Aircraft Noise Abatement Act (1968) (49 U.S.C. 44715). Requires the FAA to establish noise standards through consultation with the EPA, and to apply them in connection with issuance of civil aircraft certificates.
Airport and Airway Improvement Act (1982) (49 U.S.C. 47101 - 47131, which comprises subchapter I, chapter 471, in title 49, Transportation; subtitle VII, Aviation Programs; part B, Airport Development and Noise).
Airport Noise and Capacity Act (1990) (49 U.S.C. 47521 - 47533, which comprises subchapter II "National Aviation Noise Policy", chapter 475, in title 49, Transportation; subtitle VII, Aviation Programs; part B, Airport Development and Noise). ANCA mandates that the U.S. air fleet convert to "stage 3" aircraft by Jan. 1, 2000. It permits citizen suits against the FAA "where there is alleged a failure of [the FAA] to perform any act or duty under section 1431 of Title 49 which is not discretionary...." For an example of such a suit see Alvarado v. Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. The FAA issued rules implementing ANCA in Part 161 of its regulations (see Regulations below).
Airport Noise, a discussion of ANCA and international legislative efforts to control aircraft noise (from the Trade and Environmental Data Base, May 2, 1996).
Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act (1979) (49 U.S.C. 47501 - 47510, which comprises subchapter I "Noise Abatement", chapter 475, in title 49, Transportation; subtitle VII, Aviation Programs; part B, Airport Development and Noise). Grants authority to the Federal Aviation Administration to issue regulations on "air noise compatibility planning". These regulations are published in 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 150. The Act is evaluated in detail in "The 1980 Airport Noise Act: Noise Abatement or Just More Noise?" by Kathryn Landreth, Univ. California Davis Law Review. 14:1049-1079 (1981), and in Rockett, Robert J. Comment, "Airport Noise: Did the Airport Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979 Solve the Problem?" by Robert J. Rockett, Journal of Air Law and Commerce 52:499-527 (winter 1986).
National Environmental Policy Act (1969) (42 U.S.C 4321-4345). The first comprehensive federal legislation on environmental policy and programs; created the Environmental Protection Agency. It has been amended repeatedly since 1969 to refine policy and create new programs.
National Parks Air Tour Management Act (2000, Title VIII of Pub.L. 106-81). This Act was part of HR 2000, a complex bill covering a variety of aviation matters. It creates a plan for limiting and managing commercial air tours over national parks, but gives the FAA, rather than the National Park Service, decisive authority to deal with the problem of noise in national parks created by such aircraft (particularly helicopters). It was a follow-up to the National Parks Overflight Act of 1987.
National Parks Overflights Act (1987, Public Law 100-91) (16 U.S.C. 1a-1 note (1992)). The Act required a variety of studies of noise in national parks created by overflights, as well as a National Park Service report to the Congress, which was issued in July 1995: Report on the Effects of Aircraft Overflights on the National Parks System. The Act also required the FAA to develop plan for the management of air traffic in the air space above the Grand Canyon in order to substantially restore the natural quiet of the park. The FAA's plan has been the subject of two lawsuits:
Noise Control Act (1972) (42 U.S.C. 4901 - 4918 and 49 U.S.C. 44715). This Act was passed after receiving a report from the newly created Office of Noise Abatement and Control in the Environmental Protection Agency (see Noise Pollution and Abatement Act of 1970). See Legislative History of the Noise Control Act of 1972, Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, July 1974. The NCA amended the Federal Aviation Act to specifically involve the EPA in the regulation of airport noise. It states in part:
"Each Federal agency shall consult with the Administrator in prescribing standards or regulations respecting noise. If at any time the Administrator has reason to believe that a standard or regulation, or any proposed standard or regulation, of any Federal agency respecting noise does not protect the public health and welfare to the extent he believes to be required and feasible, he may request such agency to review and report to him on the advisability of revising such standard or regulation to provide such protection."
California Environmental Quality Act (Public Resources Code 21000 et seq.)
Miscellaneous Noise Control (1995) (Health and Safety Code 118825 - 118830) prohibits take-off and landing of aircraft that produce noise in excess of limits for subsonic jet transport aircraft set in the Code of Federal Regulations, title 14, part 36.
State Aeronautics Act (1953) (Public Utilities Code 21001 et seq.) The purposes of the act are stated in Section 21002. And see section 21652, which grants cities, counties, and airport districts the authority to purchase "avigation" easements. Such easements give airports the right to impose on the burdened property "excessive noise, vibration, discomfort, inconvenience, ... and ... reduction in market value due to the operation of aircraft to and from the airport."
