Smith Introduces Legislation to Support Aviation Impacted Communities

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith introduced the Aviation Impacted Communities Act. As airline travel has increased, communities near airports across the country have been experiencing an increased and disproportionate share of noise and other environmental impacts stemming from commercial aviation. This has been the case even as many other areas have experienced reduced overall noise burdens. The concerns of residents of these increasingly impacted areas are not being adequately addressed.

The Aviation Impacted Communities Act seeks to help cities, localities, and neighborhoods to better and more productively engage with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  This legislation would require that the FAA communicate directly with residents and locally nominated leaders on issues of aviation noise and environmental impacts.  Through the creation of community boards, affected areas will more effectively work toward achieving relief from the impacts of civil and commercial aviation.

“The burden of airplane noise and environmental impacts should not fall disproportionately on any single group, neighborhood, or community. The Aviation Impacted Communities Act will help to bring some relief by streamlining the FAA’s engagement processes, allowing residents to bring their concerns directly to the FAA and airport operators, comprehensively assess the effects of aviation in a given area, and seek mitigation for those impacts,”said Congressman Adam Smith. “Community engagement by the FAA on the negative impacts of aviation is long overdue and this legislation will provide a pathway to solutions and much needed relief for my constituents and communities across the country.”

“Rep. Smith’s aviation impacted communities will help our beloved Seattle Beacon Hill neighborhood and other affected neighborhoods.  We are under the flight path.  Airplanes fly over us every 1-3 minutes. 70% of inbound flights go over our heads.  The noise is obnoxious, bad for our health and is disruptive.  We are a poor vulnerable neighborhood and this bill will help relieve this unjust burden,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director, El Centro De La Raza, located in Seattle, Washington. 

The Aviation-Impacted Communities Act comes at a critical time and crossroads for our national aviation system. The Act provides an essential new voice and role for communities that have supported, and have been disparately impacted by, aviation industry growth. By seating impacted communities at the same table with government and industry, the Act provides a meaningful tool-kit for better, balanced, collaborative decision-making that can include noise and emission studies, long-term regional plans for reducing impacts, and expanded eligibility for mitigation.  Quiet Skies Puget Sound supports and endorses the Aviation-Impacted Communities Act! We greatly value the work, advocacy, and leadership of Congressman Adam Smith on this legislation that so directly targets the preservation of our environment, human health, and quality of life,” said Sheila Brush, Founder of Quiet Skies Puget Sound.

The Aviation Impacted Communities Act will:

  • Establish a new “aviation impacted communities” designation for areas suffering from excessive noise or environmental impacts.
  • Define a community eligible for that designation as any residential neighborhood, locality, municipality, town, or city located 3000 feet below, and one mile on either side of any commercial jet route.
  • Require that the FAA alert these communities of their eligibility for the designation of aviation-affected community.
  • Establish a process for communities to bring together airport operators, designated community leaders, and the FAA to discuss solutions in Community Board meetings.
  • Require that appropriate FAA representatives attend community board meetings and respond to community questions and concerns about issues involving aviation or the FAA.
  • Allow communities to petition the FAA for comprehensive impact studies.
  • Require that the FAA develop action plans to respond to communities concerns and the recommendations for mitigation provided in the impact studies.
  • Allow communities to ask for additional noise measurement instrumentation on the ground.
  • Expand the availability of mitigation funding for aviation impacted communities outside of the current 65 day-night average sound level (DNL) contours.
  • Allow sound insulation for communities in the 55 DNL contour

The Aviation Impacted Communities Act is cosponsored by Representatives Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC) Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Stephen Lynch (MA-08). The Act has been endorsed by both Quiet Skies Puget Sound and the Beacon Hill Community Group.

Rep Smith has worked directly with impacted communities and taken extensive action to mitigate noise and environmental impacts in the 115th Congress. You can read more about his work HERE.

A section by section of the bill can be found HERE.