Vianair South Of Airport

KDCA - South of Airport

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Project Overview

Aircraft noise has been a growing concern among residents near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) since the introduction of jet service in the 1960s. Annual operations have grown steadily, increasing noise impacts in communities surrounding DCA. While DCA is an important transportation asset for the region, the noise associated with flights into and out of DCA impacts the quality of life for residents, particularly those situated along the Potomac River.

In order to help identify strategies to reduce noise impacts for communities north of DCA, Vianair Consulting (formerly ABCx2), an airport noise consulting firm, was hired by Montgomery County, Maryland and Arlington County, Virginia in 2020. Through a collaborative effort, which included the participation of community and staff representatives from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA)-sponsored DCA Community Working Group (CWG), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and MWAA, Vianair recommended changes to the DCA airspace and flight procedures. Some of the recommendations have been implemented. Others are still being reviewed and/or tested by the FAA. The expected result of these changes will be to reduce aircraft noise exposure for the communities north of DCA.

Following the success of the North of Airport project, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Prince George’s County hired Vianair to conduct a similar effort on behalf of the communities south of DCA. While this work follows a similar model, the focus of the project is to reduce noise impacts in communities south of DCA.  The duration of this project study is 24 months. The project started in May 2023 with the contract funding shared equally by the three jurisdictions.

Project Team

Local engagement is key to this project’s success. The project includes two working groups; a Steering Committee and a Design Team. The membership and roles of each are described below.

 South of Airport Steering Committee

The project Steering Committee is comprised of staff representatives from the three jurisdictions leading this effort. The Steering Committee provides direction to the Vianair project team and to the Design Team.

City of Alexandria

  • William Skrabak – Deputy Director, Department of Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES)
  • Felipe Ip – Acting Environmental Manager, T&ES
  • Melissa Atwood – Senior Environmental Specialist, T&ES

Fairfax County

  • Joseph Gorney – Principal Environmental Planner, Department of Planning and Development
  • Corinne Bebek – Senior Environmental Planner, DPD

Prince George’s County

  • Dawn Hawkins-Nixon – Associate Director Department of the Environment (DoE)
  • Deborah Patrick – Special Assistant to the Director, DoE

South of Airport Design Team

The project Design Team is made up of representatives from the DCA Community Working Group (CWG) South of Airport Subcommittee. The Design Team will work in collaboration with the Vianair procedure designers and staff to develop recommended modifications to existing airspace and flight procedures, in an effort to reduce aircraft noise impacts for communities south of DCA.

The design team’s work started with development of a “Design Philosophy.” The design philosophy establishes a general prioritization when analyzing airspace and flight procedure changes. The design philosophy requires consensus of the design group members.  The final design philosophy that was agreed upon is provided below:

  1. Maximize flight paths over the center of the Potomac River and “compatible” areas, including industrial areas, major highways, etc. 
  2. Maximize altitude – Use Optimized Profile Descent* (OPD) to reduce noise over noise-sensitive areas. Analyze and recommend use of Noise Abatement Departure Profile.
  3. Increase track variability – Reduce concentration over noise-sensitive areas.
  4. Avoid disproportionate impact to any single entity (county, town, etc.).
  5. Minimize overhead flights of noise sensitive areas, schools, hospitals, churches, and historic sites.

* When flying an Optimized Profile Descent (OPD) aircraft can continuously descend from cruising altitude until close to the airport instead of descending and leveling off multiple times. These procedures decrease fuel consumption, emissions, and noise because pilots can stay at higher, more fuel-efficient altitudes closer to the airport, and avoid adjusting the thrust lever and applying the speed brakes at each lower altitude.

(Source: Federal Aviation Administration, https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/reporting-benefits/capabilities#opd)

 

Community Representatives

  • Travis Ludwig (City of Alexandria) – Captain with United Airlines, CWG representative
  • Norman Leader – City of Alexandria CWG representative, Retired Air Traffic Controller
  • Bob Meier (Fairfax County) – CWG representative, Fairfax County Airports Advisory Committee (AAC) member
  • Mike Rioux (Fairfax County) – CWG representative, President of JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, Fairfax County AAC member
  • Eric Woods (Prince George’s County) – CWG representative, Prince George’s County – Ft. Washington
  • Bill Parker (Prince George’s County) – CWG representative, Prince George’s County – Accokeek

