Skies Should Get A Little Quieter for the Airport Neighbors Next Door

FAA Reauthorization Brings Long-Awaited Phase-Out of Noisy Aircraft

(Aspen, CO) The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport was one of dozens of airports across the nation to rally in support of the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658) that will, among other things, help make airports quieter. The Reform Act was signed into law earlier this week. This is good news for communities with airports across the nation including Aspen and Pitkin County.

“The neighbors of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport appreciate Congress eliminating the loudest and most impactful aircraft still flying. It will be welcome news to improving the quality of life for our citizens who have waited a very long time to see these aircraft be phased out from our skies," said Director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, Jim Elwood.

The Modernization and Reform Act authorizes $63 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it also includes a long-sought after provision to phase out older, noisier jets that were exempt from a law Congress passed more than 20 years ago.  The new law takes effect December 31, 2015.

Since 2004, the effort to eliminate the exemption was championed by a coalition of airport managers and neighbors where the older aircraft accounted for an inordinate number of noise complaints.

“We’ve had this problem on our radar for a long time,” said Chairman of the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners and Woody Creek resident, Michael Owsley.” Most of the noise complaints we’ve gotten over the years were from so-called Stage 2 aircraft. They’re the corporate jets that are loud enough that  you have to stop your conversation on the patio of the Woody Creek Tavern or in the North 40 neighborhood. The passage of this new law eliminates that type of aircraft over the next three years,” Owsley said.

“Managers of airports across the country wanted Congress to help us respond to the concerns of our neighbors,” said Bob Bogan, Deputy Executive Director at Morristown Municipal Airport, a founding airport member of Sound Initiative: A Coalition for Quieter Skies.  We asked Congress to finish what it began in 1990.”

Airports accepting government funding for airport improvement projects are bound by regulations requiring that they be open and accessible to all aircraft that can safely operate to and from the facility, regardless of whether they meet new, modern noise standards.  This law gives aircraft operators of what FAA registration records indicate are over 850 Stage 2 aircraft until the end of 2015 to modify their aircraft to meet the new standards or discontinue use of the aircraft in U.S. airspace.  The result should be fewer noise-related complaints.

Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2012