On March 9th, Allan Kittleman entered written testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, a committee for which he once served as Maryland State Senate representing District 9, supporting SB 658 – Transportation – Maryland Aviation Infrastructure Impacts Commission.
NextGen is the Federal Aviation Administration’s modernization program and replaces decades-old radar-based air-traffic control system in order to make use of new GPS technology. The idea is to reduce flight delays and meet congressional mandates to cut carbon emissions and fuel consumption.
However, since NextGen was put into effect, residents in the BWI flightpath have complained about drastic increases in the volume and frequency of airplane noise. In some areas, the regularized system of GPS waypoints, together with lower-altitude turns and approaches, has caused citizens to petition the federal Government and file lawsuits.
SB 658 doesn’t force the FAA to make changes to NextGen, but it does create a commission with members from Howard County aimed to study potential policy alternatives and make recommendations to the Maryland General Assembly.
Many folks have heard me say this, but it has never been more true than in this instance: “If you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.” The FAA put our residents on the menu when they left them out of the discussion.
In my former role as Howard County Executive, I heard from many residents whose quality of life was dramatically altered by the incessant sound of planes taking off or landing, to which they had not been subjected before the implementation of NextGen. A common phrase I heard was “life changing”, and I believe this was not just hyperbole. As a result, I took action, trying to engage the FAA in a review of this program and even pursued legal options to help the community. Unfortunately, they have been unsuccessful to date and our residents have been left to suffer the consequences.
I appreciate those who have moved this legislation forward, as I believe our residents deserve a forum to understand the impacts of changes at our growing airports and communicate their perspectives with the appropriate decision makers. That is the only way we can continue to improve and prevent the unintended consequences of NextGen from ever happening again.Allan Kittleman, March 9th, 2022