Bill and Gabrielle Stevens, both retired and in their 70s, have lived in Bethesda for 20 years. They say they may not have bought their house had they known they would face such high levels of helicopter noise. (Hannah Natanson/The Washington Post)

The House on Monday passed an amendment directing the Federal Aviation Administration to prioritize combating airplane and helicopter noise.

The measure was sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who co-chairs the Quiet Skies Caucus, a group of lawmakers who represent districts dealing with issues related to aircraft noise.

“Our amendment to direct the FAA to prioritize airplane and helicopter noise is critical to the work we have already done in the District and the region on airplane and helicopter noise,” Norton said. “It is our latest effort to provide much-needed relief to our neighborhoods and families affected by such noise.”

The amendment was added to the fiscal 2020 transportation appropriations bill.

The House’s action comes just weeks after the Government Accountability Office — at the request of several lawmakers in the Washington region — said it would study the effect of helicopter noise on residents in the region. That study is expected to begin this fall.

The Washington region is one of dozens of communities nationwide where the number of noise complaints tied to takeoffs and landings at local airports has grown significantly. Many blame the FAA’s efforts to modernize the aviation system, an initiative known as NextGen, for the increase. The goal of NextGen is to replace World War II-era radar technology with modern satellite-based navigation. The FAA says the shift would allow planes to fly more direct routes, saving time and fuel. But the changes mean that flights are sometimes concentrated into more narrow corridors, which troubles residents on the ground. In other cases, new flight paths are established, exposing residents who hadn’t previously dealt with airplane traffic to more noise.

Norton also was able to include several noise-related provisions in last year’s FAA reauthorization bill, including ensuring more community involvement in FAA NextGen projects and funding for studies that examine the effect of airplane noise and emissions on people’s health.

The amendment was co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Don Beyer (Va.), Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (Calif), Scott Peters (Calif), Mike Quigley (Ill.) Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Brad Sherman (Calif.) and Thomas Suozzi (N.Y.).