Thursday, August 10, 2017
Last month Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas attempted to gain a special exception to the DCA perimeter rule (which limits flight distances to and from Reagan National Airport to 1,250 miles), securing himself a non-stop flight from Washington D.C. to San Antonio. This would have opened the floodgates to other lawmakers seeking convenient flights home and further expanded operations at an already severely congested airport.
The communities living beneath DCA flightpaths are bearing the brunt of this expansion. In 2015 the FAA implemented NextGen, a satellite-based flight control system, which allows for closely stacked take-offs and concentrates formerly dispersed flightpaths into one narrow corridor. It is the functional equivalent of having all Beltway-area traffic diverted solely to Sherwood Hall Lane.
In neighborhoods like mine that suddenly find themselves under this new flightpath, planes now screech overhead in one-minute intervals or less, often for hours on end, starting at 5:30 a.m. and relentlessly continuing until late into the night. It disrupts sleep and work and makes enjoying the outdoors impossible.
Two years ago when I first noticed how bad the noise had suddenly become, I called the DCA noise complaint hotline but was not told anything about NextGen. I was told to close my windows and talk to my representatives. I did both.
In 2017 several neighbors formed the “South Flow Alliance For Quiet Skies” (https://www.facebook.com/southflowalliance). The SFA has the strong support of Supervisor Dan Storck, Del. Paul Krizek, and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer. Last month they were instrumental in helping to defeat Rep. Cuellar's amendment and prevent the increase of flights out of DCA, at least for now.
Writing to or calling your representatives makes a difference and I urge everyone suffering from the incessant airplane noise to do so. Contacts and template letters can be found on the SFA facebook page. You can also log noise complaints with the airport at http://viewpoint.bksv.com/dca3.