A Colorado congressman has drafted a bill that would permit general aviation airports to impose a range of operational restrictions—such as type of aircraft that can use their facilities—in response to local noise concerns. Offered by Rep. Joe Neguse (D), the Aircraft Noise Reduction Act is the latest introduced in recent months designed to facilitate local control over operational restrictions with others focused on helicopters and air tours.
The Neguse bill would provide the authority for small airports to set curfews and limit the number and types of aircraft that can operate at their facilities. It also would prohibit the FAA from withholding federal funds from airports that choose to regulate aircraft noise.
Neguse pointed to a lengthy and difficult approval process that airports must undergo to impose such restrictions and noted few airports are able to impose them successfully. Congress approved the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 that required airports to undertake a comprehensive Part 161 study to justify the need for additional operational restrictions beyond nationally established standards.
That bill was passed to ensure a cohesive national approach to aviation noise regulation. In addition, most federal airports are bound by grant assurance agreements to make the facilities available on reasonable terms without unjust discrimination.
“Ensuring our local airports can effectively regulate aircraft noise pollution based on what works for them and their community is essential to promote the health and well-being of our communities,” Neguse said. “This legislation is the result of months of conversations with community members and local leaders from Boulder County, Superior, Louisville, Lafayette, Nederland, and elsewhere.”
Local leaders in Colorado gave their strong backing to the legislation. “The town of Superior enthusiastically supports the legislation proposed by Rep. Neguse that will provide airports with meaningful tools to address community concerns about noise and environmental impacts,” said Superior mayor Clint Folsom. “As city leaders, we are very appreciative of efforts to allow our local residents and businesses to help determine the solutions for reducing noise pollution that best suit their needs,” added Boulder mayor Sam Weaver.
“Airport noise is a major concern that is continuing to escalate in the city of Louisville,” Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann further said. “It’s a problem that requires federal aid to solve, and we are therefore so appreciative for Congressman Joe Neguse’s support and willingness to work with us and surrounding communities to tackle this challenging issue.”
The ability for local regulation over aircraft noise has been a recurring theme on Capitol Hill, but a series of recently introduced bills drew such consternation from industry that a half-dozen business and general aviation and helicopter organizations wrote lawmakers expressing concerns that they would upend the current regulatory model.
Those bills seek to ban helicopters over New York City, prohibit air tours over national parks and other areas of interest, and enable local leaders to impose their own restrictions on drone operations.