Anyone in the U.S. who lives under a flight path — about 7 million people — has something to celebrate. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled to make noise reduction mandatory on all new aircraft produced in the country.
Beginning January 1, 2018, the FAA regulation will ensure that new subsonic jets and large airplanes will operate at least seven decibels quieter than the airplanes that are currently flying over U.S. skies.
While seven decibels is not very much (it’s only about the sound level of breathing), multiplied by an average of 9,728 planes in the sky at any given moment, the potential for noise reduction is considerable. The agency hopes to soon reduce noise pollution from airplanes by 32 decibels.
The regulation won’t have an immediate impact on noise levels, but as airlines replace their fleet with newer, quieter models, those living near airports could notice a difference.
The ruling is part of the agency’s ongoing mission to reduce pollution created by aviation, known as the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) Program. The program also targets noise pollution through improved land use planning around airports. Engineers employed by the agency will also examine new aircraft operating procedures to reduce noise even further.
Besides just making quieter skies, the new mandate could have a real impact on the lives of those living around airports. Earlier this year, researchers discovered that living somewhere affected by aircraft noise increases blood pressure, which can cause organ damage and increase risk of a heart attack.