Airport noise pollution: Is there a solution in sight

Falzone, Kristin L

Airport noise pollution is a widespread and growing problem in the United States. Traditionally the regulation of airport noise was left to state and local regulatory efforts as well as judicial actions brought under nuisance and inverse condemnation theories of liability. With the enactment of several pieces of federal legislation beginning in the 1970s, however, Congress has clarified its intent to preempt local control of airport noise. Local governments and airport proprietors have to comply with a complicated scheme of federal regulation and rely on insufficient funds to fully address the airport noise problem in their communities. This Comment suggests changes should be made to the regulatory framework governing the control of aircraft noise through reestablishment of the Office for Noise Abatement and Control within the Environmental Protection Agency, additional funds for noise mitigation projects, and research on the effects of aircraft noise, as well as a shift in the liability structure for noise violations.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare.

-Noise Control Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. Sec 4901(b)


Since the introduction of commercial jets in 1958, the noise problem generated from airport operation has become increasingly widespread, affecting millions of Americans.1 For some, the noise emitted from aircraft is merely an unwanted nuisance that intrudes on their everyday life. For others, however, aircraft noise is a factor that has been found to cause psychological and physiological damage to health and well-being.2

In spite of the population’s widespread exposure to harm, the United States Congress did not pass a federal act exclusively designed to control noise until 1972.3 Prior to the enactment of the Noise Control Act, inverse condemnation actions, common law nuisance remedies, and sporadic attention by some states were the only constraints on increasing levels of airport noise.4 Historically, the private citizen has been able to get little compensation for the proliferation of aircraft noise.5 Landuse planning and other noise abatement activities fall within the jurisdiction of local governments, yet these approaches are often very expensive and somewhat ineffective because they aim to ameliorate noise rather than control it at its source.6 In addition, U.S. courts have held that insofar as the operation of aircraft is concerned, the federal government has preempted the field; thus, communities afflicted by aircraft noise have no power to regulate the noise at its source.7

Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has sole responsibility for the regulation of civil aircraft operations.8 In recent years, many commentators have criticized the FAA for being “a good deal more interested in promoting aviation than in protecting the public welfare.”9 In response to growing criticism of the current regulatory scheme in recent years, members of Congress have introduced bills to address the persistent and increasing noise problem generated by the nation’s airports.10 For instance, in 1997, members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate proposed the Quiet Communities Act.11 This Act would have reestablished the Office of Noise and Abatement Control (ONAC) within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).12 ONAC would have been responsible for coordinating federal noise abatement activities, updating or developing noise standards, providing technical assistance to local communities, and promoting research and education.13 Both bills, however, were referred to committee and subsequently died in Congress.14

As the number of Americans affected by noise pollution increases, citizens disturbed by aircraft noise have begun to be one of the most vocal groups speaking out against noise.15 Such outcry may be responsible for the creation of the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise (FICAN), founded in 1993.16 FICAN brings together representatives of various federal agencies that are involved in research on aviation-related noise.17 FICAN, however, does not itself conduct research or have regulatory or enforcement powers.18 Instead, FICAN is limited to conducting conferences, serving as a clearinghouse for research, distributing technical information, and making recommendations.19 FICAN’s lack of power has left citizen groups more frustrated than ever before.20

This Comment assesses the legal framework regulating noise pollution generated by the operation of airports. Part I introduces the concept of noise pollution and provides a background on airport noise pollution in particular. Traditional ways of controlling noise, such as state and local noise ordinances and nuisance and inverse condemnation claims are briefly examined in Part II. Part III discusses the history of major federal legislation and regulations aimed at controlling noise pollution. Part IV describes how the doctrine of preemption relates to noise pollution. A variety of noise abatement activities and their limitations with regard to aircraft noise pollution are explored in Part V. Finally, Part VI argues that with the current mix of federal and local efforts, there is a need for an alternative means of controlling airport noise pollution other than that offered by the FAA alone.


Noise is often described as unwanted sound.21 Sound is the result of small periodic variations in normal atmospheric air pressure, caused by vibration or turbulence.22 The effects of noise are primarily determined by its duration and level, but are also influenced by a sound’s frequency.23 A sound’s level, measured in decibels (dB), is the amplitude of the pressure changes occurring.24

Noise is measured by basic sound level meters.25 Most sound level meters use built-in frequency filters or “weighting networks” in the measurement process.26 “A” weighting approximates the equal-loudness response of the ear at moderate sound levels, and correlates with both hearing damage and annoyance from noise.27 Composite measures of noise such as the Equivalent Continuous Sound Level (Leq) and the Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) have been used extensively to assess the impact of aircraft noise.28 These levels constitute sound energy averages over given periods of time.29

Because the effects of noise as an environmental intrusion are often transitory and seldom catastrophic, noise is often thought to be a less significant harm than air or water pollutants.30 Like other environmental problems, however, aircraft noise affects millions of people each day, producing a number of short-term and long-term adverse effects.31 Research indicates that excessive noise can cause significant health problems, such as hearing loss, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal problems, and other disorders.32 In addition, noise may cause interference with communication, sleep deprivation, poor performance at work and in school due to of lack of concentration, and general annoyance.33 It is estimated that more than ten million Americans suffer from noise-induced hearing loss and twenty million are exposed to potentially damaging noise levels.34 Researchers argue that chronic exposure to noise is harmful to human health, causing damage which occurs even in the absence of detectable hearing loss.35

Noise is generated from a large number of sources, a number that dramatically increased in the United States following World War II.35 Increased mechanization, urbanization, and population produced higher noise levels.37 In addition, transportation systems such as subways, air terminals, and interstate highways tend to be sources of concentrated noise-generating equipment and activity.38 The increase in and concentration of noise sources often produces unacceptably high levels of noise-noise which has a durational characteristic that further compounds the harm.39 A 1991 report to the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) explained that:

noise levels are directly related to population density, and the urban population is increasing at twice the pace of the nonurban population …. The fact that some of these sources have been and continue to be quieted (especially new generations of trucks and aircraft) should mitigate this increase, but the extent of this mitigation will remain unknown . 40

Air traffic in particular appears to be increasing more rapidly than the U.S. population.41 Some argue that as a result of the increase in air traffic, overall noise levels generated from aircraft have increased as well.42 For example, from 1985 to 1995, the total number of aircraft passengers using the fifty largest airports in the United States increased forty-eight percent.43 Each day, over 30,000 flights are completed within the United States, and it is projected that air traffic will double in the next fifteen to twenty years, making the current problems of aircraft noise even more critical.44

As the demand for air transportation has increased, along with the overall number of flights, flight corridors to and from airports have become congested.45 In response, the FAA has sought to increase the number of routes to enhance system capacity.46 These changes have created noise over previously quiet neighborhoods, thus affecting a larger number of residents.47 These residents have in turn lodged noise complaints.48

High DNL readings caused by aircraft noise have been reported consistently around United States airports.49 For example, in 1997, 31% to 53% of noise monitoring stations located near National Airport and Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., reported DNL readings greater than 65 dB, the current standard approved by the FAA.50 Citizens of Reston, Virginia, affected by Dulles Airport, which has no nighttime flight restrictions, live in an environment of noise that remains constant at about 70 DNL.51 The citizens near Denver International Airport report that their ambient noise level is 20 dBA, yet the noise level rises to 77 dBA when aircraft pass over, as far as fifty miles from the airport.52 At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, which is surrounded by residential communities, eighty-seven percent of the noise monitoring stations report readings over 65 dB with several locations at 80 dB.53



Under existing law, property owners may seek damages for noise injury under two general causes of action: nuisance or inverse condemnation.54 In general, these judicial means of controlling airport noise are retrospective, aimed at ameliorating noise rather than preventing it.55 In addition to judicial measures, state and local governments have implemented varying statutes and ordinances designed to alleviate noise pollution.56 Understanding the historical regulation of noise is necessary to analyze the current scheme of federal control over airport noise pollution.

A. Nuisance

Nuisance has been defined as “the substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of land.”57 Nuisance liability is based on an ancient common law concept that one should not use one’s land so as to injure the property of another, expressed in the Latin phrase, “Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas.”58 Although airports are not per se nuisances, they may become nuisances by reason of their construction, operation, or location.59 Even though aircraft flights may not directly pass over a landowner’s property, flights may still constitute nuisances because of the unreasonable noise they create.60

Whether a court finds that noise generated from airport operations constitutes a nuisance often depends on whether the noise is incident to the ordinary and necessary use of the airport or the result of the improper and negligent operation of an airport.61 Depending on a court’s analysis of factors such as excessive noise, vibration, frequency of overflights, altitude of aircraft, and the time of day flights are made, interference with the use and enjoyment of property may or may not be sufficient to establish liability for nuisance.62 Many courts also balance what they call the “equities and conveniences.”63 These include the social utility of aviation, the legitimacy of aviation as a business, the distance of the airport from the owner’s property, and the overall impact of the noise on the property owner.64 If the court determines airport noise to be a nuisance, its determination of the appropriate remedy is based on these same equities and considerations. Courts typically refuse to grant injunctions restricting airport operations.66 Instead, courts opt for damages or limited injunctive remedies which allow airports to continue operations with changes to mitigate the nuisance.67 A Georgia Court of Appeals emphasized the policy behind state nuisance remedies, declaring that a proprietor of an airport should bear its rightful share of legal liability for damages resulting from its airport.68

B. Inverse Condemnation

Another traditional means of addressing aircraft noise pollution is judicial action based on the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires compensation for the “taking” of private property.69 The Amendment provides: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”70 This constitutional guarantee also applies to state action through the Fourteenth Amendment.71 In addition, nearly all state constitutions have similar provisions regarding takings.72 Those states without explicit provisions find an implicit prohibition against uncompensated takings in their constitutions.73 Thus, both federal and state courts generally recognize a cause of action to remedy an uncompensated governmental taking.74

A landowner has an implied cause of action known as inverse condemnation when a government actor violates the takings provision of the Fifth Amendment.75 According to the U.S. Supreme Court, inverse condemnation is a “cause of action against a governmental defendant to recover the value of property which has been taken in fact by the governmental defendant, even though no formal exercise of the power of eminent domain has been attempted by the taking agency.”76

