WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) and Massachusetts State Representative Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton) sat down in Washington, D.C. with Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael P. Huerta to discuss community concerns about the increase in airplane noise as a result of the NextGen, GPS-based navigation plan. The GPS-based flight system prioritizes efficiency, often at the expense of communities, by allowing negligible deviation from the flight path resulting in more planes over fewer communities.
Congressman Lynch and State Representative Timilty have worked closely with residents and local elected officials to communicate concerns about the disproportionate burden on communities from the new flight paths. Since 2014, Congressman Lynch and State Representative Timilty have called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to meet directly with concerned residents. While the FAA has been open to meeting with elected officials, requests for constituent meetings have been repeatedly denied. This week’s meeting signaled progress on the effort. The FAA agreed to participate in a community forum in Milton for all affected communities to discuss the impacts of airplane noise. They also heard concerns about violations of speed and altitude mitigation, which are in place to minimize noise. Separately, the FAA has begun to examine the metric of how to measure average Decibel Noise Level (DBL).
“I do appreciate that Administrator Huerta met with us and that Rep. Timilty flew down to D.C. to emphasize the local impact that these flights are having in Milton and other towns in the South Shore as well as neighborhoods in Boston,” said Congressman Lynch. “I think we accomplished at least three things. One, we definitely expressed the painful frustration that we've had with the FAA's lack of responsiveness so far. Secondly, I think we accurately described the situation that the NextGen/RNav system has created where hundreds of flights per day are concentrated over a narrow corridor that passes directly over Milton and adjacent towns and neighborhoods and the negative quality of life and health impacts that this has had. And lastly, we persuaded Administrator Huerta that we need a face-to-face meeting in Milton with FAA officials so that the people who are being impacted the most have the opportunity to be heard and that together we can come up with a solution. We were assured that a meeting in Milton will happen soon.”
“The flight plans that have been foisted upon Milton, as a result of the NextGen, GPS-based navigation plan, are immensely inequitable. The citizens of Milton have been severely affected by this configuration,” said State Representative Timilty. “Following our meeting with Administrator Huerta, it is my wish that the FAA will, going forward, engage in a continuous dialogue with the citizens of Milton, resulting in a far more equitable distribution of flight paths.”
As a member of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, Congressman Lynch has worked alongside his colleagues in the House to request that the FAA reauthorization bill include robust community engagement, additional metrics on the impact of airplane noise, and independent research on the health impact of airplane noise. The full text of the letter is available here.
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