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CHAPTER 6 Noise Management and Public Response Noise frequently first becomes an issue for the airport manager through complaints about the loudness, proximity or frequency of overflights near an airport. Managers become involved because the public who present these complaints assume that the airport administration has con- trol of the aircraft flight patterns and operations in use at the airport. The public has a difficult time understanding that the many entities present at the airport are distinctly different from one another, with different authorities and levels of influence over conditions. Instead, the public views the airport as one organization that has the authority to manage all activities that take place within its boundaries and within the airspace around it. This misunderstanding often leads to frustration, not only on the part of the public who want to make conditions they complain about better, but also for the airport manager who must deal with multiple entities to see if anything can (or should) be done to respond to the public concerns. Most public airports in the United States are owned and operated by public governmental bodies--city or county departments, independent airport authorities, or agencies of state or national government. The others are operated by private companies or individuals. As such, airport manage- ment personnel generally view themselves as public servants and their role as one that is customer- oriented, with the mission to provide for the safe, smooth, and efficient operation of the airport facility. Often, they are also public employees, with responsibilities to the elected officials and departmental managers responsible to the public at large. Political influences occasionally demand that airport management be responsive to public noise complaints or other concerns and seek to resolve the issues raised by them through restrictions of, or negotiated modifications to, the flight activities that generate the complaints. To do so, the manager will be faced with political demands on one side and a host of restrictions on his ability to act on the other. There will be regulatory lim- itations on the manager's ability to act independently in any way that has been preempted by the federal government, the manager will have little or no control on how the property beyond the air- port's boundaries is developed, and the manager will have to deal with his client base the users of the airport that provide the aviation-supported services demanded by the community. Several principles may be brought into play by the airport managers in their effort to manage their relationships with the public and users, politicians and regulators, land owners and envi- ronmental advocates and still meet the needs of the community for safe and efficient aviation services. Although some airports may be equipped and staffed to address the issues on a daily basis, planning for the compatibility between the airport and its neighbors is an infrequent activity for most airports, usually happening only once every five to 10 years in a comprehensive analysis. The elements of noise compatibility planning include the definition of existing and pro- jected aircraft noise levels around the airport, the identification of land use patterns and their relationship to the noise exposure levels, and the development of operational or land use man- agement measures to enhance the compatibility between aircraft noise levels and underlying land uses. Throughout the planning process, the well-designed planning program incorporates a 87