State officials mull FAA lawsuit as BWI noise complaints continue

Posted at 11:55 PM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-17 23:55:54-04

State officials are considering tougher action as noise continues to be a common complaint for residents who live near BWI Airport.

Barbara Deckert says the sky over her Elkridge home is like the I-95 of planes.

"Very close together, sometimes one or two apart in what some of us call conga lines. One plane right after another," Deckert said.

She says the noise started about 2 years ago, when the Federal Aviation Administration implemented a new navigational system known as NextGen. It streamlines routes to promote safety and cut costs. For many across the state, those common routes go directly over their homes.

"To have aircraft flying over your house every few minutes, you can't escape it," says Lance Brasher, who chairs the D.C. Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable. For the last several months, the group has been working with FAA on potential solutions to the problem.

Now, there's another option - suing the FAA. Recently, after receiving several complaints, Governor Larry Hogan directed Attorney General Brian Frosh to do just that.

On a potential lawsuit, a spokesperson for Frosh's office said this:

"Our Office has been in meetings with the FAA and the Maryland Aviation Administration, and we have recently been granted the authority to file a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Maryland. Currently, our Office is in the process of seeking outside counsel to assist in this effort.”

Some communities like Phoenix, Arizona have had success against the NextGen navigational system in court. Deckert wonders how long that process will take.

"It could take 2 years to get to court. Who knows how long it could take to go through the court process? I want this fixed in my lifetime please," she said.

Tuesday, the Roundtable voted to support the lawsuit if the FAA can't fix the problem on its own. By working with the FAA, members say they've made headway on some issues, like how high airplanes fly over homes. The issue of planes flying over the same houses again and again has been tougher, according to Brasher.

"They really haven’t proposed anything to address that. Or it's not clear, if anything, they’re going to do to address that," he said.

The FAA did not have a representative at Tuesday's meeting. In the past, it has said that going back to old navigational routes would be too difficult, but it is committed to working with the community on a solution.