Legislation that would undermine noise controls at National Airport ran into a flurry of Capitol Hill opposition yesterday.
Local officials say the plan, which would create a national noise policy and which was voted out of a Senate committee late Wednesday, could add to the decibel levels at National and other airports by preventing local authorities from setting their own noise limits. The Senate was not expected to consider such a policy until next session, but the plan was endorsed by the Senate Commerce Committee as part of an omnibus aviation bill.
The measure also would eliminate limits on the number of flights per hour at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports in New York, and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
The package, reflecting a bill proposed last summer by Sen. John S. McCain III (R-Ariz.), also had proposed eliminating flight limits at National, where restrictions limit flights to an average of 37 an hour.
But under a compromise advanced by Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.) and supported by local airport officials, the flight limits would be retained at National. Airport officials, who want to direct any increases in air traffic to Dulles International Airport, fear that lifting the flight limits at National would leave the older airport more congested than ever and render its $735 million renovation inadequate.
The proposal for a national noise policy, made by Sen. Wendell H. Ford (D-Ky.), has drawn widespread criticism in the House because it would undermine local efforts to restrict nighttime noise and to force airlines to speed the transition to newer, quieter aircraft.
"All these senators and congressmen who fly into National, they know the problems we have here" with noise and congestion, said Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who flooded his House colleagues with letters urging them to oppose the plan.
Wolf's lobbying ally is Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), who in a letter yesterday to the chairman of the House subcommittee on aviation called the Ford plan "nothing short of a disaster for millions of noise-weary people . . . . "
Several airlines that have complained about such restrictions at National and other airports support the Ford plan. They say the lack of a uniform noise policy for all airports forces them to juggle their fleets, costing them millions of dollars a year. END NOTES