Vice Chair Crowley Reintroduces The Silent Skies Act to Curb Aircraft Noise Pollution

December 3, 2015
Press Release

Legislation requires airlines to begin stocking fleets with newer, quieter aircraft

(Queens, NY) – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, announced the reintroduction of The Silent Skies Act (H.R. 4171), legislation that aims to improve the quality of life for communities heavily impacted by aircraft noise pollution by requiring airlines to begin stocking fleets with newer, quieter aircraft. Originally introduced in the 113th Congress, the bill instructs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue regulations by the end of 2016 requiring all U.S. commercial airplanes to meet Stage 4 noise standards, which is a significantly lower decibel level than those currently in use.

“While airplanes can never be truly silent, making their engines quieter will go a long way toward providing the relief residents who live nearby our airports deserve,” said Rep. Crowley. “That’s why I’m reintroducing the Silent Skies Act, which will require older, noisier airplanes to be phased out. But it will also require the FAA to adopt newly developed noise standards for all new airplane designs. Aircraft noise pollution isn’t merely a nuisance – it impacts our ability sleep, learn and enjoy daily life.”

In 2006, the FAA issued regulations requiring all new commercial aircraft designs to meet Stage 4 noise standards. However, the FAA did not address whether airlines would need to phase out older, louder airplanes or retrofit them with quieter engines. The requirements outlined in Crowley’s bill would be phased in at a rate of 25 percent every five years, so that all commercial airplanes meet these quieter standards by 2037.

The Silent Skies Act also requires new aircraft designs to meet standards recently adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization. These new, more stringent standards, known as Stage 5, would have to be met by 2017 in order for the new designs to be certified by the FAA.

In addition, Crowley’s legislation would authorize a new partnership program for the development of technologies to help meet better noise standards and result in quieter airplane engines. The partnership is a grant program that requires a portion of revenues from the sale of successful, new technologies to be paid back into the program.

“Through fleet replacement and investment in new technologies, quieter airplanes are an achievable goal,” Crowley continued.  “When it comes to aircraft noise, it’s important that we find solutions that can benefit all of the communities surrounding our airports – and the Silent Skies Act would do just that.”

Crowley has worked extensively with community leaders, federal officials, and representatives from New York City and State to abate the congestion and noise that schools, businesses, and homes are subjected to because of their close proximity to LaGuardia Airport. In April 2001, Crowley authored a plan to alleviate community concerns associated with the airport. In 2002, he secured $100,000 in federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to carry out an air quality and noise study in the neighborhoods surrounding LaGuardia. He also secured $240,000 for LaGuardia Airport Noise Monitors to track airport noise at LaGuardia and ensure curfews were being met.

In 2014, Crowley co-founded the Quiet Skies Caucus in Congress, which works to raise awareness on the issue of aircraft noise and find meaningful solutions to the problem. The caucus consists of members from across the country whose constituents are adversely affected by incidents of airplane and helicopter noise.

Congressman Crowley is the nine-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.