Montgomery Co. council leader: ‘Explore legal action’ over airplane noise

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner said in a letter the county should explore a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration to force changes to flight paths that are causing an “unbearable increase” in airplane noise, driving down property values and affecting the quality of life.

Berliner told reporters, “What was in the past a minor annoyance shared by many throughout the region is now a concentrated, intolerable situation for many communities along the Potomac River, including our communities in Montgomery County.”

The current flight paths are the result of an effort by the FAA called NextGen to use more advanced technology to reduce flight times, save fuel and reduce airplane emissions. As a result, flights that were previously scattered all over the map have been pushed into specific air corridors.

Berliner added that as a result of the changes, “these planes are coming so much lower than they ever did before, and in this concentrated area.”

He said in the letter that “After months of work trying to roll back the devastating damage done by the 2015 implementation of NextGen flight [paths], and the increase in arrivals over our county, the Federal Aviation Administration … has only acquiesced on one point — an indefinite extension of the working group.”

He asked Leggett to direct County Attorney Marc Hansen “to explore legal action” against the FAA “if progress continued to be stalled.”

Bethesda Magazine reports that leaders also believe the changes have led to more airplane noise in the Bethesda area, with a busy flight path running close to the Beltway south of the I-270 split.

Berliner also said the FAA did not adequately inform the public or take into account public concerns over flight path changes.

Howard County has been looking into a similar lawsuit, and Phoenix is currently involved in a lawsuit against the FAA over flight path changes there.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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