GAO to study helicopter noise in D.C. area

Helicopter flying
(U.S. Army image)

Rep. Don Beyer and other local members of Congress announced last week that the Government Accountability Office will be conducting a study of helicopter noise in the Washington D.C. area.

The GAO study is in response to a January request by the group of politicians — Beyer (D-8), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-10), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Anthony Brown (D-MD) and David Trone (D-MD) — who asked the federal government to look into ways to minimize the disruptions caused by helicopters operating in the region.

“My constituents will be glad to hear that GAO has granted our request for further action on helicopter noise, which has been a problem in Northern Virginia for years,” Beyer said in a press release last week. “Two hundred people came to my helicopter noise town hall last year specifically to voice frustration with frequent, increasing noise from helicopters in the area.”

Back in January, the legislators had written to the GAO comptroller, saying that the “regular helicopter noise that interrupts sleep patterns, causes their homes to shake and negatively impacts their quality of life.”

“We understand that helicopter activity is an essential part of law enforcement, military and medical operations and appreciate the critical efforts of employees serving in those sectors,” the letter said in part. “However, we also believe that, through information collection, analysis and coordination, we can identify strategies to minimize the negative impacts of helicopter activity without impeding the work of the agencies operating helicopters within the region.”

Beyer, whose district includes most of the Richmond Highway area, held a town hall in January 2018 to hear residents’ concerns about the the noise. In his press release about the GAO study, Beyer noted that the military had not been responsive.

“[T]o date the Pentagon’s responses to my requests that they identify affected neighborhoods and work to mitigate noise problems have been disappointing,” Beyer said. “The GAO study should, I hope, give us much better information with which to address this issue.”