The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey


Beginning in 1959, the Port Authority of NY & NJ, which operates John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA), Stewart International (SWF), and Teterboro (TEB) airports, implemented a series of aircraft noise abatement programs and numerous noise mitigation programs. Abatement programs are defined as those that address a reduction in the noise source. Mitigation programs are designed to reduce the impact of existing noise on people living near the airports.

The Port Authority’s first program to mitigate aircraft engine noise took place as the jet age was still dawning, when the agency established a departure noise limit known as the 112 Perceived Noise Decibel (PNdB) rule. The basis for the rule was a noise evaluation study that the Port Authority had initiated, which pioneered scientific research on how human beings perceive aircraft noise. In 1986, the Port Authority reached an agreement with airlines operating at JFK that levied a $250 penalty against any airline that exceeded the noise departure limit of 112 PNdB (perceived noise decibel levels).

To monitor compliance with the departure noise limit, the Port Authority installed the world’s first aircraft noise monitoring system. It consisted of 11 permanent noise monitoring units located in the nearest residential community extending from each runway’s centerline. A central location at each airport received noise-monitoring data and an airport operations agent manually matched a specific noise event with a flight.

Absent national or international regulations on jet noise emissions, the Port Authority’s departure noise limit led to the development of quieter jet engine technology, noise abatement procedures including power cutbacks, and noise abatement flight tracks. In 1985, the Port Authority prohibited the use of older Stage 1 aircraft at the three major commercial airports, and in 1989, banned the scheduling of additional flights using marginally improved Stage 2 aircraft during nighttime hours.

In 1992, the Aircraft Noise and Operations Management System (ANOMS) system for the three major airports was upgraded with flight track capability. The two primary data sources for ANOMS are aircraft radar data and noise monitoring data from the Port Authority’s  noise monitors. The radar data contains each aircraft’s position in space and its accompanying identification information, such as flight number, aircraft type, origin, and destination. Since 1992, ANOMS has been used to prepare monthly flight track data for airlines, community groups, FAA personnel, and aircraft associations to assist in identifying aircraft by defining their operational characteristics in order to resolve aircraft noise issues at our airports.

The Port Authority, prior to the FAA’s order that all aircraft be Stage 3, had restricted additional Stage 2 aircraft during night time hours, and had sought to advance the FAA timetable for Stage 3 aircraft at its airports. However, due to the passage of the Federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) of 1990, restricting Stage 2 aircraft earlier than the FAA-established deadline became substantially more difficult. Nevertheless, the Port Authority encouraged airlines to voluntarily eliminate their Stage 2 aircraft earlier than the required deadline. The Port Authority promotes a voluntary nighttime (midnight-6 a.m.) aircraft departure restriction at LGA and TEB. As of May 1, 2002, the Port Authority has been successful in prohibiting Stage 1 aircraft from operating at TEB, and as of March 2002 has received the support of the FAA in banning aircraft in excess of 100,000 pounds from operating at TEB.

The Port Authority manages a school soundproofing program in partnership with the FAA that has lowered the interior noise levels at 77 schools, fostering a more productive learning environment. Other agency initiatives, some new, include 14 CFR Part 150 Noise Compatibility Planning studies for LGA, JFK, EWR, and TEB, the PlaneNoise complaint filing system, ANOMS (including  noise monitors), the WebTrak system, and advising Airport Community Roundtables for LGA, JFK, and EWR. At TEB, the Port Authority has hosted the Teterboro Airport Aircraft Noise Abatement Committee since 1987.