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AICUZ PROGRAM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Missions like these are preserved with the help of the Air Force Civil Engineer's Center's Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program, which protects real estate in and around our installations to preserve training areas, maintain mission readiness and minimize land encroachment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Norman)

C-17 Globemaster III aircraft on the runway at Altus Air Force Base, March 31, 2020. The C-17 is one of the three types of aircraft used at the base for training the next generation of mobility Airmen. Missions like these are preserved with the help of the Air Force Civil Engineer's Center's Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program, which protects real estate in and around installations to preserve training areas, maintain mission readiness and minimize land encroachment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Norman)

GENERAL INFORMATION

What is AICUZ? 
The Air Installations Compatible Use Zones, or AICUZ, program is a Department of Defense discretionary program designed to promote development compatible with military flight operations. DOD Instruction 4165.57 establishes the AICUZ program that is similar to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Federal Aviation Regulation Part 150 program for civil airports. AICUZ is a land use planning program not a land acquisition or land management program.  

What is the purpose of AICUZ?
The purpose of AICUZ is twofold: 1) to promote public health and safety through the local adoption of compatible land use controls and 2) to protect the operational capability of the air installation. It achieves these goals by promoting community growth that is compatible with the airfield operations.

Why was the AICUZ program developed?  
The Department of Defense developed the AICUZ program in response to increased urban development around military airfields. The Air Force built most of its air bases in the late 1940's and early 1950's in locations well away from urban population centers. Since then, urban growth has gradually moved closer towards the boundaries of many installations. Incompatible land usage may result in complaints or increased safety concerns over the effects of aircraft operations, leading to operational changes, which in many cases, adversely affect the flying mission.

How did the AICUZ program get started?   
In 1971, the Air Force initiated the Greenbelt concept to address the problem of increasing incompatible development, or encroachment, around airfields. Although the Greenbelt’s generalized rectangle of two and one-half miles beyond the runway end and one mile on each side provided a beginning, it was not an accurate measure for compatible land use development. In 1972, the Air Force created the AICUZ program to replace the Greenbelt concept. In the early part of 1973, the AICUZ program continued to undergo refinements. By October 1973, the Department of Defense created a more sophisticated AICUZ methodology that led to the Air Force’s current AICUZ program.

What does AICUZ do?
AICUZ assists local, state and federal officials in protecting the health, safety and welfare of civilians and military members by encouraging compatible land use while ensuring that the incompatible development does not affect the defense mission. It also helps to reduce noise impacts caused by aircraft operations while meeting operational, training and flight safety requirements, both on and near air installations.

What are AICUZ studies?
AICUZ studies are advisory planning documents the Air Force prepares to assist local governments in land-use planning near air installations and manage development. Installations use these studies to provide land-use recommendations for communities to incorporate into their planning regulations to prevent encroachment. AICUZ is advisory. The Air Force can make recommendations but local communities are responsible for controlling land use.

How are AICUZ studies prepared?
Planning and acoustic contractors prepare AICUZ studies with consideration of past and projected changes in mission, aircraft, flight paths and operational levels as well as current and projected community land use. AICUZ studies analyze the effects of aircraft noise and aircraft accident potential, and make land use development recommendations. Since the AICUZ is only advisory, the Air Force works in collaboration with its neighbors to achieve development compatible with flight operations.

Does the local government have a say in compatible use zones?
The AICUZ Program promotes collaboration between the Air Force, local governments and other stakeholders. Although the military can serve in an advisory capacity, local governments control development beyond installation boundaries. By working together through the AICUZ program, we can identify mutually beneficial opportunities to achieve compatible development.

How often are AICUZ studies prepared?
As the Department of Defense aircraft fleet and training requirements change over time, the resulting flight operations change as well. These changes can affect noise contours and necessitate an AICUZ study update. Additionally, non-operational changes, such as noise modeling methods and a local community’s land use, may also require the need for an update. The Air Force uses planning contours to reasonably foresee any possible changes to the aircraft mission over the next five to 10 years. This allows communities some stability in their long range planning efforts. Planning contours are not pre-decisional, but, as planning documents, are reasonable representations of future operations. Any actual decisions to bed down a new aircraft or make other significant operational changes will be subject to analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.  

How does the AICUZ program benefit local communities?
AICUZ presents communities with guidelines for development that is compatible in high noise and accident potential zones. This encourages long-range planning that not only helps to protect the health, safety and welfare of our neighbors from the effects of aircraft operations but allows the Air Force to plan its operations to reduce noise impacts where possible while meeting operational, training and flight safety requirements, both on and near air installations.

What is the origin and basis of the AICUZ land use guidelines for noise? 
The AICUZ land use guidelines for noise were originally based on an adaptation of two documents: the Bolt, Beranek and Newman, or BBN, study titled, “Noise Exposure Forecasts: Evolution, Extensions and Land Use Interpretations,” and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 1972 document, “Aircraft Noise Impact Planning Guidelines for Local Agencies.” These standards were further refined using the results of other airport land use studies and Air Force analyses.  