Takings claims are analyzed differently depending on whether they involve a physical taking or a regulatory taking.77 Actual physical takings of property constitute the most obvious types of governmental action that support claims of inverse condemnation.78 When the government authorizes either a continuing process of physical events or an isolated event or activity that denies an owner of the use and enjoyment of his or her property, a taking occurs and the owner is entitled to compensation.79

The first major judicial treatment of the doctrine of physical invasion as it relates to aircraft noise pollution occurred in 1946 in United States v. Causby.80 In Causby, the U.S. Supreme Court held that frequent and low flights by airplanes over private land that cause direct and immediate interference with the property owner’s use and enjoyment of land are akin to physical takings.81 Causby involved damage to a property owner’s chicken farming business and his personal health due to noise and bright lights from frequent and regular low altitude flights of military aircraft over his land.82 The Court held that the damages sustained by the property owner were a product of a direct, rather than consequential, invasion of his domain, and thus constituted a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment.83 Since Causby, plaintiffs have utilized inverse condemnation frequently to obtain redress for diminution in property values caused by aircraft noise.84

In allocating damages in inverse condemnation suits, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that airport proprietors are liable for any excessive noise generated by aircraft utilizing their airports.85 In

Griggs v. Allegheny County, the Supreme Court held the County of Allegheny, proprietor of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport, liable for an unconstitutional taking of plaintiffs’ property.86 The Court held that the noise and vibration caused by the low, frequent overhead flights constituted a compensable taking of property by inverse condemnation.87 According to the Court, the local authority was liable because it decided where the airport was built, what runways were needed, the direction and length of the runways, and what land and navigation easements were necessary.88 In addition, the local authority held status as promoter, lessor, and operator of the airport.89 Although the federal government approved the plans for the airport and established federal regulations concerning airport construction, the Supreme Court held that the “Federal Government [has] take[n] nothing.”90 Similarly, the Court decided that the airlines utilizing the airport were not responsible for damages due the plaintiffs as the airlines were simply complying with the rules and regulations of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.91

Liability for damages stemming from noise pollution is placed on airport proprietors, yet responsibility for noise abatement resides among federal, state, and local governments, air carriers, and airport proprietors.92 This “single liability/shared responsibility” situation has been criticized because it “promotes, rather than discourages, confusion.”93 Therefore, the airport proprietor is often left alone to mitigate noise, negotiate with or educate local landowners, or pay for the increased costs associated with the spillover effects of aviation activity.94 C. State and Local Noise Ordinances

Historically, public regulation of noise was based on the enforcement of local anti-noise legislation and ordinances.95 Because of the difficulty in setting objective standards, most noise ordinances prohibit “unreasonable” or “unusual” noise.96 Due to their subjective nature, ordinances utilizing this language are difficult to enforce.97 Once portable noise measuring equipment became available, however, state and local governments began promulgating objective emission standards.98 For example, the Noise Ordinance for Boston, Massachusetts, prohibits “any unreasonable or excessive noise in the city.”99 Yet the ordinance further defines “unreasonable or excessive” utilizing a maximum decibel standard and, in the absence of an applicable noise level standard, a distance standard.100 Aircraft overflights, like many other sources of noise, are extremely loud and disruptive yet do not last long enough to violate a maximum decibel standard.101

Airport proprietors, whether municipal entities or private owners, responded to the significant increase in airport noise complaints by imposing restrictions on the use of airports.102 In general, restricting use rather than reducing or eliminating aircraft noise tends to be more politically expedient and cost effective.103 Local noise control measures often include curfews which limit the hours of operation, noise limitations, preferential runways, limitations on the types of aircraft allowed to use the airport, and flight path modifications.104 Airports are largely dependent on air carriers as well as their neighbors and local governments in implementing noise abatement policies.1 With the deregulation of the airline industry, air carriers have greater latitude in selecting airports and routes to serve.106 This gives air carriers greater leverage in bargaining with airport proprietors about noise abatement activities, often disrupting a proprietor’s intentions to reduce noise.107


Today, regulation of aircraft noise is primarily achieved through federal legislation.108 Congress has historically struggled with the proper balance between the interests of individuals owning land near airports and society’s interest in the existence and expansion of airports.109 In addition, Congress has repeatedly emphasized the local nature of noise abatement policy while simultaneously enunciating greater federal involvement in such issues.110 An examination of the major federal legislation designed to regulate airport noise demonstrates the difficulty of balancing these competing interests.

A. Federal Aviation Act of 1958

Early federal statutes made clear Congress’ intent to leave the responsibility for the ownership and development of airports to state and municipal governments.111 The Air Commerce Act of 1926 provided that airports are under the “jurisdiction and control of municipalities concerned.”112 This policy of encouraging local control of airports was further enunciated in the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 (CAA), which prohibited the Administrator of Civil Aeronautics from acquiring any airport.113 With the advent of commercial air traffic in 1958, Congress enacted the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (Federal Aviation Act or the Act) as a substitute for the CAA.114

Under these early statutes, local governments were given responsibility for setting and enforcing rules and regulations governing airports, yet the federal government was given dominion over the air space.115 Utilizing its commerce power, Congress gave the federal government “complete and exclusive national sovereignty in the air space” over the United States.116 To accommodate increased air travel, Congress granted citizens of the United States “a public right of freedom of transit in air commerce through the navigable air space of the United States.”117

The Federal Aviation Act created the FAA, subsequently replacing local governments as the primary authority for aviation safety.118 The Act contemplated a unified and coordinated air transportation system, although most airports in the United States at the time of the Act’s passage were owned and operated by local governments.119

The Federal Aviation Act gave the FAA broad authority to control and regulate the use of navigable airspace and aircraft operations.120 It focused on safety and economic issues, and did not directly address the increasing aircraft noise problem.121 Only a few of its provisions dealt with environmental issues, and very few of these implicated state or local governmental powers to any significant degree.l22 The FAA relied on voluntary cooperation among aircraft and engine manufacturers, the airlines, and airport operators to handle aircraft noise problems.123

In 1968, Congress amended the Federal Aviation Act, authorizing the FAA to include noise considerations as a factor in approving jet aircraft and engine design.124 The Control and Abatement of Aircraft Noise and Sonic Boom Amendment directed the FAA to develop standards for measuring aircraft noise and to provide for the control and abatement of aircraft noise at the source.125 In doing so, the FAA had to ensure that its standards were “consistent with the highest degree of safety” and “economically reasonable, technologically practicable, and appropriate for the applicable aircraft, aircraft engine, appliance, or certificate.”126

With statutory authority under the 1968 amendment, the FAA issued Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 36.127 Part 36 created a system for measuring aircraft noise and established maximum levels of noise output for both newly certified aircraft and existing older aircraft.128 Part 36 breaks noise emissions into three different levels or “stages,” based on an aircraft’s size and number of engines.129 Many anti-noise groups criticized the regulation, however, because it only applied to those aircraft designs with submitted certification applications after December 1, 1969.130

B. Noise Control Act of 1972

In 1970, Congress directed EPA to establish the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC).131 Congress ordered ONAC to complete a one-year investigation and study of the effects of noise on public health and welfare.132 Based on its findings, EPA convinced Congress that noise pollution was a serious problem.133 EPA reported that in the United States, forty million people were exposed to noise capable of inducing hearing loss, and that transportation and aircraft noise had reduced the property values of forty-four million people.134

In 1972, in response to ONAC’s report, Congress enacted the Noise Control Act (NCA).135 Recognizing that “inadequately controlled noise presents a growing danger to the health and welfare of the Nation’s population,” the NCA ordered the establishment of a “means for effective coordination of Federal research and activities in noise control.”136 Congress asserted that while primary responsibility for noise control rests with state and local governments, “[f]ederal action is essential to deal with major noise sources in commerce control of which require national uniformity of treatment.”137 The stated purposes of the NCA were to establish a means for effectively coordinating federal research and activities in noise control, to authorize the establishment of federal noise emission standards, and to provide information to the public concerning the noise emission and noise reduction characteristics of low-noise emission products.138

The NCA drew EPA into the comprehensive scheme of federal control of aircraft noise.139 It directed ONAC to conduct a study of the adequacy of the FAA noise regulations, and to propose regulations for the control and abatement of noise which EPA considered necessary to protect the public health and welfare.140 Even with the introduction of EPA to the regulatory scheme, however, the FAA retained its primary responsibility for regulation of aircraft noise under the NCA.141 The FAA failed to implement many of EPA’s recommendations, straining the relationship between the two agencies.l42 EPA consistently disagreed with the FAA on the selection of noise measurement methodologies, the threshold of noise at which health impacts are felt, and the implementation of noise abatement programs at airports around the United States.143

In 1978, Congress enacted the Quiet Communities Act, authorizing ONAC to create a grants program and offer technical assistance to state and local governments in order to stimulate noise abatement.144 ONAC assisted communities by hosting training programs, writing and distributing model state and local noise ordinances, and establishing a program designed to help localities purchase low-noise emission products.145 In 1981, the Reagan Administration’s Office of Management and Budget ceased funding for ONAC.146 As a result, it was estimated that more than a thousand community noise abatement programs, dependent upon federal funding and expertise, were virtually shut down.147 This forced EPA to end most of its noise abatement activities.148 EPA still remains responsible for enforcing regulations issued under the NCA even though its funding has been terminated.149

C. Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979

In 1976, in response to problems occurring under FAR Part 36, the FAA enacted FAR Part 91.150 Part 91 limits the noise emissions of existing aircraft by applying stricter standards retroactively to all aircraft.151 Because Part 36 implemented prospective noise standards only, aircraft owners could avoid stricter noise regulations by purchasing planes manufactured prior to 1974 using pre-1969 designs.152 The newly enacted Part 91 retroactive standards created much controversy in the aircraft industry due to the high costs associated with their implementation.153 In response to the new financial burden on U.S. air carriers and the continuing need for a comprehensive noise abatement program, Congress enacted the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979 (ASNAA).154

ASNAA directed the Department of Transportation (DOT), after consultation with EPA155 and other federal, state, and interstate agencies, to establish a comprehensive single program for measuring airport noise and compatibility.156 ASNAA extended the technology implementation deadlines for compliance with Part 91.157 In addition, it established a noise compatibility planning system, comprised of financial incentives to induce both airport and aircraft operators to adopt anti-noise pollution policies.158 Planning is only mandatory if the airport desires federal aid for development.159