TipSearch and retrieve text of Code of Federal Regulations at CFR. Regulations issued by the Federal Aviation Administration are contained in title 14 of the CFR. FAA regulations are available on the Web at FAR text or FAR archive. Like all federal agencies the Department of Transportation has established a program of periodic review of its regulations -- see Department of Transportation Unified Agenda and FAA Regulatory Review Program. FAA Advisory Circulars are advisory only; they are not binding on the public.
Airport Environmental Handbook (Federal Aviation Administration, April 2006, Order 5050.4B) Discusses how airports should prepare environmental impact statements.
Airport Noise Compatibility Planning (14 CFR Part 150) -- Part 150 implements provisions of the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979 that authorize federal funds to airports for expansion and development. Part 150 allows airports to apply for federal funding to implement noise mitigation measures including residential soundproofing and acquisition of noise-sensitive land around airports. A Part 150 plan can also include recommendations for development near airports. The rules prescribe the procedures, standards, and methodology for the development, submission, and review of airport noise exposure maps and airport noise compatibility programs required when airports apply for federal funds. For guidance on Part 150 studies as well as the status of FAA programs funded under 14 CFR Part 150, see Airport Land Use Compatibility Planning at the FAA website. Also see the following documents:
Classroom Acoustics -- proposed standard on classroom acoustical design. (Response by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to request for comments, Federal Register, Nov. 8, 1999.)
Land Acquisition and Relocation Assistance for Airport Improvement Program Projects (FAA Advisory Circular 150/5100-7)
Letters of Agreement (Sec. 3 of FAA Order 7210.3P) -- An airport can request air traffic control measures to reduce aircraft noise. If the FAA agrees, the FAA and the airport should sign an LOA to document the measures.
Notice and Approval of Airport Noise and Access Restrictions (14 CFR Part 161) -- Part 161 implements the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA). It applies to (1) restrictions on stage-2 aircraft operations proposed after October 1, 1990; (2) restrictions on stage-3 aircraft operations that became effective after October 1, 1990; and (3) amendments to airport noise and access restrictions in effect on October 1, 1990, but amended after that date, where the amendment reduces or limits aircraft operations or affects aircraft safety.
Requirements for Restrictions on Stage-2 Aircraft -- a plain-language summary of the requirements in Part 161 for imposing restrictions on stage-2 aircraft. Unlike restrictions on stage-3 aircraft, the FAA does not have authority under Part 161 to approve or disapprove restrictions on stage-2 aircraft.
Stage-2 Jets Weighing Less Than 75,000 Pounds -- The 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act provided a scheme for phasing out stage-2 aircraft by requiring that eventually all jet aircraft would comply with stage-3 noise standards, but notably the Act did not apply to jet aircraft less than 75,000 pounds. In 2012 that omission was addressed by requiring all such aircraft to comply with stage-3 standards. See U.S. Code §47534 .
Post-ANCA Restrictions on Aircraft Operations by Airports
East Hampton (NY) -- The Town of East Hampton adopted a number of restrictions on use of its airport in order to reduce noise impacts on local residents. The ordinances were challenged by several passenger service operators. The U.S. District Court ruled some of the restrictions lawful and others unlawful. The U.S. Court of Appeal for the 2nd Circuit rules that all of the restrictions were inconsistent with the intent and purpose of ANCA. (See Friends of East Hampton Airport v. Town of East Hampton) The Town of East Hampton filed a petition for review to the U.S. Supreme Court on March 6, 2017; a decision on the writ is pending.
Naples (Florida) -- The Naples Airport banned all stage-2 jets, following the procedure established by Part 161. The FAA then held hearings on whether the ban violated the airport's Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant assurances and, not surprisingly, found that the ban violated the AIP grant assurance that regulation of aircraft operations will not be "unreasonable". Based on this finding the FAA ruled that the airport was ineligible for AIP grants. The airport sought judicial review of the FAA's decision. The court concluded that the airport had introduced ample evidence to justify the ban on stage-2 jets and thus vacated the FAA order. (See Naples Airport Authority v. FAA, 2005, U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit.)
Rules of Practice for Federally Assisted Airport Enforcement Proceedings (14 CFR Part 16) -- Part 16 sets out the rules governing proceedings instituted by the FAA or by a complaint concerning assurances contained in airport property deeds from the U.S. government to local agencies and in FAA grants in aid.
