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Highlights

GAO discussed aircraft noise abatement programs at eight airports, focusing on the Minneapolis airport. GAO noted that: (1) the Minneapolis airport ranked highest in community complaints, although it ranked fifth in total population affected by aircraft noise; (2) although Minneapolis flight operations affected fewer people than at six other airports, Minneapolis was challenged with many varied community concerns; (3) the Minneapolis airport had implemented as many or more noise reduction measures as the other airports; (4) only the Minneapolis and San Francisco airports had implemented airport use restrictions; (5) a future Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation national transportation policy could impose further airport access restrictions; (6) the Minneapolis and Chicago airports had not achieved the community support necessary for land-use control; (7) seven of the eight airports had implemented noise-reducing physical modifications, but only Minneapolis planned to extend a runway specifically for noise control; (8) Minneapolis-initiated citizen complaint mechanisms appeared to have benefited its noise control program; (9) Minneapolis received less federal funding than six other airports; (10) several airports, including Minneapolis, were dissatisfied with FAA technical assistance in developing their noise reduction programs, and with lengthy FAA proposal reviews; and (11) FAA was responding to the noted criticisms by examining possible program improvements and issuing internal guidance for FAA reviews.

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