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GAO Concludes Helicopter Noise Study

Recently, the GAO (The Government’s Accountability Office) has concluded the study about the helicopter noise in the Washington D.C. Metro area.

According to the report, the GAO recommends that the Administrator of the FAA should direct the Office of Environment and Energy to develop a mechanism to exchange helicopter noise information with operators in the D.C. area.

Many of our College Park residents, especially from north College Park, live with the impacts of regular helicopter noise that interrupts sleep patterns, causes their homes to shake, and negatively impacts their quality of life. Disturbances from helicopter noise have been a longstanding problem and many have noted recent increases in the frequency and severity of helicopter noise in their neighborhoods.

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), and David Trone (D-MD) requested the study in January, 2019.

In July 2017, I requested that a letter be sent to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that College Park be included in the GAO study of the effect of helicopter noise in the Washington Metropolitan region.

The report recognizes that helicopter noise can potentially expose members of the public to a variety of negative effects, ranging from annoyance to more serious medical issues. FAA is responsible for managing navigable U.S. airspace and regulating noise from civil helicopter operations. Residents of the D.C. area have raised concerns about the number of helicopter flights and the resulting noise.

GAO was asked to review issues related to helicopter flights and noise within the D.C. area. Among its objectives, this report examines: (1) what is known about helicopter flights and noise from flights in the D.C. area, and (2) the extent to which FAA and helicopter operators have taken action to address helicopter noise in the D.C. area. GAO reviewed statutes, regulations, policies, and documents on helicopter noise. GAO analyzed (1) available data on helicopter operations and noise in the D.C. area for 2017 through 2019, and (2) FAA’s approach to responding to helicopter complaints. GAO also interviewed FAA officials; representatives from 18 D.C. area helicopter operators, selected based on operator type and the number of flights; and 10 local communities, selected based on factors including geography and stakeholder recommendations.

You can find the complete report here. Also, more here on the Washington Post.

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