Airport Improvement Program:

FAA Complying With Requirement for Local Involvement in Noise Mitigation Projects

RCED-99-41: Published: Dec 28, 1998. Publicly Released: Jan 13, 1999.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must enforce grant assurance as a condition of providing noise mitigation grants to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

GAO noted that: (1) while FAA has a policy calling for an airport owner that requests noise mitigation grants to obtain written declarations that the project is consistent with local plans and has local support from communities affected by airport noise, neither federal law nor FAA regulations require such written declarations; (2) the federal statutes do contain a broad requirement that FAA must satisfy itself that a noise mitigation project is consistent with local plans; (3) however, the statutes make no mention of obtaining from cities, counties, or municipalities in which a noise mitigation project is located written declarations stating that the project is reasonably consistent with local plans and has local support; (4) FAA officials said that in the case of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, they met the statutory requirements by reviewing steps the airport completed prior to applying for grants for noise mitigation projects, primarily the development of a noise compatability program, a process that involves public participation; and (5) FAA officials said that their review of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's noise compatability planning efforts satisfied them that the noise mitigation projects were consistent with local plans and had local support.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA concurred with the recommendation, stating that it determined that there was no statutory basis for requiring written declarations that a project is consistent with local plans and has local support for affected communities. FAA said that eliminating this requirement would be appropriate, since public input is adequately required and documented within the noise mitigation planning process. FAA indicated that it would not incorporate this requirement into new grants and will publish a Federal Register notice before the end of fiscal year 1999 stating that a written declaration will no longer be required. Such a notice was published on August 18, 1999 and became effective September 1, 1999.

    Recommendation: To avert expectations of additional consultation between an airport owner and the communities affected by airport noise, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, to determine whether the agency should require written declarations that a project is consistent with local plans and has local support from affected communities as called for by its current grant requirements. If the agency chooses not to require written declarations, this requirement should be removed from the grant assurances.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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