. Why? Flights had not previously been directed over Montgomery County communities, so why is this suddenly the default option?

In 2015, FAA authorized new RNAV flight paths (also created without notice and proper environmental review) that sent hundreds of north-bound departure flights over the same Montgomery County neighborhoods being hammered by arriving flights. So now these communities must bear the entire burden of the DC region's arriving and departing air traffic.

Also troubling is the FAA's current push to proceed with the DCA Prototype Area Navigation (RNAV) (GPS) Runway 19 Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP) that will essentially mimic the current RNAV (RNP) flight path over densely populated residential areas.

We note that the current RNAV (RNP) was issued without any public process and without adequate consideration of the noise and health impacts to the people and environment under the new flight path. Given the undeniable, substantial and adverse impacts of the current RNAV (RNP), it certainly should not serve as the baseline for determining the new RNAV (GPS) flight path. Moreover, just like the RNAV (RNP), the RNAV (GPS) prototype directly contradicts MWAA's stated goal of having aircraft spend less time over land.

As a Coalition with members from over 20 Montgomery County communities with over 20,000 residents who are significantly impacted by these material changes to south-flow approach procedures, we are extremely disappointed that the FAA and MWAA approved these changes despite the obvious detriment it would impose upon Maryland residents. We urge the FAA to act swiftly to remedy the significant negative impacts these changes inflicted upon Maryland residents and:

  1. Rescind all changes made to south-flow Runway 19 approaches in 2015 that shifted excessive numbers of flights, noise and air pollution over residential Montgomery County neighborhoods; and
  2. Stop further consideration of RNAV (GPS) prototype procedures until the FAA completes a full environmental review of any proposed changes to pre-2015 south-flow Runway 19 approach procedures that fully considers the significant impacts to the residents and the environment under any proposed flight path.
It is important to acknowledge that Montgomery County residents did not choose to live under these concentrated flight paths. Residents made the decision to reside in their communities based on well-settled flight paths, only to have the FAA suddenly change course and drop a "railroad" over their homes. As a result, many residents are unable to peacefully enjoy their property; they worry about the health impacts of noise and pollution from thousands of low flying aircraft over their homes and their children's schools and parks; and realize that the property values in their previously-quiet neighborhoods are certain to decline.

It also is important to reiterate that the FAA has (1) failed to provide a plausible justification for the sudden noise dump over our communities and (2) offered no evidence to support their conclusion that changes to Runway 19 approach procedures would not have a significant impact on Montgomery County communities. As Montgomery County residents who live under these new flight paths, we expect more and trust you will work quickly to remedy this inequitable burden that has been placed on our Sincerely, MONTGOMERY COUNTY QUIET SKIES COALITION

Cc: Governor Lawrence Hogan
Senator Chris Van Hollen
Senator Ben Cardin
Congressman Jamie Raskin
Congressman John Delaney
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner
Maryland State Senator Susan Lee
Maryland Delegate Marc Korman
Maryland Delegate William Frick
Maryland Delegate Ariana Kelly
MWAA Board Chairman William Shaw McDermott
MWAA Board Member (MD) Bradley Mims
MWAA Board Member (MD) Earl Adams Jr.
MWAA Board Member (MD) Mark Uncapher
Maryland Aviation Administration Chief Engineer, Paul Shank

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