Congresswoman Speier recognizes that in order to thoroughly address the problem of airplane noise, several underlying issues, such as the 65 day-night average sound level (DNL) noise standard, must first be addressed. The noise standard determines which communities are impacted by airplane noise and consequently, which communities qualify for federal resources for noise abatement, like home insulation. After hearing from residents across San Francisco and the peninsula, it became apparent to Congresswoman Speier that the number and location of residents impacted by noise far exceeded the boundary of the 65 DNL noise standard.

As a result, Congresswoman Speier and her colleagues requested the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct a Noise Annoyance Survey in order to update information on aircraft noise and its impacts on surrounding communities. This is critical not only for noise mitigation for homes, but also sets certain standards in the process of approving new flight plans. After years of waiting, the FAA finally released the results of this survey, now re-branded as the Neighborhood Environmental Survey (NES).


Statement from Congresswoman Speier to House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, March 30, 2022, and comments from the public in California Congressional District 14 about noise and its community impacts


Though the FAA Noise Annoyance Survey launched in 2015 and was expected to be released within two years, communities waited years for this report and the results show what so many residents already knew to be true: there’s been a substantial increase in the number of Americans who are highly annoyed by aircraft noise.

It’s shameful that the FAA under the Trump Administration had this data for years and attempted to bury it. The FAA has the data and it’s time for them to modify noise standards to respect not only the annoyance created but also the serious health impacts caused by this noise.

These survey results contradict the report FAA provided to Congress in April of 2020, which utterly failed to thoroughly evaluate alternative noise metrics to the DNL. In March, I joined the Quiet Skies Caucus in sending a letter to Administrator Dickson outlining these concerns and others. A copy of the letter can be found here.