COMPLAINTS ABOUT AIRPORT NOISE ARE not unusual. The noise level of an airplane taking off can hit 120 decibels, which is painfully loud. So people living near airports often are understandably by the noise all day long. But it turns out, some people are more irritated by the noise than others.
Take Washington, DC. Reagan National Airport is situated right on the Potomac, smack dab in the middle of a densely populated city. As such, the flight paths of many of the planes go directly over residential homes and neighborhoods. In 2015, the airport received 8,760 complaints.
This may sound like a lot, but researchers recently found that 6,852 of these complaints came from two people living in the same home. That’s about 10 complaints from each of them per day. And to some extent, it has worked. The FAA is considering changing the flight paths of planes over those neighborhoods.
Reagan National is not the only airport where a disproportionate number of complaints come from a small group of people. San Francisco International airport receives nearly 900,000 complaints a year, but most of these come from around 10,000 people. And in London, the airport receives complaints for one out of every five take-offs — but half of these come from the same 10 people. It’s particularly contentious in London, as Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, is considering adding another runway.
New technology allows the FAA to route planes over fewer homes, and officials say planes are quieter than they used to be, but it’s still contentious. So the next time you’re flying out of a busy airport, just remember: there are two people somewhere on the ground who really hate your guts.