Airplane Noise in Howard County
As most of you are aware by now, Hanover, Elkridge, and Columbia now get the brunt of Runway 28 airplane noise departures from BWI. Elkridge and Hanover are affected by low flying plane arrivals on other runways as well. This is all due to a total revamp of the the way airspace has been handled in the past. The FAA has moved in the greater DC area from a radar based system to a satellite GPS system dubbed Next Gen (affects all airports). The FAA has spent to date about $10 billion and expects to spend about another $30 billion by 2030. BWI had 25 million passengers use its terminal in 2016, Passengers are due to double in the next 10-15 years.
Residents quality of life is being significantly affected by this new noise pollution. The Howard County Council passed legislation in early 2017 authorizing the County to litigate this noise issue after meeting with the FAA and getting no solution. The HCCA testified for this legislation and subsequently County Executive Kittleman signed the legislation. It may be that litigation is our only solution.
So where are we now with potentially solving this issue? We were told by the FAA that they would NOT entertain any solution until a Roundtable was established. The Roundtable members were appointed by both MD General Assembly Senators and Delegates. (We have 3 HCCA members appointed: Howard Johnson, Rusty Toler, and Paul Verchinski). This Roundtable was established in March, 2016 with a Charter adopted and a unanimously passed motion by the Roundtable to have airplane flights revert to pre NextGen flight paths. A Letter to that effect was sent to the FAA from the Roundtable chair. Subsequent to that unanimously passed motion, a letter was sent by the Federal Congressional delegation to the FAA also requesting that flights revert back to pre NexGen vectors. Most recently, Governor Hogan also sent a letter to the FAA requesting that flights revert back to pre NextGen vectors.
I’ve attached the Roundtable minutes for March and April. (May is not currently available, but will post in the future). Everyone on the Roundtable is a volunteer. A few are pilots. For the most part, none of us are aeronautical experts. The FAA has made presentations to the Roundtable and basically their approach is that the Roundtable needs to solve the airplane related noise issue because they issued an Environmental Assessment way back in 2012 on Next Gen (with a Finding of No Significant Impact) and none of these issue were brought up. In other words, the FAA created this problem and now the Roundtable should solve the noise problem for them. NextGen related noise problems are not unique to BWI. Georgetown is litigating, Phoenix, several cities on the west coast, etc.
The Roundtable is having monthly meetings at the MD Aviation Administration offices off West Nursery Road (off the BW Parkway). The next meeting is at 7 PM on June 20. Part of the monthly Agenda includes a citizen speak out on their experience with NextGen. (I encourage residents in Howard County to come and share their observations). Not one person to date has said that the NextGen system is great. In fact, NextGen was sold to the aviation industry on fuel savings. According to the Southwest representative (represents 70% of flights at BWI), SW has not seen fuel savings.
I also encourage you to call the MAA Noise Hotline (410.859-7021) to complain when you are disturbed by airplane noise. (The metric used by the MAA is complaints – so complain often). One individual in Oakland Mills has told me that he is bothered so much by planes at 5 AM that he shifts to sleeping in his basement after 5 AM .
Please feel free to contact me or others that have been appointed to represent your areas. If this noise issue is not resolved soon to residents satisfaction, it will only get worse.