The Vianair Consulting Team

  • James Allerdice, Chief of Consulting Operations
  • Jason Schwartz, Manager, Airports and Community
  • Garry Hill, Airspace and Procedure Designer
  • Mark Dillon, Airspace and Procedure Designer

For more information, email the project team at: [email protected]

 Locality Webpages & Points of Contact

City of Alexandria

Fairfax County

Prince George’s County

 

June 2023-April 2024

 

Final Baseline Completion:  April 2024

 

This project will begin with a baseline assessment. This analysis assesses aircraft operations, flight patterns, and noise exposure to establish an understanding of the “baseline” (historical and existing) conditions, which will serve as a foundation when considering and analyzing new strategies to reduce noise impacts.

 

The consulting team will conduct an analysis of aircraft operations and aircraft noise exposure between 2014 and 2022. The focus will be the communities south of DCA, specifically, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Prince George’s County. Specific datasets to be included in the baseline assessment will include, but are not limited to:

 

  • DCA aircraft operations data (fleet mix, total operations (takeoffs & landings), runway use, etc.).
  • Airspace and flight procedures (arrivals and departures).
  • Flight paths and patterns.
  • Aircraft noise exposure.
  • Community noise impacts, noise complaints, and community concerns.

 

Though technical in nature, the baseline assessment report is intended to be understandable by non-aviation audiences, including local policymakers and the public.

 

Component I deliverables will include a Baseline Assessment Summary Report, which will be published electronically to enable efficient distribution and availability to the public.

 

Supplemental materials to support community engagement and outreach will include data visualizations that allow an understanding of the above information by the public.

 

Component II of the project includes identification, design, and analysis of strategies to reduce aircraft noise impacts in communities within the study area.  This may include the development of new or modified flight procedures and recommended changes to existing policies or practices to reduce the community’s exposure to aircraft noise.

 

 Vianair understands that communities are impacted by aircraft noise and, are, therefore, key stakeholders in identifying and evaluating potential solutions. A key objective of the baseline assessment is to understand community perspectives, concerns, and impacts. These inputs will be key drivers for Component II. Community engagement will be an integral part of this effort and will continue throughout the project. Additionally, the Design Team, tasked with helping to design and evaluate strategies for reducing community noise impacts (including changes in airspace and flight procedures), will fully consider community input. Additionally, all recommendations require the consensus of all representatives of both the Design Team and Steering Committee.

 

 

Component II deliverables will include a written report documenting the process used to identify, evaluate, prioritize, and select recommendations. The Component II report will include a summary of “Next Steps” for moving forward toward implementation and for maintaining the support of the applicable agencies and organizations.

 

 

Supplemental materials to support community engagement and outreach will include data visualizations to allow an understanding of the above information by the public.

Starting Mid – April 2024

Because of community aircraft noise impacts, the three jurisdictions, Vianair and the Project Team believe that it is important to involve community members in identifying, evaluating, and recommending solutions. Community buy-in also increases the likelihood of Airport and FAA approval, which will be required for implementation.  To gain regional support for alternatives and recommendations, it is important that communities understand the implications of potential strategies, including both reductions in noise impacts for certain areas and potential increases in other areas. The successful outcome of this effort requires not only the identification of strategies that will reduce community noise impacts but, just as importantly, obtaining buy-in from both the aviation industry and community stakeholders.

The Project Team will play a central role in facilitating community engagement throughout the project. Community engagement will be used to solicit project input, identify noise impacts, and generate potential mitigation measures. Ongoing outreach will be used to keep the public informed of the project’s progress. Public input will include both community workshops and presentations to MWAA’s Community Working Group (CWG), which would include members of the project Design Team. The Design Team will work alongside the Vianair project team in identifying noise abatement strategies, evaluating and assessing those strategies, and recommending particular strategies to pursue.

Public outreach will include the preparation and publication of informational materials, project briefings, and press releases; hosting public meetings; and the continued development and maintenance of the project website.

Component III will include public meetings (virtual and/or in-person), and project briefings. Community engagement will be used to share information and to enable two-way conversations with impacted communities. Community briefings are planned for key phases of the project. Planned events can be found on the Meetings and Events section of this website.

