Community exposure to aircraft noise has historically led to public opposition against airport activity and development. The seminal work by Schultz published in 1978 developed a correlation (exposure-response relationship) between transportation noise exposure levels in terms of the day-night average noise level (DNL) and the percentage of the population highly annoyed by that noise using social surveys, the most commonly accepted means of measuring annoyance. Schultz’ work was reaffirmed by the Federal Interagency Committee on Noise (FICON) in 1992. Since then, research in the United States on the effects of aircraft noise has lagged, while aircraft noise has continued to evolve with substantial increases in traffic volume and significant improvements in noise levels of single aircraft. It is therefore unclear whether an exposure-response relationship based on currently available data is sufficiently representative for U.S. airports today.
Aircraft noise may also disturb sleep. Developing a relationship between the degree of sleep disturbance and the level of noise exposure is a prerequisite for identifying and protecting communities from adverse noise effects. There is currently no widely accepted exposure-response relationship for sleep disturbance.
Establishing up-to-date exposure-response relationships for community annoyance and sleep disturbance in the U.S. requires an extensive data acquisition campaign covering a wide variety of airport types and geographic locations, which in turn requires a well-designed study.
Research is needed to develop a protocol for conducting large-scale social surveys to acquire data for understanding noise exposure-annoyance relationships and to develop methods to better understand the effects of aircraft noise on sleep.
The objectives of this research are to (1) develop and validate a research protocol for a large-scale study of aircraft noise exposure-annoyance response relationships across the U.S. and (2) propose alternative research methods for field studies to assess the relationship between aircraft noise and sleep disturbance for U.S. airports.