Under ASNAA’s planning system, DOT developed a uniform system for measuring aircraft noise levels and determined compatible land uses for areas with various noise levels.160 Based on this information, airport proprietors may develop noise exposure maps for their airports, pointing out problem noise areas and any incompatible uses in those areas.161 After completion of approved noise compatibility maps, airport operators qualify for federal grants to develop their proposed noise compatibility programs.162

In addition to its financial incentives, ASNAA provides airport proprietors with other inducements for submitting noise compatibility programs.163 First, the noise exposure maps enable airport operators to limit potential liability for noise pollution by notifying potential purchasers of property near the airport of the possibly high noise levels.164 Purchasers of property near an airport with a noise exposure map are limited in recovering damages because they are presumed to have had actual or constructive knowledge of the noise exposure map.165 The only way a purchaser can overcome this presumption is to show that there has been a significant change in the type or frequency of aircraft operations at the airport, airport layout, flight patterns, or an increase in night operations, and that the damages resulted from this change or increase.166 In addition, ASNAA offers airport proprietors further protection by prohibiting private litigants from using the noise exposure map against an airport in a civil suit seeking relief from airport noise.167

Noise compatibility planning is based on localized fact-specific circumstances.168s A plan is based on an examination of areas within and beyond an airport’s borders to ensure the noise compatibility of an airport with its surrounding community.169 Localized planning prompted the airline and air cargo industries to lobby Congress for legislation to counteract the proliferation of noise restrictions that were adopted by airports around the country.170

D. Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990

In response to the air industry’s lobbying efforts, Congress passed the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA), in an attempt to integrate the increasing number of individualized noise restrictions imposed on airports by local operators.171 In enacting ANCA, Congress emphasized a national noise policy that considers local interests in aviation noise management through the use of new technologies, use of revenue from passenger facility fees, and review of current operations.172 ANCA’s opponents, primarily citizens groups, argued that the legislation gave FAA unlimited discretion to strike down local noise abatement efforts and would actually increase the noise problem by allowing carriers to keep their noisiest aircraft in the sky and by increasing the total number of aircraft in service.173

ANCA, another attempt to balance the competing interests of the airline industry and citizens residing near airports, consists of two separate programs.174 First, ANCA directs the DOT to establish a national aviation noise policy and program for reviewing airport noise and access restrictions on the operation of stage two and stage three aircraft.175 Second, ANCA provides for a national phase-out of stage two aircraft operating in or out of U.S. airports and requires the airline industry to achieve a 100% stage three fleet of quieter aircraft by the year 2000.176

In 1991, the FAA began administering new Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 161.177 Part 161 implements provisions of ANCA by establishing a national program for reviewing airport noise and access restrictions on stage two and stage three aircraft operations.178


Much of the confusion surrounding the regulation of airport noise pollution is the product of a difficult balance between state and federal powers. The U.S. Constitution expressly gives Congress the power to regulate the interstate and foreign commerce of the United States.179 Under the commerce power and, to some extent, the postal and military powers, Congress may control air traffic in the United States.180

The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution invalidates state laws regarding air commerce which “interfere with, or are contrary to” federal laws regarding air commerce.181 It states that “[the] Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land.182

Preemption is largely dependent on congressional intent rather than the plain meaning of the Constitution.181 The will of Congress to monopolize an area of legislation may be expressed in an authorizing statute or in regulations enacted pursuant to the statute.184

There are three basic circumstances in which a state or local statute may be preempted by a federal statute or regulation.185 First, in enacting a federal statute within its constitutional limits, Congress may expressly state an intention to preempt state law.186 Second, Congress’ intent to preempt state law in a particular area may be implied where Congress has “occupied the field” of regulation by leaving no room for supplementary state regulation.187 Courts infer preemption when the “federal interest is so dominant that the federal system will be assumed to preclude enforcement of state laws on the same subject.”188 Third, preemption exists when a state law directly conflicts with federal law.189 Such conflict occurs when “compliance with both federal and state regulations is a physical impossibility,”190 or when state law “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.”191

In determining whether Congress intended to preempt state law on a subject, the U.S Supreme Court relies on the concept of uniformity, often present in legislative histories.192 The Court balances the need for uniform control in order to protect national interests against the rights of individual property owners in applying the preemption doctrine to aviation-related cases.193 After the 1968 amendment to the Federal Aviation Act, the Court mandated federal control over matters concerning aircraft in flight, and control by other entities, including federal, state, and local governments, for matters regarding aircraft on the ground.194 States’ rights to enact statutes to control noise generated by aircraft during descent and takeoff was not addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court until 1972.195

A. Federal Preemption of State and Local Regulation of Aircraft

Noise Pollution

The Supreme Court first addressed the issue of preemption as it pertained to aircraft noise in City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc?.196 In Burbank, the Court invalidated a local noise regulation restricting the permissible times of flights in and out of the Burbank airport.197 Recognizing that noise control is vested historically in the police power of the states, the Court held that the control vested in the FAA and EPA under the Noise Control Act of 1972 left no room for local control.198 The Court noted that imposition of curfew ordinances on a nationwide basis would impair the efficient use of navigable airspace by limiting the flexibility of the FAA in controlling the flow of aircraft.199 Instead, “a uniform and exclusive system of federal regulation” was required if “the congressional objectives underlying the Federal Aviation Act [were] to be fulfilled.”200 Further, the Court stated that any diffusion of the FAA’s and EPA’s administrative powers must be left to Congress.201

The Supreme Court’s pronouncements in Burbank regarding preemption have since been understood to extend well beyond curfews.202 Based on Burbank, courts have found a variety of local restrictions on aircraft operations unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause.203

While federal law preempts local law in regard to aircraft safety, navigable airspace, and noise control, courts have refrained from applying Burbank when land and water use zoning issues are involved.204 In several cases, the FAA has indicated that it does not believe Congress expressly or impliedly meant to preempt regulation of local land or water use in regard to locating airports or plane landing sites.205 FAA regulations governing the establishment of airports typically defer to local laws, ordinances, and regulations, thus manifesting FAA’s lack of intent to regulate airport location as pervasively as it regulates airport noise.206 In Gustafson v. City of Lake Angelus, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stated that concerns of environmental impact and landuse compatibility were matters of local concern and therefore should not be determined by the FAA.207

B. The Proprietor’s Exemption

The Burbank Court made it clear that in most circumstances regulation of aircraft noise under NCA is primarily a concern of the federal government 208 In a footnote, however, the Court suggested that different logic might apply with respect to regulations imposed by a municipality acting in its capacity as an airport proprietor.209 Concerned with preemption of fundamental rights of property ownership, it appears that the Burbank majority limited preemption of state or local regulation of noise control to exercises of police power.210 Subsequently, courts have found that in Burbank the Supreme Court recognized that Congress “singled out airport proprietors and gave them special, although undefined, leeway in controlling the sources of aircraft noise directly.”211 This exclusion, now known as the “Proprietor’s Exemption,” has been the subject of extensive litigation.212

Federal courts have recognized complete federal preemption over the regulation of aircraft and airspace, with a “limited role for local airport proprietors in regulating noise levels at their airports.213 That limited role is one in which municipalities can regulate aircraft operations in a “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory” manner.214 The origin of this exception exists in a letter from the Secretary of Transportation submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee regarding the 1968 amendments to the Federal Aviation Act.215 The Secretary of Transportation, in a letter dated June 22, 1968, wrote:

The proposed legislation will not affect the rights of a State or local public agency, as the proprietor of an airport, from issuing regulations or establishing requirements as to the permissible level of noise which can be created by aircraft using the airport. Airport owners acting as proprietors can presently deny the use of their airports to aircraft on the basis of noise considerations as long as such exclusion is nondiscriminatory.216

Neither Congress nor the Supreme Court has delineated the precise nature of the “powers and rights” reserved to proprietors.217 The rationale for the exception, however, resides in the Supreme Court’s determination in Griggs that airport proprietors are liable for excessive aircraft noise.218 Courts recognizing the exception have argued that an airport proprietor should be able to promulgate reasonable noise regulations in order to properly insulate itself from potential liability.219

Following Burbank, federal and state courts generally have accepted the premise that “a municipal ordinance resting on police power, which manages or dictates action by aircraft in navigable airspace for the purpose of noise control, is invalid under the preemption doctrine.”220 Some courts, however, refused to relinquish complete control over flight by seizing on Burbank’s proprietor exemption.221 For example, in Santa Monica Airport Ass’n v. City of Santa Monica, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that a municipal proprietor’s power to regulate the use of its airport was not preempted by federal legislation.222 The court stated, “[t]he legislative history shows that Congress intended that municipal proprietors enact reasonable regulations to establish acceptable noise levels for airfields and their environs.”223

Since the Burbank decision, Congress has clarified its intent to preempt local control of noise through the implementation of legislation such as ANCA.224 Congress declared that “noise policy must be carried out at the national level” and “local interest in aviation noise management shall be considered in determining the national interest.”226

C. Federal Preemption of Tortious Liability for Airport Noise

While federal legislation such as ANCA preempts state and local regulation of aircraft noise, an individual’s judicial remedies for damages caused by aircraft noise are not similarly affected. The comprehensive scheme of federal legislation regulating airport noise contemplates considerable federal involvement in the planning and operation of airports.226 Courts, however, have given protected status to a citizen’s rights to the full use, possession, and enjoyment of his or her property.227 It is well recognized that a property owner has a constitutionally based inverse condemnation remedy against an airport proprietor for property damage or loss caused by airport noise.228 Courts have held that the common law and statutory remedy of nuisance should protect the interests of property owners under similar circumstances equally.229

In Greater Westchester Homeowners Ass’n v. City of Los Angeles, homeowners sued the city on a nuisance theory for personal injuries sustained as a result of excessive noise from aircraft using the city’s airport.230The California Supreme Court based its decision on the depth and continuous nature of the city’s involvement in the creation and maintenance of the airport.231 Conceding that the city followed federal advice, approval, and perhaps encouragement, the court stated that the city “chose, and was not forced by anyone, to develop LAX [Los Angeles International Airport] in its particular location.”232 The court concluded that recognition of a state nuisance remedy would not impermissibly hinder commerce or conflict with federal policy.233

