A New Technological Fix Hopes to Make Airport Noise a "Whisper"

Noise abatement procedures are only effective if they are used. Noise impacted communities are frequently heard to complain that, despite the complex, time consuming and expensive process needed to develop and implement noise abatement procedures at airports, either through the FAA’s Part 150 process, or through other airport specific processes, airlines seem to ignore them. The rationale often provided is that each airline is entitled to develop and implement its own flight procedures, some, but not all of which incorporate the specified noise abatement procedures. This situation was exacerbated in 1990 when the Airport Noise and Capacity Act, 49 U.S.C. § 47521, et seq., took noise abatement policy making out of the hands of local airports and placed approval authority exclusively in the hands of the FAA.

A deceptively simple solution to this pervasive problem of airlines non-uniform observance of airport specific noise abatement policies has been developed by a small, new company in Truckee, California, Whispertrack.
 

The concept behind the Whispertrack system is simple: to “give airports an intuitive, web based tool to manage and update their noise abatement procedures” (Esaassoc.com/Airports, Summer 2011 Aviation Rising), as well as to distribute the various noise abatement procedures to flight crews and aircraft operators throughout the entire national air transportation system.

 

The Whispertrack system distributes noise abatement procedures in much the same way as Instrument Flight Rule procedures are distributed today: through flight planning/dispatch services developed by companies such as Honeywell, Universal, flightplan.com, AIRNAV and others. In essence, Whispertrack establishes a technical process extending across all categories of noise abatement procedure, and is intended to transmit this information universally, so that noise abatement procedures developed painstakingly by cooperative processes between aircraft and airport operators, air traffic controllers, and communities won’t be ignored by failure to integrate them into the normal flight planning system.

Whether Whispertrack will remedy the frequent divergence of aircraft from established noise abatement procedures is yet to be established by the year old process. What is certain is that Whispertrack is a step toward eliminating the “nobody told me” defense that so often accompanies divergence from established noise abatement procedures, observance of which is so heavily relied upon by noise impacted communities.
 

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