Aviation Noise: Measuring Progress in Addressing Community Concerns
2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation.
Opening remarks of Subcommittee on Aviation Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA):
Mr. Chair, thank you for having this hearing today
I think it’s important that we look at data when we are looking at issues like aviation noise. There is a great data set that shows the progress made.
In 1970, there were 7 million people exposed to significant levels of aircraft noise. Yet in 2018, that number dropped to 430,000. Keep in mind Mr. Chair, the number of actual flights increased significantly during that period of time. The good news is that we are moving in the right direction.
Advances in aviation technology have resulted in safer aircraft, quieter aircraft, greater performance, and greater convenience. And as with anything, there are pros and cons, and tradeoffs. As we move forward, we have to make sure that we continue to take into consideration the complaints and concerns raised by those that are affected. But also, we have to take into consideration the benefits of commercial air travel and general aviation that have had a tremendous impact on this country’s growth, convenience, ability to improve quality of life and business, capability to see relatives, and other things.
As we move forward, there have been extraordinary advances in technology. Advanced air mobility and unmanned aviation systems have the ability to continue this incredible trend of dropping the number of noise complaints, improving convenience, improving performance, and providing options for consumers and citizens across the United States.
Mr. Chair, recently the Department of Defense worked with the National Capital Region in evaluating complaints related to aviation noise, specifically looking at helicopters. There were some amazing outcomes in their analysis.
Between January 2018 and August 2021, there were in excess of 6,200 complaints. However, half of them were from the same person. Another 1,218 of the 6,243 total complaints were from another person. In fact, 63 percent of the complaints were from just two people and 89 percent of all of those complaints were from the top 10 sources of complaints. Not to discount anyone’s concerns, but I do think it is important to take those numbers into consideration as we move forward and make sure that we’re solving problems and understanding the gravity of concerns.
Today we have a number of witnesses, but one is the CEO of Joby Aviation, and I look forward to hearing him discuss the opportunities that are going to be available as a result of some of the technologies that they're pioneering. That includes the improved experience for consumers and Americans across the country who will benefit from some of the amazing innovations in advanced air mobility and unmanned systems. Once again, this technology can improve convenience, performance, and safety for American citizens. So, within the realm of the possible and the plausible, I look forward to hearing more about progress achieved, how the future of noise will be much quieter as innovations advance, and how Congress can help ensure additional gains in this area.
Mr. Chair, again I want to thank you for holding the hearing and look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.