WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration plans to study airport noise across the United States to determine whether policymakers need to change the way they measure noise from passing aircraft.
Describing the project as the most comprehensive single U.S. noise survey conducted, the FAA said on Friday it would begin polling communities around 20 airports by mail and telephone within the next two to three months.
The agency, which did not identify the airports, hoped to finish gathering data by the end of 2016.
“Aircraft manufacturers (have) incorporated technologies that resulted in dramatically quieter aircraft. However, residents around many of the largest U.S. airports have expressed concerns about aircraft noise associated with the continuing growth of the aviation industry,” the agency said.
The aim is to determine whether or not the FAA should change its approach to measuring aircraft noise and to examine land uses near airports.
Medical studies have linked elevated noise levels from aircraft, auto traffic and other sources to health problems including hypertension and heart disease.
Meanwhile, air traffic continues to grow. In 2014, airlines carried nearly 850 million passengers, up from just over 700 million in 2003, and passenger traffic is expected to climb at a rate of 2.2 percent a year over the next two decades, according to government research.
The FAA currently measures aircraft noise on a scale that averages all community noise during a 24-hour period, with a ten-fold penalty for noise that occurs during night and early morning hours. The approach is based on transportation noise surveys conducted in the 1970s.
In 1981, the FAA established 65 decibels as the average guideline at which federal funding should become available for soundproofing or other noise mitigation.
Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Grant McCool