Research Projects

Understanding Airport Noise & Air Quality Baselines and Relationship to Operations

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a drastic reduction (in some cases over 95%) in air traffic operations at airports around the country. The only other time such extreme conditions occurred was after 9/11 (with three days of a total ground stop). The current situation presents an opportunity to collect significantly more data from a longer time period for both noise and air emissions to understand baselines, and the relationship between operations and noise levels and complaints- and between operations and air emissions.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a drastic reduction (in some cases over 95%) in air traffic operations at airports around the country. The only other time such extreme conditions occurred was after 9/11 (with three days of a total ground stop). The data gathered during that time period has been used in a number of studies since as an extreme condition comparison point, and serves as our best estimate of what "ambient" noise levels around airport communities would be in the absence of aircraft noise. The current situation presents an opportunity to collect significantly more data from a longer time period resulting in a more sophisticated data set for both noise and air emissions.

This project would provide for an updated baseline (post 9/11) to help airports define non-aircraft environments. It would further assist in helping airports define correlations between airport noise and operations/complaints, as well as operations and air emissions. This in turn can help airports to better understand noise and air emissions to develop more effective management and mitigation measures. This research will also help airports better understand non-acoustic factors of annoyance, and quality of life issues, which will in turn enable airports to focus on issues they can control or influence in the future, particularly as the industry starts to return to normal operations (the timeline for which is currently unknown).

It is important that airports in the United States have an understanding based on actual data coming out of this current global crisis. This improved baseline information will also be useful to the FAA and industry trade associations in addition to individual airports in responding to questions from communities and future inquiries from individual Members of Congress and groups such as the Quiet Skies Coalition.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The research would seek to answer the following questions:

• How much has airport noise changed, as compared with a similar "normal" period?

• How much has aircraft noise changed in comparison to the total number of airport operations?

• How much have complaint numbers changed, as compared with a similar "normal" period?

• Are there any correlations between airport noise, operations, and complaints (number of complaints, time of day, location, frequent vs. first time callers, etc)?

• How has air quality/emissions under flight paths changed, as compared with a similar "normal" period?

This data would provide for an updated baseline (post 9/11) to help airports define non-aircraft environments. It would further assist in helping airports define correlations between airport noise and operations/complaints, as well as operations and air emissions. This in turn can help airports to better understand noise and air emissions to develop more effective management and mitigation measures. This research will also help airports better understand non-acoustic factors of annoyance, and quality of life issues, which will in turn enable airports to focus on issues they can control or influence in the future, particularly as the industry starts to return to normal operations (the timeline for which is currently unknown).

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

Gather noise monitoring system data and air quality data from a diverse set of participating airports, selecting a range of sizes, geographic locations, passenger vs cargo traffic, etc. Analyze data against pre-COVID noise and air quality data and operations data to address questions above.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

$100,000

Annotations

Voting

14 votes
14 up votes
0 down votes
Idea No. 409