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Scaled-Back Airport Construction Hours May Relieve Late Night Jet Noise

by ARLnow.com December 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm 4,360 27 Comments

Arlington residents may get some much-desired relief from the noise of planes landing at night.

Earlier this year crews started nighttime rehabilitation work on the main runway at Reagan National Airport. That work directed planes landing after 11:00 p.m. to another runway, which in turn steered them over a larger portion of Arlington. Some frustrated residents have told ARLnow.com that since the construction started they have been woken up several times by loud, low-flying jets.

The late night runway change also steered planes heading in from the south over portions of southeast and southwest D.C. That prompted D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to send letters to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority last week, asking for an end to the redirected late night flights.

“Residents have continued calling [Holmes’] office, saying that they have experienced deafening, terrorizing noise and lights from planes flying directly over their homes in the dead of night,” the delegate’s office said, in a press release.

In response to the letter, the airports authority announced that it was scaling back the start of construction from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., leaving the main runway open later. The change took effect last Friday. The main runway will continue to reopen at 6:00 a.m. following the overnight construction.

“This will significantly reduce the number of late-night flights using alternate flight patterns to reach the airport,” MWAA said.

  • Rick

    Since when is 11:00pm the dead of night?

  • Jason S.

    Is Arlington the epicenter of whiners? You live in an urban area. If you wanted things to be quiet, move someplace quiet. If you wanted something else around here more than quiet, STFU and accept you acted on priorities.

    • HughJassPhD

      Sounds like SE & SW DC are whining too.

      • Jason S.

        Anybody who moves to the DC area and expects quiet is a whiner.

        • Sam

          For someone so offended by whiners you sure do a lot of whining about them.

    • drax


      Hey, Jason, you STFU, or I’m going to bring a jackhmammer over to your place at 3 am every single night and see if you complain. Nobody is asking for absolute, pristine quiet, but there are limits to everything, even in cities.

    • No

      Arlington is not an urban area. It’s a suburb of one. DCA has been there forever, but it did not get jets until the 1960s, and it did not allow late-night flights till much more recently.

      People have a right to get a good night’s sleep.

      • Josh S

        I’m not sure they have a *right* to that. But probably they have a reasonable expectation of getting one, even when living in an urban area and so those who would disturb the peace at night have to take reasonable precautions to keep their noise down.

  • Mickey

    Whiners……put a pillow over your head, take a pill, have another beer.

  • Mark

    Haven’t heard a thing and we live in Crystal City.

    • Ali


  • Freedom

    These are the same clowns who move into a neighborhood with a fire station nearby and then complain about the sirens. Looks like we are surronded by idiots.

  • OX4

    Deafening, terrorizing noise? Are you kidding me? I live right under the runway 19 approach so we have planes flying pretty close to us all the time. I can safely say at no point have I ever been terrorized by the sound of an airplane landing. These people seriously need to lighten up.

  • DB

    Or the same folks who move next to a busy railroad and then complain that a freight train woke them up—we’ll the railroad was their first pal! Folks like this are known as a “NIMBY.”

  • Josh S

    Attention haters:

    Your designated five minutes are now up. Please exit the room so that the period of reasoned discussion of the issue may continue and a possible resolution be found.

  • Grognak

    Just shows ignorance when you move into an urban area near an airport and complain about airplanes. Move to West Virginia if you can’t handle noise. Just sayin’.

  • Under the flight path

    I’ve lived under the path for over 30 years. When you buy, you know it’s going to be noisy. First, there were regulations that prevented take offs and landings after 10:00 PM and before 7:00 AM. That was done away with, partly because the residents who were affected by airplane noise were told that the airlines would be using new engines (required by some airports) that are much quieter. In recent years, that requirement seems to have been relaxed. People who discount the level of noise and call those who complain about it “whiners,” have either impaired hearing or are simply ignorant.

    • Grognak

      Who told you they were going to be using new engines? Or more to the point, who would believe something like that?

      • Pilot

        He’s right. The newer engines ARE quieter than the ones used in the earlier decades–but they’re still loud. You can find this information anywhere online if you look.

        • Grognak

          Point being, planes are different. He makes it sound like they just slapped different engines on the same planes.

          And if they are so much quieter, quit complaining. Things are better now than they used to be.

          • DCBuff

            This is laughable. Loud, terrorizing sounds. Aircraft designs are (as of Jan. 1, 2006) based on what is known as Chapter 4 standards, which have been adopted globally. Most planes flying are still Chapter 3; however, most newer aircraft flying based on design standards adopted before 1/1/06 are so quiet that they far exceed the requirements for Chapter 3 aircraft. Aircraft such as 707s and other early jets are banned, and any aircraft manufactured under Chapter 2 standards (e.g., DC9s) had to be re-engined or “hushkitted” to meet Chapter 3 standards. Chapter 4 aircraft are at a minimum 10dB quieter than Chapter 3 aircraft. Aircraft make noise, and if, as I and thousands of others in Arlington do, people choose to live under a flight path, that is just the way it is. But apparently some people think the world should revolve around them. In this case, MWAA is making the runway SAFER, and people are still complaining. If you really want to have the right to complain, stop flying. Otherwise, at the very least, educate yourself before you yap.

          • Light Sleeper

            OK, so the planes are quieter than they used to be. But they used to not fly between 10 and 7. That was the requirement for decades, I believe. I’d rather know that I’ll hear NO planes during those hours than hear quieter jet planes up till 11:30 and starting at 6AM. I’d be happy to allow the very loudest planes there are if it meant I wouldn’t hear them till 7:30 or 8.

            I mean, come on–they’re still jet planes!

            I agree that it would be silly to expect NEVER to hear a jet plane in Arlington–but expecting not to hear them during the hours when most of the population is asleep is reasonable. Especially when that used to be the way it was.

          • Grognak

            We also used to not have so much traffic and stop lights and bike lanes and high rise development. That is not related to planes, but the “I wish things were like they used to be in the olden days” argument is just as ineffectual in those cases.

          • Light Sleeper

            Grognak, you’ve put up a straw-man argument in reducing it down to a wish for the olden days vs. progress. It would be very doable to revert to the old hours, and it would benefit most people here.

          • Grognak

            Your presumption that changing hours would help most people is way off base. You are part of a small minority of squeaky wheel NIMBYs.

  • AD1E

    Since this change, has the noise gotten worse in Arlington, specifically in the Clarendon area?

    The past few days, during the morning, I have heard planes that have been much louder than before. Are planes now taking off in the early morning hours using the runway that puts them right over Courthouse – Clarendon?

  • Daniel

    Whiners.. Deploy to a war zone and you will never complain about noise like this again… When you have a MV-22 or CH-47 hovering less than 100 feet from where you are sleeping, or an F-16 screams off the runway in the middle of the night your standards will change.

    And it sounds like the burden that one part of the county has been enduring is now being more equitably shared.


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