Small Device Drives Airport Noise Complaints

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Image: Airnoise

Image: Airnoise

Imagine you live close to a major airport, and since NextGen has changed many air routes in the last few years, a lot more noisy airplanes fly right over your house. Now it’s easy for those citizens to file a noise complaint — instead of facing hours of paperwork, they can just push a button on a thumb-size device like those used by Amazon shoppers to order household goods. Barbara Deckert, who lives in suburban Maryland, told the Washington Post she has filed thousands of complaints: “Clicking that button is really psychologically satisfying.”

Airports in areas where dismay over noise is common say they have seen dramatic increases in complaints since the Airnoise device became available. According to the Post, officials at BWI believe Airnoise is why complaints surged from 2,692 in July to 17,228 in August. The Airnoise website says so far they have logged more than a million complaints at 29 U.S. airports. They also say they plan to soon release iOS and Android apps to make it even easier to file a report.

Airnoise airports

Airnoise airports

Comments (10)

How interesting it is that airplane noise generates push button devices and apps with which to complain right down to the specific flight number while noise created by loud cars, trucks, jake brakes, motorcycles, boom boxes, gunshots, college kids on spring break etc. merits no mention. Having spent many a night at all major US airports in the US as well as at many major international airports, my experience is that these other sources of noice are much more annoying than overflying airplanes. Do all these complainers resent the competition that airplanes give their local street and neighborhood noise or is it that it's simply easier to target flight numbers than individuals and their license plates?

John Kliewer

Posted by: John Kliewer | December 31, 2018 7:31 PM    Report this comment

I have to wonder how many of those huge increase in complaints originate from a few malcontents that spend most of their day pushing the buttons. Make it easy enough to complain and even lazy people will chime in. The realingment of approach and departure patterns has certainly increased the noise above certain areas, but it is no fault of the pilots or their planes. They are just flying the routes dictated by ATC. The unspoken problem is that most of those airports were originally built out in the country away from the population, but then the city grew up to surround the airport. Now the neighbors complain about the noise even though they knew the airport was there when they moved in. Airports create commerce, and commerce attracts land development. Unfortunately airplanes get the blame for poor land management and government indifference to the communities.

Posted by: John McNamee | January 1, 2019 12:14 PM    Report this comment

Due to how small the aviation community is it has always been easier to blame aviation for anything! Just look at all the "noise" restrictions, ridiculous customs rules for aircraft on international flights, and the stupid TSA rules aviation is now stuck with. If politicians tried to apply these rules to the average auto driver, or pedestrian crossing the border, they would get voted out of office. Just wait until TSA starts enforcing the new drivers license rule for use as ID to get on an airliner!

Posted by: matthew wagner | January 1, 2019 12:41 PM    Report this comment

'Barbara Deckert, who lives in suburban Maryland, told the Washington Post she has filed thousands of complaints: "Clicking that button is really psychologically satisfying."'

Much like pressing the "Walk" button at the street corner - it's makes you feel good.

Airplane noise is all about perception vs reality. Rather, the "haves" vs "have-nots". Cars? Well, I have a car, so I guess it's not noisy. Airplanes? Damn rich people and/or uncaring companies ruining my day!

(Never mind that if/when THEY fly as a passenger on said airline, they are now the source of the noise).

There's a similar problem in Greenwich, CT. A VERY rich town. In the fall lots of mansions have hordes of landscapers using leafblowers on the acres of manicured lawns. So, the "have nots" complained about the noise and passed noise ordinances limiting the hours that leaf blowers can be used.

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | January 1, 2019 1:30 PM    Report this comment

This is possibly a wonderful thing for us pilots. Up until now, the rare-ish legitimate noise complaint could trigger an investigation by the airport authority. Now there are thousands of complaints (from even a single person) likely about every single aircraft that flew over.

Two outcomes seem possible:
1) Airport authorities will add dozens of new staff members (maybe even hundreds when one citizen can deliver 1000s of complaints) to deal with all these new complaints. They'll need to procure noise measuring equipment to determine whether local noise ordinances are actually violated. This will require more flights by the same aircraft over the same location while technicians monitor. Then, they might be able to issue a fine.

2) Airport authorities will just decide it's all just a waste of time and not bother reading any of them.

I'm guessing #2, unless cities see noise ordinance investigation and violations as a real revenue opportunity.

Posted by: Steve Miller | January 1, 2019 6:33 PM    Report this comment

People making comparisons of cars, motorcycles, and trucks to aircraft, do not I've in a direct final approach to Atlanta International airport(the busiest airport). It's bad when you have to suspend conversation until passenger jet passes over.
As a matter of fact as I'm sitting in my office making this entry I hear the planes going over.

James Crane

Posted by: James Crane | January 2, 2019 8:40 AM    Report this comment

"Imagine you live close to a major airport"

I take it that these push button devices are only issued to those that have lived there since before the airport was built?

Posted by: Robert Ore | January 2, 2019 10:11 AM    Report this comment

I'm thinking I've had enough.

If these folks want to shut down their local airport, let em. There are probably hundreds more communities that do support local aviation and those funds that would have gone to the airports now shutdown, can be moved to where airports are appreciated.

Posted by: Robert Ore | January 2, 2019 10:18 AM    Report this comment

Well done AvWeb! As if the .0000000000000000001% of the population anywhere, better known as the airport whiners, needed any further encouragement to make pointless complaints. Here's a thought, if you don't like the "noise", MOVE!

And yes, I have lived on or near large busy airports, Navy bases, and Air Force bases most of my life. In many places the books would be rattled off the shelves as the jets went over in full afterburner. Didn't bother me at all.

Posted by: Steve Rush | January 2, 2019 4:05 PM    Report this comment

"People making comparisons of cars, motorcycles, and trucks to aircraft, do not I've in a direct final approach to Atlanta International airport(the busiest airport). It's bad when you have to suspend conversation until passenger jet passes over."

That is undoubtedly true. However, in attending public meetings on noise monitoring, and reading newspaper accounts, the complainers are usually located much farther from the airport.

Westchester Airport (HPN), for example, has microphones throughout the neighborhood. They correlate noise complaints with the nearest recording. In many cases garbage trucks and leaf blowers register higher than the noise of passing aircraft. But, it's the airplane that generates the complaint.

Part of it is the ease with which to complain. When a truck or leaf blower makes noise, who do you call? Who's to blame? But, when an airplane makes noise? Easy - call the airport, blame the airport!

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | January 3, 2019 5:39 AM    Report this comment

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