Other state courts that have considered this issue have reached the similar conclusion that claims for personal injuries founded upon nuisance theory are not federally preempted.234 The majority of these opinions rely on the Federal Aviation Act provision that “[n]othing contained in this Chapter shall in any way abridge or alter the remedies now existing at common law or by statute, but the provisions of this Chapter are in addition to such remedies.”235

Yet, because federal law governs much of the conduct of airports and their carriers, individuals are limited in the relief they can seek under common law doctrines such as nuisance.236 Damages for issues such as failing to control the maximum number of flights per hour or fitting older models of aircraft with newer, quieter engines are not recoverable under state law actions because such issues are governed by federal law.237 Instead, claimants are limited to issues that do not offend federal law, such as proprietary liability due to inadequate noise baffles around the perimeter of the airport, or allowing an airport to operate with more runways than federal law requires.238 According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, “the essential point is that the state may employ damages remedies only to enforce federal requirements or to regulate aspects of airport operation over which the state has discretionary authority.239


Because of federal preemption of state and local regulatory efforts to curb airport noise pollution, measures designed to make airports noise-compatible with their environments may be the only remaining means local governments have to address the noise problem. State and local governments use a variety of methods to promote the noise compatibility of airports, thus helping to protect a community’s interest in its airport.240 Programs often include a combination of the following measures: establishment of a preferential runway system, restriction of airport use based upon aircraft noise levels, soundproofing of public buildings, modification of flight patterns and procedures, and acquisition of land and other interests labeled as incompatible uses 241 Funding for noise abatement programs comes from federal and local governments, in addition to those provided by airport proprietors.242 However, the high monetary expenses necessary to establish noise abatement programs often limit their effectiveness due to inadequate funding from all sources.243

A. Land Use as a Means of Noise Abatement

Land acquisition is a successful but expensive means of controlling airport noise.244 Airport proprietors may acquire land surrounding an airport or an interest in that land through voluntary sales or condemnation proceedings.245 After it has acquired the land, the airport can use the property for airport uses, airport-related uses such as hotels and restaurants, or nonairport-related functions.246 Land acquisition programs for airport noise compatibility often include programs for relocation of residents and businesses and redevelopment of the land for compatible uses.247

Land banking, an alternative form of land acquisition, procures land for future expansion of existing airports or establishment of future airports, rather than immediate construction.248 Purchasing land several years in advance avoids many of the difficult problems associated with establishing or expanding an airport where development already exists.249 Like standard land acquisition, however, land banking requires large expenditures, commonly beyond the reach of local governments.250

Landuse zoning is another means of attempting to make airports noise-compatible with the surrounding community.251 Landuse zoning does not prevent development of land, but instead limits development by requiring an airport’s uses to be noise-compatible.252 Construction of warehouses, factories, and commercial projects often constitute noise-compatible uses.253 Landuse zoning is a normal exercise of the local government’s zoning authority and requires no specific enabling legislation.254 With regard to airport noise, however, landuse zoning may have practical limitations.255 Land may be subject to multiple zoning jurisdictions because of the large size of airports.256 Additionally, reductions in the property tax base are possible based on the less intensive use of property.257

Another way to attain airport noise compatibility is to soundproof buildings in an airport’s vicinity.258 While soundproofing provides immediate relief, there are limitations on its effectiveness.259 First, such projects require large expenditures that, depending upon the age of the building, may not be economically feasible.260 In addition, while the sound level is significantly reduced within a building, it may be ineffective in residential situations especially during the summer months when individuals open windows and spend more time outdoors.261

B. Funding for Noise-Compatible Landuse

In conjunction with ASNA, the FAA developed and implemented FAR Part 150, which provides detailed guidelines and instructions for obtaining federal funding for noise compatibility programs.262 Part 150 is a voluntary program that allows airport operators to prepare noise exposure maps and to recommend measures in a noise compatibility program to reduce noise and noncompatible land uses.263 Airport operators may submit airport noise compatibility programs to the FAA for approval under criteria established by ASNA and Part 150.264 The FAA is authorized to provide Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for airport noise compatibility planning (i.e., the preparation of the noise exposure maps and the noise compatibility program) and noise projects (i.e., measures approved by the FAA in a noise compatibility program).265 Under the AIP, an airport listed in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) published by the FAA266 can apply for federal funds for different types of airport projects including noise abatement.267 As of September 30, 1997, 235 airports were participating in the program, 191 of which had approved programs successfully in place.268 Since an approved noise compatibility program is a prerequisite to receiving funds for most mitigation actions, most airport operators where noise is a significant factor have participated in some level of noise planning.269

Because the federal expenditures for airports are insufficient to satisfy all of the projects recognized and approved in the NPIAS, FAA has much discretionary authority in allocating these funds.270 The level of discretionary funding is a product of the overall AIP funding level.271 The availability of diminished discretionary funds does not relieve an airport sponsor of its obligation to fulfill noise mitigation programs included in its Part 150 plan.272 Thus, airport operators may have to use local funds to fulfill these requirements, reducing local funds available for other airport needs.273

Congress also authorizes airports to collect passenger facility charges (PFCs) to finance an eligible airport-related project.274 Airport-related projects include airport noise compatibility planning and the implementation of noise compatibility measures under ASNA even if a noise compatibility program has not been approved.275 The FAA adopted substantial regulations to clarify the eligibility requirements and application process for airport proprietors to assess PFCs.276 In 1996, $1.1 billion in PFC funds were collected from some 268 airports and distributed in the following manner: 35% went to projects such as runways, taxi-ways, and safety related projects; 30% was allocated to landside projects, primarily terminal buildings; 17% paid interest on bonds; 11% was used for noise abatement projects; and 6% was used for roads.277 The FAA adopted substantial regulations to clarify the eligibility requirements and application process for airport proprietors to assess PFCs.278

Failure to comply with ANCA allows FAA to terminate an airport operator’s eligibility for airport grant funds and its authority to impose or collect PFCs.279 While withholding PFC eligibility may be an effective means of controlling noise control policies, some commentators have argued it also takes away PFC funding crucial to expanding airport capacity?



Aircraft noise is a serious yet often unappreciated and neglected form of pollution. The current method of regulating airport noise pollution is an unnecessarily complicated web of federal, state, and local legislative and judicial decisions. Lack of accountability among these various entities has produced an inefficient means of controlling airport noise.

Since the enactment of the Federal Aviation Act in 1958, Congress has struggled to attain the proper balance of federal and local involvement in airport noise abatement?281 Traditionally, noise control has been the prerogative of local governments.282 However, since the advent of commercial air travel in 1958, the unique nature of airport noise as compared to other sources of noise has required special treatment.283 As air travel increased, uncoordinated and inconsistent methods of addressing noise pollution at the local level motivated Congress to enact legislation ordering federal assistance with implementation of programs.284 This legislation failed to procure benefits and instead caused much confusion in federal and state courts as local municipalities struggled to define their roles in the regulation of airport noise.

Under the current regulatory scheme, local governments and airport proprietors remain responsible for landuse planning and noise abatement activities.285 With the enactment of the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979 and the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, however, Congress also mandated the FAA to participate in noise compatibility planning.286 To receive federal funding in the form of discretionary grants or passenger facility charges, airports must comply with the standards set forth by these acts.287 Federal funding makes prior approval from the FAA necessary before airports can make alterations in their noise compatibility programs.288 For example, for several years, Van Nuys Airport in California expressed an interest in extending its nighttime curfew on aircraft flights from 11:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.289 The FAA responded to these efforts in September 1996, warning that the airport could lose its federal funding if the curfew was enacted through a “misunderstanding of federal law.”290 It took the FAA until August 1997 before the Agency authorized the city to enact the proposed measures.291 Thus, while local governments and airport proprietors are given the sole responsibility of implementing noise plans, the inability of airports to operate in today’s economy absent federal funding grants tremendous authoritative power to the FAA.

A. The Reestablishment of EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and


When Congress eliminated ONAC’s funding in 1982, EPA, although far from completing its agenda, had made an important start in implementing Congress’ directives under the Noise Control Act of 1972.292 Since the termination of these funds, attempts at federal noise abatement activity have experienced limited effectiveness, while state and local activity has suffered a marked decline as well.293 Although ANCA, enacted in 1990, is forcing air carriers to comport with stricter noise emission standards by the year 2000, these standards are based on recommendations made by EPA in the 1970s.294

The transition to an all stage three fleet is a necessary step toward limiting aircraft noise, but the overall growth of the air travel industry is already threatening the progress these regulations have had in the United States.295 In addition to the growing number of flights, the size of commercial aircraft has been increasing, requiring the use of larger and more powerful engines.296 This use of larger aircraft has offset some of the noise reduction achieved through the stage three transition.297

These problems require an independent agency, separate from the FAA, to encourage the development and introduction of new aviation technology. New studies repeatedly show detrimental links between high noise levels and health and quality of life issues.298 Aircraft carriers are unlikely to execute changes in their fleets designed to solve these recurring problems without mandatory legislation or substantial financial incentives. The FAA is highly influenced by the interests of the air carrier lobby, as exemplified by the passage of ANCA in 1990.299 In addition to the role of airports and air carriers, the FAA is influenced by competing concerns within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.300 The FAA’s direct responsibility for and investment in air traffic control equipment and personnel, and the publicity received by aircraft accidents, causes the FAA to dedicate more resources to airspace management and safety over airport problems.301 The FAA’s primary interest in airports centers on the administration of grants which are linked to FAA’s air traffic and safety responsibilities.302 Thus, without an order, or at least encouragement from an independent source, the FAA will continue to address inefficiently the growing airport noise pollution problem.303

Many commentators recommend the reinstatement of ONAC within EPA to study the impact of aircraft noise on human health and well-being.304 ONAC as it was structured in the 1970s, however, will not adequately serve the needs of today’s communities in combating airport noise. ONAC must have a more authoritative role in implementing new guidelines and standards. In the 1970s, ONAC made important contributions which the FAA often disregarded in enacting its regulations.305 An independent commission composed of representatives of ONAC, the FAA, and Congress should also be established to ensure equality among the various federal agencies regulating airport noise pollution.

