DC Fair Skies
CAG is a member of the Washington, DC Fair Skies Coalition. The DC Fair Skies Coalition is a group of citizen associations in the Washington, DC area who are working to make sure we all have a say on issues that impact airplane noise, air pollution, and flight safety in our neighborhoods. Our goal is to require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the federal agency that operates Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) to adopt an approach to aircraft flight management that balances the needs of the traveling airlines, the public, and DC area residents. Our objective is a plan that minimizes aircraft noise in residential neighborhoods to the maximum extent feasible, especially at night, in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
Why Should You Care?
- Sleep disruption, stress, and exposure to pollutants such as carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons from aircraft exhaust emissions that undergo chemical changes in sunlight degrade your health.
- Decreased ability to concentrate for learning purposes degrades children’s education.
- Reduced ability to enjoy the outdoors degrades your quality of life.
- Constant noise degrades your property values.
Stating Our Case
Residents of communities near the Potomac including Georgetown are increasingly subjected to excessive aircraft noise, eroding the quality of life and damaging property values. In Spring 2015, the FAA authorized a new northern flight path called LAZIR that brings planes over Georgetown and Georgetown University and nearby communities including Foggy Bottom, Foxhall, Hillandale, Burleith, Colony Hill and Palisades as early as 5 am and well after midnight. The number of flights has also increased. The resulting significant increase in aircraft noise is disruptive to the peace and quiet of all residents near the new flight path.
As a result of residents’ growing frustration with this nightly elevation in noise levels, in August 2015, Citizens Association of Georgetown and the other communities near the Potomac River, joined by Georgetown University, filed a Petition for Review of the new flight path with the DC Federal Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the new northern route as unlawful. The CAG vs FAA, DC Cir Case No. 15-1285. The Petitioners also formed the DC Fair Skies Coalition to pursue aircraft noise mitigation and filed a formal petition with the FAA seeking relief from the aircraft noise this new route has caused. Not only are residents seeking relief from this noise, but Mayor Bowser, City Councilman Jack Evans and all at large Council members declared their support for an immediate change to this flight path and co-signed the petition. (You can review the appendix here.)
The Coalition had hoped to come to a settlement with the FAA via mediation but unfortunately mediation failed. As a result, the Coalition filed its Opening Brief with the Court of Appeals. (You can view the brief at DCFairSkies). The brief argues that the FAA improperly instituted LAZIR without the required environmental review of noise impacts and did so without any notice to the impacted communities or their elected representatives. The brief explains why an environmental review of LAZIR is required and was not performed and seeks a Court order requiring the FAA to revert to the former flight path for northern departures until the required review is performed.
In May 2017 the Coalition filed its reply brief, lambasting the FAA (click here to read the brief). The brief argues that the FAA improperly instituted the flight path without the required environmental review of noise impacts and did so without any notice to the impacted communities or their elected representatives. The brief explains why an environmental review of the flight path is required and was not performed and seeks a Court order requiring the FAA to revert to the former flight path for northern departures until the required review is performed
What Can You Do To Help?
REPORT THE FLIGHT If there is a particularly noisy flight, especially early in the morning or late at night, please report it. Our case will be strengthened with more reports.
The complaint form can be found at: DCA Reagan National’s website
The “Noise Information Office” can also be contacted at 703-417-1204.
If you want to see and provide detailed information on the planes that bothered you, go to the DCA webtracker that provides real time flight data to and from DCA on a one hour delayed basis: WebTrak for DCA
The tracker provides data on flight path, airline, type of plane, altitude as it passes Georgetown, and the noise registered at the ground near Visitation School in West Georgetown. Anything over 65 dBA is loud and can be heard all the way to Rock Creek park. You can rewind the flight information to a particular past time period, You can also link directly to the complaint form from the flight tracker.