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Highlights

GAO discussed aircraft noise and research being done to mitigate it. GAO noted that: (1) the Department of Transportation's (DOT) National Transportation Policy did not provide sufficient guidance on how concerned groups could work together to reduce aircraft noise; (2) due to insufficient guidance, local airport access regulations varied by airport, which resulted in carriers having to adjust schedules or reduce services; (3) some airlines vigorously opposed some airports' plans to impose noise restrictions; and (4) in formulating a national aircraft noise policy, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and DOT need to resolve several key issues, primarily when to ban noisier aircraft operations, what actions to take in addition to banning such operations, and whether the federal government should be responsible for mitigating noise beyond the immediate vicinity of an airport. GAO believes that FAA aircraft noise research would be more effective if DOT established project priorities and linked those projects to specific objectives that contribute to reducing community exposure to aircraft noise.

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