Some anti-noise advocates oppose the reopening of ONAC because of their beliefs that it will not provide real help to citizens suffering as a result of aircraft noise.306 They argue that the appropriations proposed under the Quiet Communities Act are far less than when ONAC was in operation, the office will still be unable to regulate aircraft noise, and the office will still be guided by an out-of-date Noise Control Act.307 However, the reopening of ONAC, even with a limited budget, constitutes congressional acknowledgement of the continually expanding aircraft noise problem, which may have positive effects on the FAA’s regulatory structure.308

B. The DNL Measurement of Noise

In addition, to relieve airport noise pollution, the FAA should reassess its standards for measuring aircraft noise.309 The DNL measurement is criticized because it fails to measure adequately the effects of a particular noise source.310 Aircraft noise is considered impulsive noise, yet a DNL registers an averaging of sound over a twenty-four hour period.311 An averaging does not account for the high noise levels that often accompany single-event noise emissions such as aircraft noise.312 Support for research and the implementation of new technology are necessary to measure adequately an airport’s overall sound.3l3 Commentators suggest a metric which takes into account the single noise event by considering the peak noise value and the frequency of single events.314

At the minimum, the FAA should reconsider its current limit of 65 Ldn, and lower that standard as necessary.315 In the 1970s, ONAC recommended a DNL of 55 Ldn to limit the negative effects of noise on individuals.316 The office’s original work concerning the Ldn emphasized the limitations of this standard of measurement and the potential need to supplement it in appropriate cases.317 However, after ONAC was disbanded, the FAA disregarded ONAC’s precautionary warnings and adopted 65 Ldn as its universal measure, and the Agency has maintained that level ever since.318 Increasing numbers of studies show the detrimental impact of noise on communities which register high DNLs.319 The FAA should authorize independent studies to evaluate the adequacy of current measurement methods and implement new regulations enacting these findings.320

C. Liability for Aircraft Noise

Another approach to reducing airport noise pollution is to distribute the liability for damages caused by airport noise among the actors involved in its regulation. Because federal law does not preempt inverse condemnation and nuisance causes of action, citizens may have valid claims for damage to their health or property caused by airport noise. In Griggs v. Allegheny County, however, the U.S. Supreme Court established the rule that airport proprietors rather than the federal government are responsible for damages resulting from aircraft noise.321 This “single liability/shared responsibility” situation disproportionately places burdens on private property owners.322 These property owners are supposed to be protected by the “just compensation” clause of the Fifth Amendment, yet they do not receive reimbursement from the federal government for the money paid to plaintiffs in such actions.323

The rule of law espoused in Griggs is inconsistent with the inherent diversity among decisionmakers associated with the regulation of aircraft noise.324 The fact that an airport proprietor is solely liable for noise-related injuries limits the concern of airlines, other local governments, the states, and the federal government.325 Public and private sector interests should strive to compensate noise-afflicted property owners when fairness dictates.326 Compensation may also reduce the level of political controversy associated with airport development projects and airport operations.327 Compensation will most likely cause more efficient decisionmaking about airports and airways as well.328

D. More Funding Under AIP for Noise-Mitigation Projects

While improved technology and revised metrics for measuring airport noise are necessary to control airport noise pollution, in the short term, more funding for noise compatibility planning is required to ameliorate the current noise situation. State and local governments are largely dependent on FAA approval, and thus federal funds, in order to establish noise abatement programs.329 Because the FAA has much discretion in allocating its already insufficient AIP funds, airport proprietors are left with the responsibility of enforcing noise mitigation plans without adequate funding.330 In addition, passenger facility charges used to fund eligible airport-related projects are primarily used for capacity and safety programs rather than noise abatement efforts.331 The cost of landuse control measures used to ameliorate airport noise is not funded adequately by the federal government, nor do state and local governments have the resources to fund such measures.332

Prospective noise abatement actions, although not a permanent solution to the problem of airport noise pollution, do more to control the problem than retroactive damage suits and penalties. Although individuals are limited in the relief they can seek under common law doctrines such as nuisance, airport proprietors continue to remain responsible for any liability imposed.333 Damages paid by airport proprietors to individual property owners are an unnecessary use of the already limited funds available to proprietors. Noise abatement activities may further diminish the liability imposed on airport proprietors, thus freeing up funds to allocate to control and amelioration techniques.


The significant increase in air traffic over the past decades has resulted in a substantial number of noise complaints and consistently high DNL readings around airports located in the United States. Studies show both the pyschological and physiological damage aircraft noise causes in individuals. Although federal statutes and regulations have preempted state and local control over noise pollution, local entities remain responsible for implementing noise compatibility programs and regulating land use. This framework results in a complicated scheme of federal, state, and local legislation and case law, while airports and their surrounding communities are left to decipher their correct role. The FAA, as the implementer of federal noise abatement policy, has failed in many of its objectives. Additional steps such as the reestablishment of ONAC, a change in the DNL measurement of noise, shared liability for damage caused by aircraft noise, and more funding for noise mitigation projects need to be taken to address adequately the growing airport noise pollution problem in the United States.

1 See Donald F. Anthrop, The Noise Crisis, in NoIsE POLLUTION AND THE LAW 3, 14 (James L. Hildebrand ed., 1970).

2 See infra notes 3145 and accompanying text.

3 See Noise Control Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. SecSec4901-4918 (1994); see also 2 JOHN HENRY DAVIDSON & ORLANDO E. DELOGU, FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION 7-1 (1994). In 1970 Congress did adopt Title IV of the Clean Air Act authorizing EPA to study the noise problem and report to Congress their findings along with recommendations for legislation. See 42 U.S.C. Sec 7641; DAVIDSON & DELOGU, supra this note, at 7-1 n.2.

4 See infra Part II.

s See Anthrop, supra note 1, at 15 . 6 See infra Part V.

7 See infra Part IV.

8 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 40103 (1994).

9 See, e.g., Anthrop, supra note 1, at 15.

10 See, e.g., S. 951, 105th Cong. (1997); H.R. 536,,105th Cong. (1997); H.R. 1971, 104th Cong. (1996).

11 See S. 951, 105th Cong. (1997); H.R. 536, 106th Cong. (1997).

12 See id.

13 See id.

14 In the Senate, the proponents of the Quiet Communities Act attempted to incorporate the Act into Senate Bill 2279, the annual “housekeeping” bill for the FAA. See U.S. Congress, Bill Summary-Status for the 105th Congress (visited Feb. 8, 1999) . However, the Amendment (No. 3627) was defeated by a vote of 69-27 to table the amendment indefinitely. See id.

15 See Arline L. Bronzaft, A Voice to End the Government’s Silence on Noise, 23 HEARING REHABILITATION Q. (1998) (visited Oct. 2, 1998) .

16 See id.

17 See id. The Department of Defense (DOD), the FAA, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are the primary agencies responsible for addressing aviation noise impacts through general research and development actions. See Federal Interagency Committee on Noise, Letter of Understanding (1993) (visited Feb. 21,1999) . Other agencies, including EPA, have “mission requirements that require cognizance of aviation noise R&D products.” Id.

18 See generally Bronzaft, supra note 15.

19 See id.

20 See id.

21 See Anthrop, supra note 1, at 5; ALICE H. SUTER, NoISE AND ITS EFFECTS 3 (Nov. 1991) (report prepared for the Administrative Conference of the United States).

22 See Anthrop, supra note 1, at 5; SUTER, supra note 21, at 3.

23 See SUTER, supra note 21, at 3.

24 See id. Decibels are logarithmic rather than linear measures of sound and thus a small increase in decibels can represent a large increase in sound energy. See id.; DAVID P. CURRIE, POLLUTION: CASES AND MATERIALS 23 (1975). For example, a noise pressure level of 130 dB is ten times greater than one of 120 dB and 100 times as great as a noise pressure of 110 dB. See CURRIE, supra this note, at 23.

25 See SUTER, supra note 21, at 3.

26 See id.

27 See id. at 3-4.

28 See id. at 4. The DNL incorporates a 10 dB nighttime penalty from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., meaning that events occurring during that time are counted as 10 dB higher than they really are. See id. A variant of the DNL used in California is the community noise equivalent level (CNEL), which incorporates a five dB penalty for evening noise events, as well as the ten dB nighttime penalty. See id. The DNL and Leq measures have recently been criticized as inadequate indicators for gauging noise pollution. See id. The sound exposure level (SEL), an event’s sound level normalized to one second, is gaining popularity as a supplement to the DNL and the Leq for characterizing single events. See id.

29 See id. Because they use averaging, the metrics fail to describe the disturbance arising from

single events, especially low-flying aircraft, unexpected or newly occurring flights, or flights occurring in areas where quiet is a premium. See id.

8 See DAVIDSON & DELOGU, supra note 3, at 7-1; SUTER, supra note 21, at 1.



33 See SUTER, supra note 21, at 22. See generally NRDC, supra note 31; HANSEN & SANDERS, supra note 32. Disturbance of sleep is probably the most widespread source of distress caused by noise. See generally HANSEN & SANDERS, supra note 32. The indoor threshold for falling asleep is 35 to 40 dBA. See id. In addition, researchers recommend that nighttime noise levels not exceed 35 dBA. See id.

34 See Michael McCabe, Anti-Noise Crusaders Get Louder and Louder, S.F. CHRON., Feb. 19, 1998, at Al.

35See Sandra G. Boodman, Airport Noise Linked to Subtle Signs of Stress, WASH. POST, Feb. 17, 1998, at Z05.

36See DAVIDSON & DELOGU, supra note 3, at 7-2.

37See id. at 7-1.

38See id. at 7-2.

39 See id.

40 SUTER, supra note 21, at 11.

41 See id. at 7; see also Shapiro, supra note 32, at 4.

42 See SUTER, supra note 21, at 7; see also Shapiro, supra note 32, at 4.


44 See Technology to Reduce Aircraft Noise: Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Technology of the House Comm. on Science, 105th Cong. 1 (1997) (statement of Constance A. Morella, Chairwoman) [hereinafter Morella].