Noise Standards (21 Cal. Code Reg. 5000 et seq.) "The purpose of these regulations is to provide a positive basis to accomplish resolution of existing noise problems in communities surrounding airports and to prevent the development of new noise problems." See Regulation of Noisy Airports in California for a summary of these regulations. The regulations are issued by the Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Program, Office of Technical Services (Bob Moore, chief). For an official statement on the limited utility of these regulations, see Role of the State of California in Airport Noise Abatement.
The Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport lies within the city limits of Blue Ash but is owned by the City of Cincinnati. Out of concern for the noise of aircraft departing the airport, the City of Blue Ash enacted an ordinance requiring pilots departing the airport to make specified turns in order to reduce aircraft noise in residential areas. In United States v. City of Blue Ash (U.S. Ct. So. Dist. Ohio, 1978; 487 F.Supp. 135; aff'd, 6th Cir., April 15, 1980, 621 F.2d 227) the court declared the ordinance invalid because the federal government has preempted the field of regulating aircraft in flight.
Measure A (2001) -- Passed by voters in a special election in October 2001, this initiative requires that a nighttime curfew and cap on flights be imposed at the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport before any expansion of the airport is undertaken. The initiative was declared invalid by a court.
City of Burbank v. Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority -- The City of Burbank, which never opposed the purpose of Measure A, brought this lawsuit because it thought that implementation of the measure was legally problematic.
In 2015 the Town of East Hampton adopted a number of flight restrictions at its airport to curb the noise impacts of traffic from New York City to this wealthy enclave in Long Island . The restrictions were challenged in U.S. District Court (see Court Upholds Curfew for Noisy Aircraft in East Hampton ), the case was appealed, and a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was filed March 6,2017.
HAM LAKE, MINNESOTA
Ordinance Regulating Sites of Operation of Aircraft (2000) -- City adopted an ordinance regulating where helicopters were permitted to land and take off in the city. The ordinance was upheld by a state appellate court, which ruled that the ordinance was not constitutionally void for vagueness and was not preempted by federal regulation of airspace.
City Ordinance 91-16 (July 23, 1991) -- An example of noise regulation based on absolute noise limits (the "single event noise exposure level" or SENEL). (The Santa Monica, California, Airport has a similar regulation.) This ordinance is a revision of a 1975 ordinance, enacted before the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 restricted the ability of airports to adopt noise abatement programs. A lawsuit challenging the 1975 ordinance resulted in the important "proprietor exception" to federal preemption of local regulation of aircraft noise; see National Aviation v. City of Hayward (1976).
Airport Zoning Ordinance (2009) -- City of Hillsboro adopted a new zoning district imposing restrictions on land use and requiring avigation easements for future development in an area near Hillsboro Airport, owned and operated by the Port of Portland. The ordinance was determined to be an unconstitutional taking of property without compensation by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, and the board's decision was upheld by a court of appeals.
City Ordinance 40-6.1 (amended 1996) -- The ordinance bans the use of aircraft for advertising in any way. It was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Skysign Intern., Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu (2002), and again in Center for Bio-Ethical Reform v. City and County of Honolulu (2006). In both cases the court held that federal aviation law did not preempt local ordinances regulating aerial advertising because Congress did not so completely occupy the field of aviation as to preempt the subfield of aerial advertising. (In contrast, see Banner Advertising, Inc. v. City of Boulder (Colorado Supreme Ct., 1994; 868 P.2d 1077). The Banner court found that federal law preempted Boulder's ordinance banning aerial advertising. The Skysign court distinguishes the Banner case; see footnote 6.)
LEE'S SUMMIT, MISSOURI
Proposed city charter amendment (2005) -- Activists put this amendment to a vote by an initiative, which was defeated (56% against) in a special election for which about 20 percent of registered voters turned out. The amendment would have required "any expansion" of the local airport to be approved by voters. A similar measure in Burbank (Calif.), which voters approved, was declared invalid (see above).
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
City of Los Angeles Ordinance: Van Nuys Airport Noise Abatement (August 10, 1981) -- The ordinance establishes a "no flight curfew" for certain types of planes between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.; bans "touch and go" flying between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. from September through June and between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. the rest of the year; establishes a preferential runway for traffic between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.; and prohibits engine maintenance "run ups" between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Measure A (1994) -- Passed by voters in November 1994, this initiative amended the county's general plan to require that the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station "shall be used for a publicly or privately owned and operated airport."
Measure S (1996) -- Defeated by voters in December 1996, this initiative would have repealed Measure A.
Measure F (2000) -- Passed by voters in March 2000, this initiative requires a two-thirds vote of the electorate for approval of any airport projects. The measure was declared invalid by a court. However, because passage of the measure reflected widespread opposition to development of a civilian airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps field, the mere passage of the measure killed any prospect of a civilian airport at the El Toro field.
