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92 Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations Mandatory and Voluntary Noise Abatement Actions Mandatory noise abatement actions are those measures that are required of all, or a category of, operators at the airport. If new, they fall under the requirements of 14 CFR Part 161 to be fully evaluated for their benefits and costs prior to approval by the FAA and implementation. In the United States, there has been a strong resistance among aviation operators to noise abate- ment actions which prohibitively restrict their use of an airport, while neighbors have often sought such prohibitions to assure a consistent and predictable level of quiet in their commu- nities. The FAA, courts and regulators have typically sided with the airport or the user against mandatory restrictions on operations. Even so, the typical airport manager or owner continues to face public complaints and opposition to airport activity and its perceived impacts on those who live nearby. Both the airport operator and the public should be aware that restrictive actions may have an impact on airport efficiency and may result in increased delay or cancelled operations. In many cases, airport sponsors have sought abatement of aircraft noise through the develop- ment of voluntary actions that seek to implement the intent of mandatory actions without fac- ing regulatory opposition to restrictions. The aircraft operating programs of many Part 150 studies or EIS mitigation plans use voluntary actions to achieve a portion of the desired noise reduction. For example, rather than implementing a mandatory "formal" runway use program which specifies for given conditions or times of day the runways to be used for landing and take- off, a voluntary program may be negotiated with the users to seek their participation in an "infor- mal" runway use program that may be approved under Part 150 or an EIS to result in much of the noise reduction sought with a formal program. The use of the informal program would be at the discretion of the user, however at busy towered airports, if the FAA and the users are party to the development of the informal program, it is likely that it becomes the normal mode of oper- ation and deviations from it become difficult to accommodate because they must be worked safely into the arrival or departure traffic flows. Similarly, airport operators may seek coopera- tion with users to use quieter aircraft types, to fly preferred routes, or to reduce ground level noise through various voluntary agreements. It is important to remember that voluntary agreements are exactly that voluntary, and that some operators may choose not to participate in the pro- gram. Of equal importance, however is that the establishment of any program will likely lead to the improvement of the noise conditions that the manager is seeking to alleviate, so long as it is safe and conducted in a controlled environment. Airport Role in Comprehensive Planning The compatibility between the noise generated at or near an airport and the usage of land in the airport vicinity is based on both the amount of noise generated and the locations of sensitive land uses. For many years noise abatement planning focused on the modification of flight paths, run- way use patterns, and aircraft activity, but with the completion of the phase-out of older, louder Stage 2 aircraft at the end of 1999, much of the achievable noise exposure reduction available under current technology and regulations had been accomplished. Although research is continuing into additional noise reduction technologies at the aircraft source, the regulatory agencies, airports and users have begun to increase the pressure to attain balance between actions that had been taken at the source and focus more control of incompatibility on the receiver. Consequently, the manage- ment of land use development has taken a greater role in the noise compatibility programs of the new century. During the period of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, noise exposure patterns gradually shrank as qui- eter Stage 3 aircraft became greater and greater portions of the operating fleet. The shrinkage of