In addition to public meetings, the project website will be used as a hub for public information, including project documents, presentations, meeting summaries, scheduled events, and links to social media channels. The website will also include tools enabling the community to provide input and to communicate with the project team. For more information, interested parties may also email the project team at: [email protected].

 Ongoing for the duration of the project.

Vianair has a history of successful collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other industry stakeholders (to include airport management, airlines, etc.) to develop effective and implementable solutions to reduce community impacts associated with airports and aircraft operations.

 

Throughout the project, the Vianair Team will work with key industry stakeholders, advocating for communities south of DCA and encouraging collaboration among both community and industry stakeholders. Sustained collaboration and cooperation with industry stakeholders and decision-makers will increase the likelihood of success of this effort, which ultimately includes the implementation of recommendations to reduce community noise impacts while facilitating safe and efficient aircraft operations at DCA.

 

The Vianair team will attend meetings with industry stakeholders,  including MWAA, DCA, and the FAA, as subject matter experts and advocates for noise-impacted communities south of DCA. This includes engagement with the DCA Community Working Group (CWG) to present project recommendations and to provide technical expertise related to the project.

Community Involvement

Involving the community, particularly those impacted by aircraft operations south of DCA, is a critical part of the South of Airport Noise Mitigation project. Community engagement will be consistent and ongoing. Information will be shared with the community through extensive outreach, leveraging the dedicated project website, project updates, and social media. 

Community Conversations (public meetings and workshops) will be conducted at critical phases of the project to encourage community awareness of the project and foster transparency. This will also provide one of many opportunities for the Project Team to interact with the community and to receive input directly from residents.

 

A community survey was developed and available to encourage resident input regarding existing concerns, issues, project development, and the recommendations. We encourage community input and want those impacted to help develop solutions that will reduce noise impacts and enhance the quality of life for those living south of DCA.

 

Take the community survey: https://forms.office.com/r/7JDAej2Lid

 

The community survey was developed and available to encourage resident input regarding existing concerns, issues, project development, and the recommendations. We encourage community input and want those impacted to help develop solutions that will reduce noise impacts and enhance the quality of life for those living south of DCA.

Involving the community, particularly those impacted by aircraft operations south of DCA, is a critical part of the South of Airport Noise Mitigation project. Community engagement will be consistent and ongoing. Information will be shared with the community through extensive outreach, leveraging the dedicated project website, project updates, and social media. 

Community Conversations (public meetings and workshops) will be conducted at critical phases of the project to encourage community awareness of the project and foster transparency. This will also provide one of many opportunities for the Project Team to interact with the community and to receive input directly from residents.

Please refer to the For More Information section of this website for ways to get more information and to interact with the Project Team.

Meetings & Events

Component I Community Workshops (Virtual)

Project Introduction

Prince George’s County: June 24, 2024 @ 6PM-8PM
City of Alexandria June 28, 2024 @ 6PM-8PM
Fairfax County: To Be Determined

 

Component II Community Workshops

Project Update/Operational Recommendations.

Dates to be determined.

 

 

Meetings and events are listed below. As new meetings are scheduled, they will be added to the list. Meeting summaries and other materials will also be made available.

SOA Design Committee Meeting #1 – October 17, 2023

  • Meeting Summary

 

SOA Design Committee Meeting #2 – November 1, 2023

  • Meeting Summary

 

SOA Design Committee Meeting #3 – November 15, 2023

  •      Meeting Summary

 

SOA Design Committee Meeting #4 – December 6, 2023

  •      Meeting Summary

 

SOA Design Committee Meeting #5 – January 25, 2024

  •      Meeting Summary

 

SOA Design Committee Meeting #6 – February 28, 2024

  •      Meeting Summary

 

SOA Design Committee Meeting #7 – April 17, 2024

  •      Meeting Summary

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

[Content to be developed] 

We encourage anyone with comments or questions about the project to reach out to the project team at: [email protected]

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Links to Other Related Webpages:

DCA Community Working Group

https://www.flyreagan.com/about-airport/aircraft-noise-information/dca-reagan-national-community-working-group

Flight tracking and noise exposure information (DCA Web Track Operations and Noise Portal)

https://www.flyreagan.com/about-airport/aircraft-noise-information/dca-reagan-national-webtrak-ops-noise-portal

DCA Noise Information & Complaints

flyreagan.com – DCA Reagan National – Aircraft Noise Information

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