Since that time, the Federal Interagency Committee on Urban Noise published its "Guidelines for Considering Noise in Land Use Planning and Control" in June 1980. This committee included representatives from five federal departments: The Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation, Defense, Department of Veteran Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development. The guidelines represent the committee’s consensus on federal guidelines for considering noise in land use planning.

What is the basis for AICUZ implementation?  
Land-use recommendations are based on the effects of aircraft noise and the potential for aircraft accidents, and recommend that noise-sensitive land uses be sited outside of high noise zones and that people-density be limited in areas subject to accident potential. As such, the basis for communities to implement AICUZ recommendations lies in the exercising of police powers by local governments to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare. 

Who implements the AICUZ recommendations? 
The appropriate local governmental entity designated by state law implements the AICUZ study recommendations through planning, zoning and/or other land use controls. The Air Force prepares the AICUZ study based on analysis of its aircraft flight and maintenance operations, and submits its recommendations to the local government for its consideration, adoption and implementation. 

How are the AICUZ recommendations implemented?   
AICUZ implementation is a collaborative effort between the Air Force and its neighbors.  The Air Force presents the AICUZ study to local governments for consideration in their land use planning efforts. These local agencies normally implement AICUZ recommendations through the adoption of local land use controls (i.e., zoning, building codes, comprehensive plans, etc.). The program relies primarily on the voluntary actions of the local communities to consider AICUZ recommendations in their planning process. The installation also follows AICUZ guidelines on base to the maximum extent possible. The Air Force should site new construction on the installation in compatible land use areas. In circumstances when it’s not feasible, incorporate appropriate sound attenuation in the design and construction for structures in the high noise zone and limit population density within the facilities built in the accident protection zones. 

What are the Air Force’s responsibilities to its neighbors under the AICUZ program?  
The Air Force is responsible for conducting an active AICUZ program to foster compatible land use with neighboring communities by

Minimizing the adverse effects of Air Force aircraft operations on people and activities; 
• Providing planning information and studies to local, regional, state and federal agencies for use in formulating their land use development decisions; 
• Engaging in a cooperative land use planning process; and
• Keeping the public aware of unusual operations occurring at the base.

HEALTH

Will aircraft noise levels have an effect on the health, safety and well-being of service members and private citizens on base and in surrounding areas? 
Typically indoor effects from aircraft noise range from annoyance, temporary interruption of conversations, listening to radios, or watching TV. Most often, outdoor activities are more susceptible to interruption from aircraft noise than indoor activities. Normal residential construction techniques can provide 15-20 dB of noise reduction indoors relative to outdoor noise levels. 

Hearing damage due to noise is most often experienced in the work place and is related to long-term exposure to a constant high sound levels. The US Department of Defense considers a workplace exposure to constant sound levels of up to 85 dBA continually for an 8-hour workday to be safe for an employee over the duration of their career. Environmental health guidelines consider higher sound levels safe as long as there is a corresponding reduction in exposure time.

Exposure to aircraft overflight noise by a community is intermittent and variable, differing from the continuous exposure to a constant work place noise.  

Researchers have conducted many studies on the non-auditory physiological health effects of aviation operations. However, none have confirmed that aviation-related operations expose the public to severe health problems. Some people near airfields might find themselves more prone to noise and other related annoyances. However, the effects this has on a person will vary by individual. The European Network on Noise and Health (ENNAH 2013) in its summary report of 2013 concludes that “…..while the literature on non‐auditory health effects of environmental noise is extensive, the scientific evidence of the relationship between noise and non‐auditory effects is still contradictory.” As a result, it is not possible to state that there is sound scientific evidence that aircraft noise is a significant contributor to health disorders.

SAFETY

How safe are single engine jets?
Aircraft engines have evolved over the years and are safe and reliable. While the Navy and Marine Corps have traditionally preferred twin-engine jets, they plan to use the single engine F-35 from carriers at sea due to its reliability.

ACCIDENT POTENTIAL ZONES

What is the origin and basis of the AICUZ land use guidelines for accident potential? 
When the AICUZ program first began, there were no comprehensive studies on the potential for aircraft accidents or the location of aircraft accidents in relationship to land use. In 1973 the Air Force conducted a study of major Air Force aircraft accidents that occurred from 1968 through 1972, within 10 nautical miles of its airfields. An analysis of 369 accidents revealed that 75 percent of the aircraft accidents occurred on or adjacent to the runway (1,000 feet to each side of the runway centerline) and in a corridor 3000' (1500' either side of runway centerline) feet wide, extending from the runway threshold along the extended runway centerline for a distance of 15,000 feet. 

The DoD established three zones based on accident debris patterns and the percent of aircraft accidents occurring in each zone. These zones are the Clear Zone, Accident Potential Zone I and Accident Potential Zone II. The zones are 3000 feet wide, centered on the runway centerline and extending from the end of the runway. The Clear Zone is 3000 feet long. Accident Potential Zone I extends from the end of the Clear Zone and is 5000 feet long. Accident Potential Zone II extends from the end of Accident Potential Zone I and is 7000 feet long. The DoD used this data to formulate land use compatibility guidelines types and densities.

