When people buy homes, they generally know they are doing so near an airport and planes are noisy. Although the FAA does change approach paths — indeed, they’ve been working towards more direct and fuel efficient landing routes which are better for airline economics and ticket prices, and better for the environment, but potentially generating more complaints from residents surrounding airports.
Planes are far quieter than they were decades ago, but there are more noise complaints also.
Copyright: carlosyudica / 123RF Stock Photo
It turns out that in many cases what seem like tremendous volume of complaints are actually just complaints by a small number of people. (.pdf)
- San Francisco’s airport receives a large number of noice complaints, but it helps to have some context: “three residents of Daly City placed 1,034 calls in December 2015, and six Woodside callers complained 2,432 times in November.”
- One resident in Northwest DC accounted for 6852 of 8760 (78%) of noise complaints about Washington National airport in 2015.
- One person 30 miles away accounted for 3555 of 4870 (73%) of noise complaints about Denver airport. 4 people accounted for 96% of complaints in 2015.
- One person 11 miles away accounted for 1024 of 1223 (84%) of noise complaints about Washington Dulles airport in 2015.
- Looking only at June 2015 data, 1 person accounted for 50% and 3 people accounted for 88% of noise complaints about LAX.
Noise complaints are a tool for stopping development, or extracting things from airlines and municipalities in exchange for allowing development to proceed. Large numbers of noise complaints make it seem like the public is up in arms, and that voters will come out against politicians who permit runway expansion, growth in air travel, or fuel efficient landing patterns.
So this is an interesting dig into the available data on noise complaints, suggesting that there may not be as many outraged citizens as airport complaint logs would first appear to suggest.