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D.C. area Congress members ask for official study on helicopter noise, citing shaking homes

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and others say some residents are reporting an uptick in noise disturbances

A helicopter flies above the Potomac River, near the Georgetown Waterfront
Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

It sounds like a lot of residents in the D.C. region are hearing bothersome helicopter noise on a regular basis, according to five Democratic congressional members who represent the area.

In a letter to the head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Monday, the lawmakers requested a formal study of regional helicopter noise, writing that some of their constituents “have noted recent increases in the frequency and severity” of the noise. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Virginia Rep. Don Beyer, and Maryland Reps. Jamie Raskin, Anthony Brown, and David Trone sent the letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

“Many of our constituents live with the impacts of regular helicopter noise that interrupts sleep patterns, causes their homes to shake and negatively impacts their quality of life,” the lawmakers wrote. They said they hoped a study would help “identify strategies to minimize the negative impacts of helicopter activity without impeding the work of agencies operating helicopters in the region,” including for law enforcement, military, and medical endeavors.

A spokesman for the GAO confirmed that the office has received the Congress members’ letter, adding that it will be reviewed “before any decisions are made.” That process usually takes “a few weeks,” he said. In their letter, the lawmakers asked for a response within 30 days and outlined issues they would like for the GAO to study: “the types of helicopters that generate the most noise,” current flight paths in the region, neighborhood impacts, altitudes, and the daily number of flights. They are also seeking “viable options for noise mitigation.”

This is far from the first time D.C. area residents have complained about noise from airborne vehicles. In recent years, some have said airplane noise from local airports is growing louder.