45 See Lyn Loyd Creswell, Airport Policy in the United States: The Need for Accountability, Planning, and Leadership, 19 TRANSP. LJ. 1, 10 (1990).

46 See id.

47 See id.

48 See id.

49 See Technology to Reduce Aircraft Noise: Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Technology of the House Comm. on Science, 105th Cong. 55-56 (1997) (statement of Donald W. MacGlashan, Citizens for the Abatement of Aircraft Noise, Inc.) [hereinafter MacGlashan].

50 See id. at 55. Although the FAA has adopted 65 dB, EPA has set 55 dB as the requisite level to protect against interference with outdoor activities, 45 dB for indoor activities, and 70 dB to protect against hearing loss. See SHAPIRo, supra note 32, at 4 n.18. As an example of noise levels, rustling leaves are 20 dB, a two-person conversation is 50 dB, average street noise is 70 dB, and a riveter creates 110 dB. See id. at 4 n.17.

51 See MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 56.

52 See id.

53 See id.

54 See discussion infra Part II.A-B.

55 See discussion infra Part II.A-B.

56 See discussion infra Part II.C.

57 Jack L. Litwin, Annotation, Airport Operations or Flight of Aircraft as Nuisance, 79 A.L.R. 3d 253, 259 (1977).

58 THOMPSON ON REAL PROPERTY, THOMAS EDITION 92 (David A. Thomas ed., 1994).

59 See Litwin, supra note 57, at 259, 264-66 (citing Warren Tp. School Dist. v. Detroit, 14 N.W.2d 134 (1944); Vanderslice v. Shawn, 27 A.2d 87 (1942)).

60 See id. at 260.

61 See id. (citing Delta Air Corp. v. Kersey, 20 S.E.2d 245 (1942); Thrasher v. Atlanta, 173 S.E. 817 (1934)).

62 See Litwin, supra note 57, at 260 (citing Greater Westchester Homeowners Assoc. v. Los Angeles, 603 P.2d 1329 (Cal. 1979); Delta Air Corp., 20 S.E.2d at 245).

63 Litwin, supra note 57, at 260.

64 See id. at 260-61; see also James M. Kramon, Noise Control: Traditional Remedies and a Proposal for Federal Action, in NOISE POLLUTION AND THE LAW 77, 84 (James L. Hildebrand ed., 1970).

65 See Litwin, supra note 67, at 261.

66 See id.

67 See id. Many courts have held that where an activity is beneficial to the community as a whole, and the property owner’s burden is no more severe than that imposed on the community in general, there can be either no remedy or a remedy limited to damages. See Kramon, supra note 64, at 84. Damages obtained in a nuisance action may be the loss of the rental or use value of property, or the value of any personal discomfort, inconvenience or injury to health. See Litwin, supra note 57, at 262.

68 See Owen v. City of Atlanta, 277 S.E.2d 338, 340 (1981).

69 See U.S. CONST. amend. V.

70 Id.

71 See Penn Cent. Transp. Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104, 122 (1978).

72 See Keith W. Bricklemyer & David Smolker, Inverse Condemnation, in CURRENT CONDEMNATION LAW 54, 54 (Alan T. Ackerman, ed. 1994); WILLIAM B. STOEBUCK, NONTRESPASSORY TAKINGS IN EMINENT DOMAIN 5 (1977). While virtually all states prohibit the “taking” of property, many states prohibit the “damaging” of public property without just compensation as well. See STOEBUCK, supra this note, at 5.

73 See Bricklemyer & Smolker, supra note 72, at 54.

74 See supra notes 69-73 and accompanying text. Governmental takings include federal, state and local governments as well as their administrative agencies.

75 See United States v. Clarke, 445 U.S. 253, 257 (1980).

76 Id. at 257.

77 See Penn Cent. Transp. Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104, 124 (1978); Brown v. United States, 73 F.3d 1100, 1102 (Fed. Cir. 1996).

78 See Bricklemyer & Smolker, supra note 72, at 69.

79See id. (citing Kimball Laundry v. United States, 338 U.S. 1 (1949); United States v. Dickinson, 331 U.S. 746 (1947)).

80 328 U.S. 256 (1946).

81 See id. at 267.

82 See id. at 259.

83 See id. at 266

84 See James D. Hill, Liability for Aircraft Noise: The Aftermath of Causby and Griggs, in NOIsE POLLUTION AND THE LAw 149, 168 (James L. Hildebrand ed., 1970).

85 See Griggs v. Allegheny County, 369 U.S. 84, 89-90 (1962). Although aircraft noise may

constitute a taking of property due to governmental authorization and regulation of air travel, the Supreme Court rejected arguments that the federal government should be liable for damages caused by aircraft noise. See infra notes 86-91 and accompanying text.

86 369 U.S. at 89-90.

87 See id. at 87, 89.

88 See id. at 89.

89 See id.

90 Id.

91 See Griggs, 369 U.S. at 89.

92 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 30.

93 Id.

94 See id. at 31.

95 See Kramon, supra note 64, at 92.

96 Id.; Shapiro, supra note 32, at 7.

97 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 7.

98 See id.

99 BOSTON, MASS., NOISE ORDINANCE 1626.1 (1997).

100 Id.

Unreasonable or excessive noise shall mean:

1. Noise measured in excess of 50 dBa between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 am., or in excess of 70 dBa at all other hours; or

2. In the absence of an applicable noise level standard or regulation of the Air Pollution control commission, any noise plainly audible at a distance of three hundred (300) feet ….


101 See REBECCA A. NIEDZIELSKI, MINNESOTA POLLUTION CONTROL AGENCY, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPULSE NOISE STUDY 2 (May 1991). Examples of these impulse noise events include: back-up alarms, whistles, bells, horns, sirens, fireworks, riveting, hammering, sonic booms and dogs barking. See id.

102 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 24.

103 See id.

104 See id.; Jeffrey Schoen, Comment, Airport Noise: How State and Local Governments Can Protect Airports From Urban Encroachment, 1986 ARIZ. ST. LJ. 309, 315 (1986).

105 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 38.

106 See id.

107 See id. This author argues that there are many reasons why air carriers are not very interested in finding necessary solutions concerning noise impacts including: landowners are not “customers” of airlines and thus are unable to influence the market; homeowners have historically lacked political support sufficient to challenge aviation industry decisions relating to noise abatement; and the airports, not the air carriers, are liable for noise injuries. See Creswell, supra note 45, at 39 n.92.

108 See discussion infra Part III.A-D.

109 See discussion infra Part III.A-D.

110 See discussion infra Part III.A-D.


112 Id. at 29-30.

113 See Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, 49 U.S.C. app. SecSec 401-722, repealed by Federal Aviation Administration Act of 1958, 49 U.S.C. SecSec 40101-40120 (1994). With the CAA, Congress created the Civil Aeronautics Board as an independent regulatory agency, bringing airlines into the family of regulatory agencies it had first established with railroads and motor carriers. See Suzanne Imes, Comment, Airline Passenger Facility Charges: What do they Mean for an Ailing Industry?, 60 J. AIR L. & COM. 1039, 1042 (1995). The airline industry remained regulated for forty years until Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. See id. at 1043, 1044.

114 49 U.S.C. SecSec 40101-40120.

115 Id.Sec 40103(a).

116 United States v. Causby, 328 U.S. 256, 260 (1945) (citing 49 U.S.C. Sec 176(a), which was replaced by 49 U.S.C. Sec 40103(a)(1), which currently grants the U.S. government “exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States”).

117 Id. (citing 49 U.S.C. 60 403, which was replaced by 49 U.S.C. Sec 40103(a)(2), which currently grants a “public right of transit through the navigable air space”). Navigable air space was defined as “airspace above the minimum safe altitudes of flight prescribed by the Civil Aeronautics Authority.” Id. (citing 49 U.S.C. Sec 180, which was replaced by 49 U.S.C Sec 40102(a)(30), which now defines navigable air space as the “airspace above minimum safe altitudes of flight prescribed by regulations . . . including airspace needed to ensure safety in the takeoff and landing of aircraft”).

118 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 106 (1994); see also Gale Schlesinger, Airport Noise: The Proprietor’s Dilemma, 16 TRANSP. LJ. 333, 334 (1988).

119 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 40101; STEPHEN, supra note 111, at 31.

120 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 40103.

121 See id.; see also John J. Jenkins, Jr., Comment, The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of

1990: Has Congress Finally Solved the Aircraft Noise Problem?, 59 J. AIR L. & CoM. 1023, 1030 (1994); Schlesinger, supra note 118, at 334. The Administrator of the FAA is given broad authority to regulate the use of navigable airspace in order to “ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace” and for “protecting individuals and property on the ground.” 49 U.S.C. Sec 40103(b).

122 See DAVIDSON & DELOGU, supra note 3, at 12-6.

123 See Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1031.

124 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 44715.

125 See id.

126 See id. Sec 44715(b); Creswell, supra note 45, at 54-55.

127 C.F.R. Sec 36 (1997).

128 See id.; Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1032; Schoen, supra note 104, at 312.

129 14 C.F.R. Sec 36. Aircraft which were certified prior to the publication of Part 36, and which were not thereafter modified to satisfy the new standard, became known as “stage one” aircraft. See Creswell, supra note 45, at 55. Aircraft meeting the 1969 standard are now referred to as “stage two” aircraft. Id. Stage two airplanes include Boeing models 727-200, 737-200 and McDonnell Douglas model DC-9. See FAA: Aircraft noise levels continue to decline, Secretary Slater announces, M2 Presswire, Oct.1997, available in 1997 WL 14464753 [hereinafter M2 Presswire]. In 1977, the FAA adopted a stricter standard for aircraft noise emissions for all aircraft certified after that date. See Creswell, supra note 45, at 55. These aircraft, known as “stage three” aircraft, are subject to the strictest noise restrictions. 14 C.ER. Sec C36.5. Stage three airplanes include Boeing models 737-300, 757, 777, and McDonnell Douglas model MD-90. See M2 Presswire, supra this note.

130 See Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1032. The FAA amended FAR 36 in 1973, making it applicable to older aircraft designs, manufactured after December 1, 1973, but these regulations became effective in 1977. See Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1032 n.59.

131See 42 U.S.C. . Sec 7641 (1994).

