How Loudoun Co. hopes to reduce noise from Dulles Airport’s flight paths at nearby homes

Loudoun County, Virginia leaders recently tweaked noise maps around Dulles International Airport to determine where homes can and can’t be built in the future — some already living near the airport are asking, ‘What about us?’

In January 2023, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors adopted the new zoning map for future homes after conducting noise studies.

However, some homeowners in the new Birchwood at Brambleton development say planes taking off on east-west Runway 30 fly over their homes with jet engines at full power.

A map showing the existing and projected neighborhoods near Dulles Airport (Courtesy Loudoun County Board of Supervisors)

Loudoun County will hire an aviation consultant to develop suggestions and aid the county in working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to reduce noise near the airport, including lobbying for changed flight paths.

Construction began at Birchwood at Brambleton near the start of the pandemic, which resulted in large decrease in flights. However, neighbors say they’re being affected by the growing number of flights taking off and landing on the airport’s sole east-west runway.

A view of the Birchwood at Brambleton development in proximity to Dulles Airport and its runways. (Courtesy Google)

To avoid confusion, runway numbers are based on the compass direction. For example, Runway 30 and Runway 12 are the same runway, but flights taking off to the west use Runway 30 and flights heading east use Runway 12.

County officials hope a trained aviation consultant will help coordinate engagement with the FAA and MWAA on the airport noise issue, including, “Baseline airport noise computer modeling to isolate the noise conditions to/from Runway 30 from the remainder of the airport.”

Having the information could help in lobbying with the FAA and airports authority for changing the flight paths of jets: “Development and modeling to identify incremental changes in noise conditions for Runway 30 for various scenario departure rule modifications,” according to the Board of Supervisors staff report.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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