In a weekend story about noise complaints tied to new flight patterns in and out of Reagan National Airport — one statistic leaped out at many Post readers.
Officials at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority received 8,670 noise complaints in 2015 — but of those complaints a whopping 6,500 came from the same person.
Yes, the same person.
Do the math and that boils down to just over an average of 18 a day, every day, for 365 days.
— Gregory Korte (@gregorykorte) March 5, 2016
Who this person may be — airport officials aren’t saying. All they’re willing to say is that the person lives in Northwest Washington. And trust us, we asked, repeatedly. It’s easy to dismiss the person as a crank, but as Ed Solomon, president of the D.C. Fair Skies Coalition, a group founded to raise awareness of the residents’ plight, said even if one person is responsible for that many complaints, it shouldn’t take away from the main issue, which is that changes in flight patterns into and out of National Airport have created serious noise problems that can’t be ignored. He said airport officials may want to downplay the issue by dismissing the rise in complaints as the work of just one person — but Solomon has seen the number of households affected grow significantly. And the problem is spreading into other areas of the city, including Glover Park, Woodley Park and Cleveland Park.
In fact, subtract the number of complaints filed by the same person, and you’ll still find that overall noise complaints tripled between 2014 and 2015.
Tomasita Villarroel told The Post that the noise is affecting her four-year-old son’s sleep. She recently got a note from his teacher saying that the pre-schooler is falling asleep at school. Yes, she said, there had always been noise — but recently it’s become much worse.
Airport officials say they are working with residents.
“We find the complaints to be completely valid, which is why we’ve formed a community working group,” said David Mould, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages the airport. “We hope to find some good solutions.”
Many residents blame the increase in noise to the Federal Aviation Administration’s upgrade of its flight navigation system, known as NextGen. The multi-billion dollar initiative is designed to modernize the nation’s air traffic control systems by switching from radar to satellite navigation.
The shift enables planes to fly more direct routes, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions. But in some parts of the country, it has meant more noise for people on the ground — and not just in the District.
Residents in California, Arizona, Illinois, New York and Minneapolis also are reporting problems with airport noise. In some instances, the shift in flight patterns is routing planes over communities that never had to deal with flyovers. Santa Cruz, Calif., is 60 miles south of San Francisco Airport, yet residents there are now getting a daily dose of airplane noise.
And, Nick Robinson, we hear you on this point:
— Nick Robinson (@Babylonian) March 6, 2016
We want to know, too, so we’ll keep digging, and let you know.