Following legal action, FAA cuts off talks with BWI roundtable on flight noise

Following legal action, FAA cuts off talks with BWI roundtable on flight noise
A Southwest flight comes directly over a home on Jones Road in the Queenstown neighborhood. Arriving airplanes approach Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to land on Tuesday afternoon. (By Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

The Federal Aviation Administration has cut off talks with Maryland and a community group about flight noise at BWI Marshall Airport, after Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a pair of petitions last month asking the agency to readjust flight paths to reduce the noise.

Gov. Larry Hogan directed Frosh to file the petitions on behalf of upset neighbors of BWI Marshall and Reagan National airports who were displeased with airliners flying lower over their homes after the federal government rolled out a new system of air traffic management in 2014.


Maria Stanco, a deputy regional administrator in New York, wrote in a July 11 email to the Maryland Aviation Administration that the legal action effectively ended the agency’s ability to move forward with the discussions with the state agency or the BWI Community Roundtable.

“Due to pending litigation we are unable to continue our conversations with the Roundtable, the Airport or the associated contractors on this issue,” Stanco wrote. “No action from the Roundtable is expected at this point.”

The new NextGen GPS-based air traffic system resulted in lower flight paths, producing more noise at BWI, Reagan National in Virginia and other airports across the country.

Neighbors of BWI formed the roundtable, the FAA’s preferred method of feedback, last year.

Mary Reese, the roundtable’s chairwoman, said she was frustrated to learn that the agency would no longer be engaging neighbors in the process, especially given that the group had dedicated more than a year to finding a solution.

Finding out from the state aviation administration — and not the FAA — that the discussions had ended only added insult to injury, she said.

“It is like being broken up with on a Post-It note,” Reese said.

The freeze is temporary, and the FAA plans to resume its conversations with the state and the roundtable once the legal and administrative petitions are resolved, agency spokesman Paul Takemoto said in a statement.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Frosh, said the attorney general plans to stay the course with the petitions.

Hogan was disappointed with the FAA’s decision, spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill said, but he plans to continue efforts to bring an end to the flight noise.

The administration “remains open to a productive dialogue with the FAA on this very important issue,” she said.