Rep. Lynch and Quiet Skies Caucus Introduce Airplane Impacts Mitigation Act

Apr 27, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston), joined by members of the bipartisan Quiet Skies Caucus, introduced H.R. 5075, the Airplane Impacts Mitigation (AIM) Act of 2016.  As residents of communities surrounding airports face increasing levels and durations of airplane noise, the AIM Act will examine the health impacts of airplane overflights on local communities.  The AIM Act will ensure that strong, independent research into the health impacts of prolonged exposure to airplane noise and emissions is available to inform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies and decision-making going forward.

With the adoption of the NextGen, GPS-based navigation system, hundreds of flights per day are guided with laser-like precision over a narrow flight path.  While the RNAV procedures of the NextGen system can increase efficiency, the neighborhoods lying beneath flight paths can experience extended periods of aircraft noise and exposure to air pollutants, raising health implications and negatively impacting the quality of life for local families.

“The AIM Act will ensure that we take all airplane-related health impacts into consideration as Congress and the FAA review ways to improve flight path policies.  Every day, I hear from families in Milton, Hull, South Boston, and other communities in the 8th District about the disproportionate burden of airplane traffic and the negative health and quality of life implications the noise and emissions have on their daily life,” said Congressman Lynch.  “Local communities need to be heard and our federal agencies must be held accountable.  This study is an important step forward on the road to a healthier environment for the people who live and work near Logan Airport and other international airports around the country.” 

H.R. 5075, the Airplane Impacts Mitigation (AIM) Act of 2016 has 16 original cosponsors including Congressman Michael E. Capuano (MA-07), Congresswoman Katherine M. Clark (MA-05), Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14), Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Congressman Sam Farr (CA-20), Congressman Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-09), Congressman Steve Israel (NY-03), Congressman Daniel Lipinski (IL-03), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05), Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Congresswoman Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-09), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14).

“With new navigation technologies narrowing flight paths, there has been woefully inadequate attention paid to the impact of those flights on our neighborhoods. Too many of my constituents in every community I represent are enduring increased noise and pollution, with little relief in sight. This legislation will examine the health impacts of living under these flight paths and is an important step in addressing the disproportionate burden many of our communities are struggling with,” said Congressman Capuano.

“I’ve always said our airports will never be perfect neighbors, but we can help make them better ones,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus and whose district includes LaGuardia Airport. “There is no question that the deafening noise pollution plaguing communities around airports has an adverse impact on our constituents’ health and well-being. And, the more we know about a problem, the better placed we’ll be to find solutions. This legislation will go a long way in giving us the information we need to help people whose lives are disrupted by the roar of airplanes.  I’m proud to join Congressman Lynch and my colleagues in this effort.”

“New flight paths implemented under the FAA’s NextGen program have generated alarming and untenable increases in noise impacts across my entire Congressional District. I consistently hear from constituents who are impacted daily and are concerned about air pollution and other health impacts of airplane overflights,” said Congresswoman Eshoo.  “This legislation goes to the heart of this issue, ensuring there will be scientific data developed and measured to assess the NextGen program and its effect on my constituents.”

“The sudden increase in airplane noise has harmed the quality of life for folks in my district.  We need to have a better understanding of the health effects of this increased noise as we continue to look for ways to remove it from our skies,” said Congressman Farr.

“People living near airports in Phoenix and across the country know far too well that flight path changes instituted by the FAA have meant more noise and a lower quality of life.  But they deserve to know whether the incessant noise could also have an impact on their health.  I’m proud to co-sponsor Congressman Lynch’s bill, which will help answer some of our questions about the long-term effects that aircraft noise could have on the people who live in affected communities,” said Congressman Gallego.

“The FAA must determine what health effects airplane noise has on communities, including those in my district in Nassau and Queens.  I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation that will require the FAA to engage public health experts on prolonged exposure to airplane noise that my constituents experience every day.  This will ensure Congress has the evidence it needs to work with the FAA to improve the process for determining flight paths,” said Congressman Israel.

“Having grown up less than a mile from Midway Airport in Chicago, I know that airplane noise can be extremely frustrating,” Congressman Lipinski said.  “With new flight paths having been implemented into and out of Midway and other airports, the AIM Act is critical in helping us address the impact of these changes on people who live and work near our busy airports.” 

“The barrage of increased airplane noise over my district in Queens, New York continues to negatively impact the quality of life of many of my constituents,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), a founder and Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus.  “I have spearheaded and supported numerous initiatives to combat this problem and I’m pleased to back Congressman Lynch’s legislation as well.  Examining the health impacts of flight paths is an important component in our fight to reduce noise and hold the FAA accountable.”

“I did not realize when we began our efforts against outrageous in the nation’s capital that so many other Americans in states and cities across the United States were also having their sleep disrupted and suffering inevitable impacts related to their health,” said Congresswoman Norton.  “This bill, introduced by many of our colleagues in the Quiet Skies Caucus, nationalizes the health issues that arise from runaway airplane noise and gets us closer to remedies for local communities.”

“My constituents back home in Chicago are facing unprecedented noise pollution that is eroding their quality of life, lowering their property values, and impacting their health,” said Congressman Quigley.  “I’ve been working hard to explore solutions to mitigate noise for the sake of public health at the local level as well as at the national level with my colleagues in the Quiet Skies Caucus, and I’m proud to join Congressman Lynch in introducing the Airplane Impacts Mitigation Act.  The more we understand the effects aircraft noise is having on public health, the better suited we are to enact practical and effective solutions to protect our constituents from the damaging effects.”

“The health of those who live under constant bombardment of airplane noise and pollution is being seriously compromised.  By requiring an independent study of this insidious problem, this bill takes an important step forward in understanding how to protect vulnerable communities,” said Congresswoman Speier.

In particular, the AIM Act requires the FAA Administrator to enter into an agreement with a school of public health to conduct a study of the health impacts of airplane flights on residents exposed to a range of noise and air pollution levels from such flights, including asthma exacerbation, sleep disturbance, stress, and elevated blood pressure.

The study will focus on residents living partly or wholly within the land area underneath the flight paths most frequently used by aircraft flying including during takeoff or landing at an altitude lower than 10,000 feet.  It will consider only those health impacts that manifest during the physical implementation of the NextGen RNAV program.

In addition, the AIM Act mandates that the study will focus on residents in Boston, Chicago, New York, the Northern California Metroplex region, Phoenix, and up to three additional cities.  These five areas have noticed a distinct change in flight paths and sharp shifts in airplane noise as a result of the NextGen flight system.

The Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus seeks to raise awareness of the impact of aircraft noise, hold the FAA accountable to the concerns of local communities, and find meaningful legislative and administrative solutions to reduce airplane noise.  The caucus consists of members of Congress from across the country whose constituents are severely impacted by the FAA’s NextGen flight system. 

Congressman Lynch and the members of the Quiet Skies Caucus are strong advocates for robust community engagement between the FAA and communities surrounding local airports.  In December of 2015, Congressman Lynch held a public forum with representatives from the FAA, Massport, and other local elected officials in order to provide concerned residents with an in person opportunity to be heard.  Nearly 600 people attended the three and half hour public forum in Milton to share the impact that concentrated airplane flight paths have on their daily lives. 

The text of H.R. 5075, the Airplane Impacts Mitigation (AIM) Act of 2016, is available here.