Measure W (2002) -- Passed by voters in March 2002 (58% county-wide, 87% in southern portion of the county), this initiative repeals Measure A (see above) and amends the county's general plan to designate the former Marine Corps Air Station for use as a park, educational and cultural facilities, and other nonaviation uses.
AOPA Complaint Against Ordinance (April 1, 2004) -- The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn. filed a formal complaint with the FAA, demanding a hearing under 14 C.F.R. Part 16. The complaint alleges that the ordinance does not comply with the conditions under which the airport land was deeded to the city by the U.S. government.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
City Code Chapter 12.03: Airport Curfew (October 21, 2003) -- Prohibits takeoffs or landings within curfew hours by aircraft exceeding an average of 89 decibels. The ordinance was adopted after legal challenges to the city's previous curfew. Under a previous curfew, adopted in 1984 (see below), aircraft were categorized according to both noise level (stage 1 being the noisiest and stage 3 the quietest) and weight (heavier airplanes being defined as "transport aircraft" and lighter airplanes as "non-transport aircraft"), and aircraft operators were classified either as commercial "air carriers" or as non-commercial "general aviation" operators. Whether a particular aircraft was exempt from the curfew or eligible for a waiver of its provisions depended on the interplay of these factors. The 1984 curfew was not only attacked in court but was also the subject of an informal complaint to the FAA filed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The 2003 ordinance was drafted in collaboration with the FAA.
AOPA Complaint Against 1984 Curfew (January 2000) -- This informal complaint alleges that the curfew violated the conditions of FAA's Airport Improvement Program grants to the airport. [Copy not yet recovered.]
Wing and a Prayer, Inc. v. City of San Jose (2001, U.S. District Ct., N.D. Cal., Case No. C 00-20018 JF, unpublished) -- Billionaire Larry Ellison challenged the city's curfew on aircraft weighing more than 75,000 pounds. The judge ruled that the city's curfew did not apply to Ellison's jet, but stopped short of declaring the curfew unlawful. The decision posted here is on motions for interlocutory relief (prior to final judgment). The case was subsequently dismissed per an agreement between the parties, Dec. 18, 2002 (see settlement agreement).
European Union Directive 92/14/EEC (March 2, 1992) -- Bans operation of "stage-2" jet aircraft in the European Community after April 1, 2002. European Union Directive 2002/30/EC (March 26, 2002) -- Establishes rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at airports within the European Community. (File is 120 kB Acrobat PDF.)
Convention on International Civil Aviation -- Annex 16, Vol. 1, Part II, Chapter 4 establishes the most current (as of 2002) noise standards for jet aircraft engines. (The annexes to the Convention are available at the International Civil Aviation Organization e-Shop by subscription only. So much for free public access to documents prepared in the name of the public.)
33rd ICAO Assembly Resolution A33/7 -- Establishes a "balanced approach" to noise management, including four elements: (1) reduction of aircraft noise at the source, (2) land-use planning and management measures, (3) operational procedures, and (4) operating restrictions. (To get the text of Resolution A33-7, go to the ICAO website, find the page for the 33d Assembly, then click on "Resolutions".)
California Attorney General's Opinion, 69-216, 53 Op.Atty.Gen. 75 (1970). Opinion includes: (1) The federal government has occupied a portion of but has not preempted the entire field of regulating aircraft-produced community noise and state and local governments may legislate in the field if there is no conflict with federal statutes or regulations. (2) State and local governments which are airport proprietors may regulate aircraft-produced community noise in their capacity as proprietors despite federal statutes or regulations covering the field. (3) State and local governments may regulate aircraft-produced community noise by land use controls such as airport siting and zoning without restriction by the federal government.
California Attorney General's Opinion, 94-903 (1995). Opinion: The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons who have filed noise complaints concerning the operation of a city airport are subject to public disclosure unless the city can establish in the particular circumstances that the public interest served by not making the information public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure. The opinion outlines a balancing test for weighing disclosure versus nondisclosure. (The balancing test was used in 1999 by an appellate court in the case of City of San Jose v. Superior Court (Mercury News). The court concluded that in this case a newspaper was not entitled to learn the identity of complainants.)
California Attorney General's Opinion, 03-805 (2004). Opinion: A county airport land use commission may not exempt a specific plan adopted by a city or county from compliance with the commission’s more stringent compatibility standards for land use, development density, and development intensity in the vicinity of a public use airport. (These commissions were created by the state in part to restrain construction of housing and other noise-sensitive uses near airports.)