Northwest D.C. Neighborhood Associations file Opening Brief to challenge disruptive new aircraft noise created by the FAA’s new northern departure flight path

Residents of communities near the Potomac including Georgetown are increasingly subjected to excessive aircraft noise, eroding the quality of life and damaging property values. In Spring 2015, the FAA authorized a new northern flight path called LAZIR that brings planes over Georgetown and Georgetown University and nearby communities including Foggy Bottom, Foxhall, Hillandale, Burleith, Colony Hill and Palisades as early as 5 am and well after midnight. The number of flights has also increased. The resulting significant increase in aircraft noise is disruptive to the peace and quiet of all residents near the new flight path.

As a result of residents’ growing frustration with this nightly elevation in noise levels, in August 2015, Citizens Association of Georgetown and the other communities near the Potomac River, joined by Georgetown University, filed a Petition for Review of the new flight path with the DC Federal Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the new northern route as unlawful. CAG vs FAA, DC Cir Case No. 15-1285. The Petitioners also formed the DC Fair Skies Coalition to pursue aircraft noise mitigation and filed a formal petition with the FAA seeking relief from the aircraft noise this new route has caused. Not only are residents seeking relief from this noise, but Mayor Muriel Bowser, City Councilman Jack Evans and all at large City Council members declared their support for an immediate change to this flight path and co-signed the petition.

The Coalition had hoped to come to a settlement with the FAA via mediation but unfortunately mediation failed. As a result, the Coalition recently filed its Opening Brief with the Court of Appeals. The brief argues that the FAA improperly instituted LAZIR without the required environmental review of noise impacts and did so without any notice to the impacted communities or their elected representatives. The brief explains why an environmental review of LAZIR is required and was not performed and seeks a Court order requiring the FAA to revert to the former flight path for northern departures until the required review is performed. 

We expect that the FAA will file its response to the brief and the Coalition will then file its reply. We expect oral argument to be scheduled before summer.  

If you are frustrated by aircraft noise, please support the Coalition’s Aircraft Noise Fund. Appellate litigation is a marathon not a sprint and we need to raise an additional $60,000 more to continue to fight the FAA. Please donate now at www.dcfairskies.org/donate.