UPDATE: Logan Airport Overflight Noise in Belmont and Watertown

Earlier this year I was alerted to an ongoing issue in the communities of Belmont and Watertown regarding an increase in air traffic noise.  The escalation in the number of overflights, particularly in specific neighborhoods, is a result of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) implementation of a new area navigation path (RNAV) for a runway out of Logan Airport (Runway 33L).  Local officials, community members and the state legislative delegation have been engaging the FAA and Massport on this issue for some time, including through the Logan Airport Community Advisory Committee (CAC).

Over the past few months, my staff and I have worked with this group of local and state leaders to request additional information from the FAA.  This effort culminated with a meeting I held recently with FAA officials, including Todd Friedenberg, Deputy Regional Administrator for New England. 

Based on that meeting and other communications with the FAA, here is an update on some key points:

  • Mandatory reporting: Among the issues we discussed was the issuance of a mandatory 6-month review for the new flight path, which was issued on April 30th. I would draw your attention in particular to the graphics associated with the report, and I want to thank the members of the CAC who pushed for their inclusion.  A 12-month review report is also expected this summer.  These reports focus only on the safe implementation and operational efficiency of the new RNAV procedures.
  • Community Advisory Committee (CAC): Both Belmont and Watertown are now represented on the Logan Airport CAC.  This is a community’s best available opportunity to stay informed and have its voice heard.  Representation will be particularly important as we move along in Phase 3 of the Boston Logan Airport Noise Study (BLANS) – see also below.  I am following up with surrounding communities in our district to ensure their representation.
  • Boston Logan Airport Noise Study (BLANS) Phase 3: The FAA communicated to me that Phase 3 of the ongoing BLANS study will consider runway usage and noise. Indeed, according to the study web site, this phase will “identify and evaluate potential runway use measures to be included in a runway use program to replace the Preferential Runway Advisory System (PRAS), because it had not achieved the intended noise abatement.”  My team and I will be following this phase closely and seeking updates from the FAA and Massport on a regular basis.

Like you, my primary concern is the safety and security of air traffic in and out of Logan Airport and across the country.  However, I also believe we should continue to examine related issues of environmental impact and noise abatement to affected communities, demand that communities have a real opportunity to raise concerns and stay informed about potential impacts on their residents, as well as ensure that the FAA is complying with regulations governing changes to air traffic. 

I thank you for your continued partnership in this effort.