The FAA released a bombshell study: Five times as many people suffer from high aircraft noise

FAA requests Public Comment by next Monday, March 15

1. A newly released FAA study indicates that five times as many people are suffering from high aircraft noise than the FAA and Air Force previously revealed. Based on this finding, the FAA is seeking public comment before initiating review of its current 65 decibel DNL noise standard for airports and considering future FAA noise initiatives to reduce public exposure to aircraft noise.

The public comment period, that ends next Monday, March 15, offers supporters of the military-industrial complex, the chief promoter of aircraft noise in densely populated areas, the opportunity to disparage the newly released study results.

But the public comment period also offers members of the public the chance to counter that by describing their own experiences with such high-noise aircraft as the F-35. And by stating that the public is increasingly aware that repeated exposure to high aircraft noise levels can cause permanent hearing damage, learning difficulties for children—including lower reading scores, degraded problem solving ability, reduced concentration and impaired memory—and accelerated cognitive decline for older adults, as well as cardiovascular problems. The experience of people actually exposed to such high aircraft noise along with the science, much of it reported by the US Air Force itself, offer the best explanation for the surprisingly high severe annoyance level found by the FAA in the new report.

The 50 year old FAA data from the 1970’s, that up to now has been relied upon by the FAA, showed that just 12.3% of people living in the 65 decibel average noise zone were “severely annoyed.” Based on more recent carefully controlled surveys, the newly released FAA data shows that over 60% of those people are severely annoyed by aircraft noise, that severe annoyance extends to much lower aircraft noise levels, and that all noise levels show a similar shockingly high increase in severe annoyance.

In particular, the new data shows that even at an average aircraft noise level of 55 decibels, over 30% of people are severely annoyed and at an average noise level of 50 decibels, the number severely annoyed is still about 20%.

Here are the dose-response graphs showing the old, and now outdated "Schultz Curve" data from the 1970s and the new "National Curve" data compared, as copied from the FAA website.

50 year old FAA Severe Annoyance data. . . . . NEW FAA Severe Annoyance data

Specifically, the sharp increase in severe annoyance shown at each noise level means that about 5 times as many people in the Burlington area are being "severely annoyed" by F-35 training flights than the Air Force revealed in its 2013 F-35 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS volume II p. C-10). And that the high level of severe annoyance extends far outside the contour lines shown on the Air Force and airport noise exposure maps.

Interestingly, the FAA conducted its surveys for the new study in the 2016 to 2017 timeframe, long before the first F-35 jet arrived in Burlington. But the FAA kept the results under wraps till now and only released them in response to a congressional mandate. No adequate explanation for the delayed release was offered by the FAA during its 2-hour webinar describing the new results.

The results mean that if you are finding yourself severely annoyed, in pain, injured, or distressed from the noise of the F-35, you are not alone. In fact, you are part of a large majority of the people suffering from exposure to the hundreds of extreme 115 decibel F-35 takeoffs and landings at BTV each month. 

2. FAA public comment period.
The FAA is seeking public comment not just from industry insiders and promoters of the military industrial complex but also from people exposed to high aircraft noise, including military jet noise. The Deadline is Monday, March 15. Just 7 days from now. Full information about FAA’s new results and the public comment period is available on this FAA page. After reviewing that page click here to go directly to the page for public comment (or click the blue button at the bottom of the FAA page, then the green button on the page you reach).

The FAA invites members of the public to write about your exposure to the F-35. Describe your experience from the F-35 in your own words. But do not pull punches. Include descriptions of the effects on you and your children. Describe your experience as fully and as accurately as you can. Feel free to include words like pain, injury, fear, worry, anxiety, distress, palpitations, ringing in ears, hearing damage, intense vibration inside your body, shaking walls.

Also give your thoughts to help the FAA understand its new finding of a vast increase in reports of “severe annoyance” by people exposed to all levels of aircraft noise. And provide your recommendations for the FAA.

Here are some model recommendations that people suffering from the F-35 can consider drawing from to include or revise as you see fit:

  • The FAA should replace the 65 decibel DNL noise standard with a 50 decibel DNL noise standard for airports.

  • The FAA should consider and add impacts in addition to "severe annoyance." Such as pain, ringing ears, temporary hearing loss, permanent hearing loss, intense vibration inside the body, heart problems, impaired reading, problem solving, concentration, and memory, impaired cognitive development, accelerated cognitive decline, anxiety, distress, fear, suffering, and shaking walls.

  • In addition to the average noise level (DNL), the FAA should include the peak noise level, as the Air Force Environmental Implact Statement says that repeated exposure to military jets at 114 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. The Vermont National Guard stated that its F-35 training flights will subject cities full of Vermonters to repeated exposure to that noise level hundreds of times a month. And the Vermont Guard further stated that it will be using the F-35 afterburner for 5 percent of takeoffs, which can increase peak noise in some populated areas well above the 130 decibel level that the Air Force says can cause “immediate and permanent hearing loss” from a single exposure.

  • The FAA should require airports to disclose the number of children exposed to high aircraft noise, the number of elderly exposed, and the names of schools, including daycare and preschools, exposed to the high aircraft noise.

  • The FAA should order a revision of airport noise exposure maps to include the 50, 55, and 60 decibel contours in addition to the 65, 70, 75, 80, and 85 decibel contours now shown.

  • The FAA should establish a rule barring any FAA funding of any airport where dangerously noisy military jets are permitted to routinely takeoff and land hundreds of times a month in any densely populated location or where the impact is disproportionately on low income and minority populations.

  • The FAA should require posting of warning notices of dangerous F-35 noise and require provision of professional hearing protective equipment at locations on civilian airport grounds where passengers and airport visitors may be exposed to the extreme noise of any high-decibel military jet.

  • The FAA should require comprehensive noise monitoring and tracking in each neighborhood, at each school, and on airports grounds where civilians may be exposed to average noise equaling or exceeding 50 decibels DNL.

If you would like to share your public comment on cancelF35.substack.com please let me know at jolly39@gmail.com, and I will have substack send you an invitation to be a content contributor.