Control of Aircraft Noise and Sonic Boom

The provisions pertaining to the issuance of standards and regulations for controlling aircraft noise and sonic boom is cited in 49 USCS § 44715.  Accordingly, in order to relieve and protect the public health and welfare from aircraft noise and sonic boom, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), may prescribe the following[i]:

  • standards to measure aircraft noise and sonic boom; and
  • regulations to control and abate aircraft noise and sonic boom.

 

Subsequently, in Westside Property Owners v. Schlesinger, 597 F.2d 1214 (9th Cir. 1979), the court observed that “49 U.S.C.S. § 1431 provides in part that, in order to afford present and future relief and protection to the public from aircraft noise and sonic boom, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shall prescribe such regulations as the FAA may find necessary to provide for the control and abatement of aircraft noise and sonic boom.”

While prescribing standards or regulations relating to aircraft noise and boom, the administrator of FAA may[ii]:

  • consider relevant information pertaining to aircraft noise and sonic boom;
  • consider whether the standard or regulation is consistent with the highest degree of safety in air transportation or air commerce in the public interest;
  • consider whether the standard or regulation is economically reasonable, technologically practicable, and appropriate for the applicable aircraft, aircraft engine, appliance, or certificate[iii];
  • consider the extent to which the standard or regulation will be effective in controlling the aircraft noise and sonic boom; and
  • consult with appropriate departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the U.S. government and state and interstate authorities.

 

However, in matters relating to the environmental effects of aircraft and aircraft engines, the advisory committees or associated working groups that advise the administrator should consist of a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Likewise, standards and regulations relating to aircraft noise and boom must be prescribed by the administrator only after consultation with the administrator of EPA[iv].

The administrator of EPA shall submit to the administrator of FAA proposed regulations to control and abate aircraft noise and sonic boom, which the administrator of EPA considers necessary to protect the public health and welfare.  The administrator of FAA shall consider those proposed regulations and shall publish them in a notice of proposed regulations not later than 30 days after receiving them.  Further, not later than 60 days after publication, the administrator of FAA shall conduct a hearing at which interested persons must be given an opportunity for oral and written presentations.  In addition, not later than 90 days after completing the hearing and after consulting with the administrator of the EPA, the administrator of FAA may[v]:

  • prescribe regulations relating to aircraft noise and boom which is considerably the same as those submitted by the administrator of EPA, or that amend the proposed regulations; or
  • publish in the federal register a notice that no regulation is being prescribed in response to the proposed regulations of the administrator of EPA, a detailed analysis of all information the administrator of EPA has submitted with the proposed regulations; and a detailed explanation of why no regulation is being prescribed.

 

Regardless of the authority to prescribe standards and regulations for controlling aircraft noise and sonic boom, the administrator of FAA also has the discretionary authority to grant exemptions from the requirements of FAA regulations if s/he finds that such action would be in the public interest[vi].

Apart from the administrator of FAA, the secretary of transportation has the authority to establish a national aviation noise policy.  The secretary must require each air carrier and foreign air carrier providing foreign air transportation to comply with noise standards prescribed by the secretary for new subsonic aircraft, or that of the International Civil Aviation Organization[vii].

[i] 49 USCS § 44715(a)(1)(A).

[ii] 49 USCS § 44715(b).

[iii] Opinion of Justices, 359 Mass. 778 (Mass. 1971).

[iv] 49 USCS § 44715(a)(2).

[v] 49 USCS § 44715(c).

[vi] Starr v. Federal Aviation Admin., 589 F.2d 307 (7th Cir. 1978).

[vii] 49 USCS § 47508.


Inside Control of Aircraft Noise and Sonic Boom