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Highlights

To address projected increases in air traffic and current problems with aviation congestion and delays, the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), an interagency organization within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is working to plan and implement a new air traffic management system, known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). This effort involves implementing new technologies and air traffic control procedures, airspace redesign, and infrastructure developments, including new or expanded runways and airports. Community opposition is, however, a major challenge, largely because of concerns about aviation noise. As a result, according to JPDO, aviation noise will be a primary constraint on NextGen unless its effects can be managed and mitigated. GAO's requested testimony addresses (1) the key factors that affect communities' level of exposure to aviation noise, (2) the status of efforts to address the impact of aviation noise, and (3) major challenges and next steps for reducing and mitigating the effects of aviation noise. The testimony is based on prior GAO work (including a 2000 survey of the nation's 50 largest airports), updated with reviews of recent literature, FAA data and forecasts, and interviews with officials from FAA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), industry and community representatives, and aviation experts.

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