Committee on Noise (FICON) during the 1980s and early 1990s—preceded the creation of FICAN in November 1993. FICUN developed land use noise compatibility guidelines for all modes of transportation in 1980, and FICON focused on airport noise in a 1992 report, Federal Agency Review of Selected Airport Noise Analysis Issues (FICON, 1992). Among FICON’s recommendations was that a standing federal interagency committee be formed to assist agencies in research and development (R&D) related to aviation noise. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) committed itself to establishing such a committee in its report to Congress in 1993 (see


FICAN meetings are held quarterly and at the discretion of the chair. Members are appointed by their respective agencies, each of which is obligated to send a representative to all proceedings. The chair and vice chair are selected by majority vote every two years, with the understanding that the positions will rotate among the agencies. Current members are DOT, OST, FAA, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), National Park Service, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and EPA.


FICAN is not involved in setting policy related to aviation noise. Its role is to review and comment on technical issues and make recommendations. FICAN is a focal point for questions on R&D on aviation noise.


Members contribute to a pooled fund to administer the committee’s activities. FICAN operates on a limited budget, generally about $100,000 per year, most of which goes toward contracts with outside parties to support its activities, including administrative assistance. Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc., a private contractor, has provided administrative assistance since 1993.

Although FICAN conducts studies, it is not a source of major research contracts. Its efforts are directed toward reviewing ongoing research on aviation noise with an eye toward avoiding duplication. As part of its coordinating role, FICAN reviews activities related to research on aviation noise by PARTNER, JPDO, and TRB committees and programs. FICAN also prepares position statements on subjects of interest suggested by member agencies and on reports it has been asked to review. Public workshops and symposia are held from time to time.

Application of the FICAN Model

FICAN was created to study technical issues, not to make policy. Committee participants are qualified in technical aspects of the field of aviation noise, but participation in FI-CAN is peripheral to their jobs. They are appointed by their respective agencies but are not required to report on their activities, nor do member agencies take any action as a result of FICAN’s work. Committee members tend to be less than enthusiastic and are not given extra credit for their efforts.

FICAN is made up entirely of federal agencies. Although industry participation is not included in the workings of the committee, private-sector research is included in FICAN’s reviews.

Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction


PARTNER, which was established in 2003, is one of the FAA’s eight air transportation centers of excellence, wherein colleges and universities are given grants to conduct research on aviation issues considered important to airspace planning and airport design. Centers of excellence, which were established through enabling legislation dated November 1990 as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, represent a strategic research partnership of government, academia, and industry. Elements of the PARTNER program include education, research, and technology transfer in the context of an academic setting. PARTNER is the only FAA center of excellence that deals with noise issues (in addition to air quality and climate change).


PARTNER is sponsored by the FAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Transport Canada. Consequently, it can be considered an example of federal coordination of noise research, even if the research is conducted by academic institutions and not by federal agencies. Nine collaborating universities conduct PARTNER research. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the lead university, provides PARTNER’s program director, Ian Waitz, and an administrative office. An extensive advisory board with 53 member organizations supports PARTNER, by giving advice and by directly collaborating in the research program. All federal grant funds allocated through PARTNER must be matched one to one with nonfederal cost sharing (typically from in-kind support provided by the advisory board and other organizations collaborating on research programs).

One of PARTNER’s greatest strengths is the diversity and inclusiveness of the advisory board. Members include representatives of aerospace manufacturers; airlines; air-

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