Residents seek solution to end unbearable noise pollution caused by planes flying to DC airport

A change to flight paths for aircrafts traveling in and out of Reagan National Airport is driving thousands of homeowners crazy. They say the noise pollution has become unbearable.

The Persimmon Tree neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland, is just one of the 20 communities impacted by the aircrafts that go roaring by every day. These residents have been dealing with this ever since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented more precise navigation to keep planes on course. That new flight path also means planes are flying lower to conserve fuel.

The Montgomery County Quiet Skies Coalition is working to get these flight paths to and from Reagan National Airport changed. One of its members, Bill Noonan, wears noise canceling headphones while at home to drown out the noise from the planes. He said there is an airplane flying over his home every two to three minutes - or more than 400 flights a day.

"I can no longer sleep in my bedroom," he said. "It's too noisy up here so I have moved into the basement. The noise has to go somewhere, but it was a burden that used to be shared. Now it's not being shared. It's just being heaped onto a couple of communities and that is not right, so we are trying to get the FAA to do that."

Noonan said since 2016, the coalition has made 11 recommendations to the FAA, but none have been acted on. He said they have been getting more cooperation from the FAA lately. But to really have a seat at the table to hammer out a new flight path design, he said they need an expert on their side.

The coalition recently went before the Montgomery County Council asking for the cost for an airspace expert to be added to the budget. The council president has also requested $150,000 to be added to the operating budget to make this happen.

"Raising altitudes, alternating procedures are options that airspace consultants could also help us evaluate," said Janelle Wright of the Montgomery County Quiet Skies Coalition. "Our coalition is fighting to save our health, our savings, our schools, our communities and our very quality of life. We desperately need Montgomery County to step up and help."

The coalition is in a waiting period as the council reviews the request, but they are hopeful this will result in the FAA taking action.