Most airplanes don’t fly silently. With their jet engines, they are often loud. Take-offs and landings create the most noise, with decibels regularly reaching 100. When cruising at an altitude of about 33,000 feet, though, commercial airplanes can still produce up to 85 decibels. While advancements have been made towards creating quieter airplanes, there’s still more work that needs to be done. A survey conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that many Americans are annoyed by the sound of airplanes.
In its Neighborhood Environmental Survey, the FAA revealed that two-thirds of Americans are “highly annoyed” by airplane noise. For the survey, the FAA polled roughly 10,000 Americans living near major airports. The FAA specifically sought to investigate whether or not Americans were annoyed by airplane noise. After crunching the numbers, the FAA concluded that two out of three Americans surveyed were annoyed by airplane noise.
When speaking about the survey, the FAA said that it was “an important step in seeking public input as the FAA undertakes a review of its existing noise policy. The FAA will continue to engage directly with members of the Quiet Skies Caucus to address their inquiries.”
Some people may argue that more Americans are annoyed with airplane noise simply because population levels have increased around airplanes, but this isn’t the case. In its survey, the FAA noted that only 400,000 Americans live in areas with significant exposure to airplane noise. In comparison, there were about 7 million Americans who lived in areas with significant exposure to airplane noise in the 1970s. So, while population levels in high-noise areas have decreased, more Americans are still annoyed by airplane noise.
Airplane noise isn’t a new concern. Airplanes have been producing noise since their origins over a century ago. Nonetheless, the number of Americans who say they are annoyed by airplane noise has increased. By conducting this survey, the FAA hopes to seek input from the public for solutions on how to reduce or curb airplane noise.
There are already ways to reduce airplane noise, one of which is using quieter jet engines. Most commercial airplanes are powered by multiple jet engines. Some of these engines are quieter than others. NASA has also been working on new technologies to reduce airplane noise. As described here, it has several proposed solutions to reduce noise produced by jet engines and their respective fans.