132 See id. Sec 7641(a)-(b).

133 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 8.

134 See id.

135 42 U.S.C. SecSec 4901-4918 (1994). The Noise Control Act of 1972 amended portions of the 1968 Amendment of the 1958 Federal Aviation Act. See id.

136 42 U.S.C. Sec 4901(a)-(b). While the Noise Control Act delegated much jurisdiction over noise abatement to the federal government, Congress intended to leave some aspects of noise control to state and local governments. See DAVIDSON & DELOGU, supra note 3, at 73. In 1978, Congress enacted the Quiet Communities Act which amended the Noise Control Act of 1972 to emphasize the significance of state and local control of noise, particularly with respect to nonproduct sources of noise. See ad.; 42 U.S.C. 4913. Nonproduct sources are “amenable to control by traditional planning, siting, and landuse control tools, the adoption of point-source noise emission standards or ambient-noise standards, and time-of-day or other operational limitations.” DAVIDSON & DELOGU, suprA note 3, at 7-4.

137 42 U.S.C. Sec 4901(a)(3).

138 See 61A AM. JuR 2D Pollution Control Sec268 (1981).

139 See 42 U.S.C. Sec 4903.

140 See id.; 49 U.S.C. Sec 44715(c) (1994).

141 See 49 U.S.C. Sec44715. The FAA retained the right to reject any of the EPA-recommended regulations if the FAA determined that the regulations were not “economically reasonable, technologically practicable, [nor] appropriate for the applicable aircraft, aircraft engine, appliance, or certificate.” Id. Sec 44715(b).

142 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 5556 n.151; Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1033. In two reports to Congress, EPA stated that the problem of aircraft noise was primarily “institutional rather than technical.” Creswell, supra note 45, at 55-56 n.151.

143 See 143 CONG. REc. S6186 (1997); see also Shapiro, supra note 32, at 16. From December 1974 to October 1976, EPA submitted eleven proposals to the FAA concerning aircraft noise. See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 16. The FAA adopted one proposal in full and parts of two others. See id. at 16 n.107.

144 42 U.S.C. Sec 4913 (1994); see also Shapiro, supra note 32, at 17.

145 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 17-18.

146 See id. at 1; 143 CONG. REC. S6186.

147 See Alice H. Suter, Noise Abatement: Quiet!!! Save a Nation’s Eardrums, WASH. POST, Nov. 12, 1989, at D3.

148 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 2.

149 See id. “Of the twenty-eight environmental and health and safety statutes passed between 1958 and 1989, the Noise Control Act of 1972 . . . stands alone in having been stripped of budgetary support. Congress, however, did not repeal the Noise Act when it eliminated ONAC’s funding, so EPA continues to have a statutory responsibility to implement it.” Id.

150 See 14 C.F.R. Sec91.801-.877 (1997); Vicky Tsilas, Note, An Analysis of the Phase-Out Provisions of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, 4 FORDHAM ENVTL. L. J. 83, 86 (1992).

151 See 14 C.F.R. . Sec 91.803.

152 See Tsilas, supra note 160, at 86.

153 See id. at 87.

154 49 U.S.C. 4 Sec 47601-47510 (1994); see also Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1034; Tsilas, supra note 150, at 87.

155 Implementation of ASNAA and its policies occurred two years prior to the elimination of ONAC’s funding.

156 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 47502. The Secretary of Transportation is directed to:

(1) establish a single system of measuring noise that

(A) has a highly reliable relationship between projected noise exposure and surveyed reactions of individuals to noise; and

(B) is applied uniformly in measuring noise at airports and the surrounding area; (2) establish a single system for determining the exposure of individuals to noise

resulting from airport operations, including noise intensity, duration, frequency, and time of occurrence; and

(3) identify land uses normally compatible with various exposures of individuals to noise.


157 See id. Sec47508.

158 See id. Sec 47503-47505.

159 See Schoen, supra note 104, at 314.

160 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 47502.

161 See id. Sec 47503.

162 See id. Sec 47504(c). For a full discussion of the components and funding of noise compatibility programs, see Part V.

163 See generally 49 U.S.C. SecSec 47506, 47507.

164 See id. Sec 47506.

165 See id.

166 See id. Sec 47506(a)(1).

167 See id. Sec 47507.

168 See Schoen, supra note 104, at 32S27.

169 See id.

170 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 59.

171 49 U.S.C. SecSec 47521-47533; see also Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1036; Shapiro, supra note 32, at 59; Tilas, supra note 150, at 87. Congress enacted ANCA in the waning moments of the 1990 legislative session. See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 58. Citizens groups that opposed the passage of ANCA claim that the sponsors of the legislation were able to get it passed by Congress during the chaos of the last few days of the session. See id. at 59 n.350. Opponents argue that no public hearings were held, and although committee staffers consulted industry lobbyists during the bill’s markup, representatives of airport operators were not consulted. See id.

172 See 49 U.S.C. Sec Sec47521.

173 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 59 n.350.

174 See 49 U.S.C. SecSec 47524, 47528; see also Jenkins supra note 121, at 1037; Tsilas, supra note 150, at 90.

175 See 49 US.C. Sec 47524; see also Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1037; ‘ilas, supra note 150, at 90. For a discussion of aircraft noise levels, see supra notes 128-30 and accompanying text.

176 See 49 US.C. Sec 47528; see also Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1037; Tsilas, supra note 150, at 90. Some airlines are complying with the stage two airplane phaseout by installing FAA certified stage three noise level hushkits to their stage two fleet. See M2 Presswire, supra note 129. As of December 1996, a report submitted to Congress by DOT stated that 75.5% of the airplanes operating in the U.S. met stage three noise requirements. See id.


178 See id.

179 See U.S. CONST. art. I, Sec 8, cl. 3.

18 See STEPHEN, supra note 111, at 28.

181 Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1, 211 (1824); see also STEPHEN, supra note 111, at 28; Schlesinger, supra note 118, at 334.

182 U.S. CONST., art. VI, cl. 2.

183 See Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230, rev’d, 331 U.S. 247 (1947); see also Ann Thornton Field & Frances K. Davis, Can the Legal Eagles Use the Ageless Preemption

Doctrine to Keep American Aviators Soaring Above the Clouds and Into the Twenty-First Century?, 62 J. AIR L. & CoM. 315, 325 (1996).

184 See Hillsborough County v. Automated Med. Labs, 471 U.S. 707, 713 (1985).

185 See id. For purposes of the Supremacy Clause, constitutionality of local ordinances is analyzed in the same way as that of state laws. See, e.g., id.; City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, 411 U.S. 624 (1973).

186 See Hillsborough, 471 U.S. at 713.

187 Id.; Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee, 464 U.S. 238, 248 (1984).

188 Hillsborough, 471 U.S. at 713.

189 See id.

190 Id.

191 Id. (citing Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941)).

192 See Field & Davis, supra note 183, at 333.

193 See id.

194 See id. at 334 (citing Evansville-Vanderburgh Airport Auth. Dist. v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 405 U.S. 707 (1972); Pan Am. World Airways, Inc. v. United States, 371 U.S. 296 (1963)).

195 See Noise Control Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. SecSec 49014918 (1994); see also Part IVA and accompanying notes.

196 411 U.S. 624, 638 (1973).

197 See id. at 625-26.

196 See id. at 638. Justice Rehnquist wrote the dissenting opinion in Burbank, a 5-4 decision. He criticized the majority’s examination of the existing legislation concerning control over aviation. See id. at 652 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting). Because the FAA and EPA “have exclusive authority to reduce noise by promulgating regulations and implementing standards directed at one or several of the causes of the level of noise, local governmental bodies are not thereby foreclosed from dealing with the noise problem by every other conceivable method.” Id.

199 See Burbank, 411 U.S. at 628.

200 Id. at 639.

201 See id. at 640.

202 See National Helicopter Corp. of Am. v. City of New York, 952 F. Supp. 1011, 1023 (S.D.N.Y. 1997).

203 See, e.g., British Airways Bd. v. Port Auth. of N.Y. and NJ., 564 F.2d 1002 td Cir. 1977) (preempting prohibition on airport use by particular aircraft); United States v. City of Blue Ash, 487 F. Supp. 135 (S.D. Ohio 1978) (preempting route restrictions), aff’d, 621 F.2d 227 (6th Cir. 1980) cited in National Helicopter, 952 F. Supp. at 1023.

204 See Gustafson v. City of Lake Angelus, 76 F.3d 778, 786 (6th Cir. 1996).

205 See Blue Sky Entertainment, Inc. v. Town of Gardiner, 711 F. Supp. 678, 683 (N.D.N.Y. 1989) (FAA stated: “lb the extent the ordinance regulates land use in the Town of Gardiner, it is not preempted by federal regulation of aviation”); Citizens Against Burlington, Inc. v. Busey, 938 F.2d 190, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1991). In an Environmental Impact Statement, the FAA wrote: “In the present system of federalism, the FAA does not determine where to build and develop civilian airports, as an owner/operator. Rather, the FAA facilitates airport development by providing Federal financial assistance, and reviews and approves or disapproves revisions to Airport Layout Plans at Federally funded airports.” Busey, 938 F.2d at 197, quoted in Gustafson, 76 F.3d at 785.

206 See 14 C.FR. 157.7 (1997), cited in Gustafson, 76 F.3d at 785. “[An FAA] determination does not relieve the proponent of responsibility for compliance with any local law, ordinance or regulation, or state or Federal regulation.” Gustafson, 76 F.3d at 785.

207 See 14 C.F.R. 157.7.

208 See discussion supra Part IV.A.

209 See City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc., 411 U.S. 624, 63S36 n.14 (1973).

210 See id. The Supreme Court emphasized the distinction between an entity’s proprietary and police powers: “[We] are concerned here not with an ordinance imposed by the City of Burbank as ‘proprietor’ of the airport, but with the exercise of police power.” Id.

211 San Diego Unified Port Dist. v. Gianturco, 651 F.2d 1306, 1316 (9th Cir. 1981).

212 See, e.g., id.; Pirolo v. City of Clearwater, 711 F.2d 1006, 1009 (llth Cir. 1983).

213 See City & County of San Francisco v. F.A.A., 942 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991).

214 National Helicopter Corp. of Am. v. City of New York, 952 F. Supp. 1011, 1024 (S.D.N.Y. 1997).

215 See City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc., 411 U.S. 624, 635-6 (1973); Gianturco, 651 F.2d at 1316.

