"#1 constituent complaint": DoD to try and reduce helicopter noise over Northern Virginia homes

Is helicopter and airplane noise ruining the quality of life for Northern Virginia residents? Some say it is.

After receiving several complaints, the Department of Defense is now looking at noise mitigation strategies. Here is the full report: 

The Department of Defense did a study on helicopter noise and the Pentagon says they will try to do something about it – although they admit it will be difficult. People have been complaining about the noise for years so here’s Representative Don Beyer explaining what has taken so long to get to this point.

 "Helicopter noise and airplane noise has been the #1 constituent complaint since I’ve been in office. It’s been difficult to make progress because safety concerns are always going to be the FAA’s #1 priority," said Beyer.

Representative Don Beyer said now the department of defense is doing the most they ever have to help mitigate the noise.

One recommendation is to allow helicopters to fly at higher altitudes. Right now, they can fly at 500 feet above sea level, but some neighborhoods aren’t at sea level meaning the planes may only be 200 or 300 feet above their home. 

The DoD is also creating a portal to track and analyze noise complaints to identify potential trends and problem areas. Finally, the DOD will work with the army and marine corps to ensure "fly friendly" policies are put in place. While many in the community say the noise is a nuisance and terrible, others say they’ve become accustomed to it.

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"The recommendations in this report reflect priorities my constituents have sought for years to reduce helicopter noise in Northern Virginia, and would make a real difference across the region," said Beyer. "In particular, the commitment from DoD to study the possibility of increasing altitudes of helicopter routes would be a real game-changer. The other action items would further help reduce noise and boost transparency and engagement with the community. I thank the Department of Defense for undertaking and releasing this report, and urge the rapid implementation of these recommendations."

Many Shirlington residents tell FOX 5 they have become accustomed to the noise.

 "I don’t really pay attention to it honestly. It’s kind of like hearing a car go by," said Dez Williams, Arlington Resident.

"It’s just the way it is around here. I mean it’s the nation’s capital. The pentagon is here, the president is over there," said Marsha Kohn, Arlington Resident. "We’re not living in a small town in North Carolina. It is what it is."

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Others say it is terrible – keeping them up at night and interfering with day-to-day activities.

"Normally you see it and hear it five times a day. I work close by and they fly low as well so you’re looking around like ‘what’s happening’? It’s alarming," said Dionne Williams, another Arlington neighbor.

"Sometimes at night when I’m talking to a friend on the telephone I’ve actually had to plus one ear because the helicopters are circling overhead. They’re in some holding pattern and it can make a lot of noise," resident Alan Kovski said. 

 Representative Don Beyer said the next step in this process is making sure that airplanes coming and going from national airports stay over the rivers and not over the neighborhoods.