216 S. REP. No. 90-1353, at 6 (1968), quoted in Burbank, 411 U.S. at 635-6 n.14.

217 See Burbank, 411 U.S. at 635-36 n.14; Gianturco, 651 F.2d at 1316-17.

218 See Griggs v. County of Allegheny, 369 U.S. 84, 89 (1962); see also Gianturco, 651 F.2d at 1316; Harrison v. Schwartz, 572 A.2d 528, 533 (Md. 1990).

219 See Gianturco, 651 F.2d at 1316-17; Harrison, 572 A2d at 533.

220 United States v. City of Blue Ash, 487 F. Supp. 135, 137 (S.D. Ohio 1978) (emphasis added).

221 See Field & Davis, supra note 183, at 340-41 n.94 (citing National Aviation v. City of Hayward, 418 F. Supp 417, 421 (N.D. Cal. 1976); Air Transp. Ass’n of Am. v. Crotti, 389 F. Supp. 58, 63 (N.D. Cal. 1975)).

222 659 F.2d 100, 104 (9th Cir. 1981).

223 Id.

224 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 47521 (1994).

235 Id. Sec 47521(3)-(4) (emphasis added).

226 See Greater Westchester Homeowner Ass’n v. City of Los Angeles, 603 P.2d 1329, 1336 (Cal. 1979).

227 See id. at 1334.

228 See id. at 1336; see also discussion supra Part II.B.

229 See Westchester Home ers Ass’n, 603 P.2d at 1335.

230 Id. at 1329.

231 See id. at 1335.

232 Id.

233 See id. at 1336.

234 See, e.g., Owen v. City of Atlanta, 277 S.E.2d 338, 340 (Ga. Ct. App. 1981), aff’d, 282 S.E.2d 906 (1981); Krueger v. Mitchell, 332 N.W.2d 733, 739 (Wis. Ct. App. 1983).

235 49 U.S.C. 40120(c) (1994); see also Wood v. City of Huntsville, 384 So. 2d 1081 (Ala. 1980); Smart v. City of Los Angeles, 112 Cal. App. 3d 232 (Cal. Ct. App. 1980).

236 See Bieneman v. City of Chicago, 864 F.2d 463, 472 (7th Cir. 1988).

237 See id. at 473.

238 See id.

239 Id.

240 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 47504 (1994); Schoen, supra note 104, at 310.

241 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 47504(a)(2).

242 See discussion infra Part V.B.

243 See discussion infra Part V.A.

244 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 41; Schoen, supra note 104, at 321.

245 See Schoen, supra note 104, at 320.

246 See id.

247 See id. at 323.

248 See id. at 329.

249 See id.; see also Creswell, supra note 45, at 44-45.

250 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 45; Schoen, supra note 104, at 329.

251 See Schoen, supra note 104, at 327.

252 See id.

253 See id.

254 See id.

255 See id. Zoning regulations must meet certain constitutional mandates to constitute a valid exercise of a local government’s powers:

First, the regulation must be reasonably related to the public health, safety, and welfare; if ruled `arbitrary and unreasonable,’ the regulation becomes a ‘taking’ which requires payment of just compensation under the fifth amendment. Second, the zoning regulation usually cannot be enforced retroactively without payment of just compensation; preexisting nonconforming uses have the right to remain for a ‘reasonable’ to indefinite length of time. Third, because a property owner is deemed to have the right to reasonably beneficial use of his property, zoning regulations cannot be used for the purpose of depressing the values of property that the government wishes to acquire.

Id. at 328.

256 See Schoen, supra note 104, at 327.

257 See id. at 328-29.

258 “The common methods for sound insulating structures include: sealing or weatherstripping windows, doors, vents and external openings; replacing existing hollow-core doors with solid doors; installing central air conditioning, special ceiling and wall panels, and double-glazed windows; eliminating windows and insulating entryways, attics and crawl spaces. See Creswell, supra note 45, at 42 n.105; Schoen, supra note 104, at 324.

259 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 42; Schoen, supra note 104, at 324.

260 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 42; Schoen, supra note 104, at 324. Based on a 1985 study, one author notes that the construction costs associated with sound insulation may run about $20,000 per residential structure. See Creswell, supra note 45, at 42.

261 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 42; Schoen, supra note 104, at 324.

262 14 C.F.R. Sec 151 (1997).


264 See id.

265 See Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982, 49 U.S.C. SecSec 47101-47131; Creswell, supra note 46, at 62. Under this act, Congress states, “It is in the public interest to recognize the effects of airport capacity expansion projects on aircraft noise. Efforts to increase capacity

through any means can have an impact on surrounding communities. Noncompatible land uses around airports must be reduced and efforts to mitigate noise must be given a high priority.” 49 U.S.C. Sec 47101(c).

266 See Creswell, supra note 46, at 76. The NPIAS lists all commercial and reliever airports and many general aviation airports. The bulk of the plan is a state by state catalogue of airports, including information about numbers of based aircraft, annual operations, planned projects, and a summary of selected policies and concerns related to airport development. See id.

267 See id. at 78.

268 See SIXTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT, supra note 177, at 36.

269 See Creswell, supra note 46, at 78.

260 See id. at 78-79.

261 See id.

262 See id.

263 See id.

274 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 40117(b)(1) (1994). PFCs are essentially head taxes, in which an airport assesses $1.00, $2.00, or $3.00 on all departing passengers. See id. Sec 40117; 14 C.F.R. Sec 158.5 (1997).

275 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 40117(a)(3).

276 See Passenger Facility Charges, 14 C.FR. Sec 158 (1997).

277 See Reauthorization of the FAA and Airport Improvement Program in Light of the Recommendations of the National Civil Aviation Review Commission: Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Aviation of the House Comm. on Transp. and Infrastructure, 105th Cong.1 (1998) (statement of John Duncan, Chairman, Subcomm. on Aviation) [hereinafter Duncan].

278 See 14 C.F.R. Sec 158.

279 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 47526; Notice and Approval of Airport Noise and Access Restrictions, 14 C.F.R. Sec 161.501(a). “Under no conditions shall any airport operator receive revenues under the provisions of the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 or impose or collect a passenger facility charge under section 1113(e) of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 if the FAA determines that the airport is imposing any noise or access restriction not in compliance with the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 or this part.” 14 C.F.R. Sec 161.501(b).

280 See FiscaL 1999 Budget for the Federal Aviation Admin.: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Transp. of the House Comm. on Appropriations, 105th Cong. (1998) (statement of Betty Ann Krahnke, National Organization to Insure a Sound-Controlled Environment), available in 1998 WL 42050 [hereinafter Krahnke].

281 See Noise Control Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. SecSec 49014918 (1994); Quiet Communities Act of 1978, 42 U.S.C. 4913 (1994); Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979, 49 U.S.C. SecSec 47501-47510 (1994); Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, 49 U.S.C. SecSec 47521-47533 (1994).

282 See Kramon, supra note 64, at 92; Shapiro, supra note 32, at 6.

283 See 49 U.S.C. Sec40103.

284 See 49 U.S.C. SecSec 47501-47510, 47521-47533.

285 See id. Sec 47504.

286 See 14 C.F.R. Sec 151 (1997).

287 See 49 U.S.C. Sec 47526; 14 C.FR. Sec 161.501(a).

288 See generally 49 U.S.C. Sec47526; 14 C.F.R. Sec 161.501(a); Dade Hayes, FAA May Hinder Airport Noise Plan, L.A. TmIrs, Sept. 6, 1996, at B3.

289 See Darrell Satzman, Expansion of Airport Noise Curfew Ordered, L.A. TIMEs, Sept. 7, 1997, at B3.

290 Hayes, supra note 288, at B3.

291 See Satzman, supra note 289, at B3.

292 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 19.

293 See id.; Suter, supra note 147, at D03.

294 See MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 55.

295 See SUTER, supra note 21, at 7.

296 See MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 57.

297 See id.; Morella, supra note 44, at 2.

298 See SUTER, supra note 21, at 36.

299 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 59.

300 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 53.

301 See id. at 53-54.

302 See id. at 54.

303 See MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 58.

304 See NRDC, supra note 31.

305 See Jenkins, supra note 121, at 1033; Shapiro, supra note 32, at 16.

306 See Bronzaft, supra note 15.

307 See id.

308 See id.

309 See NRDC, supra note 31.

310 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 60; SUTER, supra note 21, at 4.

311 See NRDC, supra note 31; MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 55; SUTER, supra note 21, at 4.

312 See NRDC, supra note 31; MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 55. “This averaging process smoothes out the peaks, and it is the peak aircraft noise which is so intrusive. Noise levels at 85 and 95 dBA are not easy to ignore, especially at night when one is trying to sleep.” MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 556.

313 See MacGlashan, supra note 49, at 556.

314 See id.

315 See id.; Shapiro, supra note 32, at 60.

als See NRDC, supra note 31; Shapiro, supra note 32, at 4 n.18. A 1995 study by the National Resource Defense Council concluded that the “threshold of 65 dB significantly underestimates the level at which many people are annoyed or impacted by aircraft noise.” NRDC, supra note 31.

317 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 60 n.355.

318 See id.

319 See generally NRDC, supra note 31; HANSEN & SANDERS, supra note 32; SUTER, supra note 21, at 36.

320 See Shapiro, supra note 32, at 60. “EPA’s results are more likely to receive general acceptance since EPA does not share the FAA’s institutional conflict of interest.” Id.

321 See Griggs v. Allegheny County, 369 U.S. 84, 89-90 (1962).

322 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 30.

323 See id. at 88.

324 See id. at 7.

325 See id. at 31.

326 See id. at 88.

327 See Creswell, supra note 45, at 88.

328 See id.

329 See id. at 78.

330 See id. at 78-79.

331 See Duncan, supra note 277, at 1.

332 See discussion supra Part V.A.

333 See Bieneman v. City of Chicago, 864 F.2d 463, 472-73 (7th Cir. 1988).

Kristin L. Falzone*


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