These zones and the land use criteria were incorporated into Air Force and Department of Defense policy. The Air Force study was the first significant effort in this area since 1952 when the President's Airport Commission published “The Airport and Its Neighbors”, better known as the “Doolittle Report”. The recommendations of this study were influential in the formulation of the accident potential zone concept. The Air Force conducted a new study of aircraft accidents in 1999 that covered 15 years (1984 – 1998). Combined with data from the original study, the cumulative percentages of aircraft accidents in the previously defined accident zones were nearly the same.

NOISE

What is noise?
Noise is unwanted sound, because it interferes with daily activities and leisure time and disrupts sleep.  It is important to recognize that perceptions of sound and noise are closely associated with human sensitivities including sound expectation, frequency of events, personal opinions about the source of the sound, along with other factors.  For example, some people like the sound of an aircraft flying overhead, it may bother others, just as some people like loud music and other people consider it a nuisance.  

How will you analyze the noise?
The Air Force models aircraft noise near airfields using a program called NOISEMAP.  Modeling allows us to determine the noise impacts of aircraft not currently at a specified installation. We base the modeling on a library of noise from actual measurements of the aircraft. We then adjust the noise to local environmental conditions and produce the noise contours. You will be able to see the contours in the draft EIS and make comments if you wish.

Why is noise evaluated?
The Air Force evaluates noise to determine environmental effects of mission changes and to assist local, regional, state and federal agencies in promoting land use compatibility.  

The Noise Control Act of 1972 established a national policy “to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their public health and welfare.” However, because military noise is a by-product of weapons used to train for national defense, Congress exempted military weapons being regulated as a product as defined by the Noise Control Act. Despite the exemption, in practice, all services have had a long-standing policy to work to minimize the public’s exposure to high noise levels.

What is “DNL”?   
DNL is the acronym for the Day Night Average Sound Level. DNL is the average sound level exposure, measured in decibels, over a 24-hour period with a 10-decibel adjustment added to sound levels for noise events occurring between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The 10-decibel adjustment for nighttime noise events accounts for the added intrusiveness of noises when background levels are low and noise sensitive activities (such as sleeping) take place. DNL relates directly to the number of aircraft over-flights, the flight performance profile of each aircraft, and the time of day when each over-flight occurs. DNL is a logarithmic quantity; therefore doubling or cutting in half the number of overflights results in only a 3-decibel change in the overall DNL. It does not double (or halve) the DNL value.  

Why does the Air Force use DNL to describe the noise environment?  
In 1974, following the Noise Control Act of 1972, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that all federal agencies adopt the Day Night Average Sound Level (DNL) noise descriptor system. Shortly thereafter, the Air Force and EPA agreed upon an implementation procedure by which all future AICUZ studies would be prepared in DNL. Based on the results of many studies, EPA and the rest of the federal government continue to use DNL as the best predictor of community reaction to aircraft noise.

If I can’t hear DNL, what noise levels am I hearing?
Because the DNL is an exposure metric that includes individual noise events, the number of events occurring during an average day, and the time of day that those events occur, you don’t hear DNL. What you hear are the individual events as they occur and not the cumulative level calculated by adding all of the individual events together over 24 hours. DNL is a function of the event sound levels and the number of noise events occurring within a 24-hour period. For events occurring after 10 p.m. and before 7 a.m., DNL includes a 10-decibel noise adjustment due to the additional annoyance of noise at night. 

Why don’t you take actual noise measurements rather than modeling the noise?
The Air Force models aircraft noise instead of actual noise monitoring for several reasons:

In modeling the aircraft noise, we use a library of actual measurements of each type of aircraft flown through an array of microphones. The Air Force can then adjust this information to local environmental conditions.

Modeling can include aircraft not normally based at a facility where monitoring cannot.

In modelling we use an average annual day for noise. Operational tempo may change from day to day; weather may require use of different runways. These factors cannot normally be accommodated during a monitoring session.

Noise contours are shown in Day-Night Average Sound Level, or DNL. The Environmental Protection Agency EPA recommends using the DNL metric, and it has held up well in challenges. By using DNL, we not only consider the loudness of aircraft, but also the number and duration of events (total noise energy), and even adds a 10-decibel penalty for late night operations after 10 p.m. and before 7 a.m. Noise modelling projects DNL levels throughout the region, not just at the edge of the field. Connecting points of equal value create noise contours. The military and local communities use DNL contours for land use planning, and because they are based on cumulative noise energy events for the day, they are different from the noise you hear, bringing in total noise energy and time of day.

What is a noise contour?
A noise contour is a line that connects points of equal value. Noise contours are similar to topographical contours on a map that show elevation.

What is a noise zone?
A noise zone is any area of land or water that lies between two noise contour lines.

Why do noise events sound louder at night? 
During nighttime hours, ambient (background) sound levels are generally lower; therefore, we may judge these events to be louder because the low ambient sound levels are used as a basis for comparison. In addition, more noise events may be audible with low ambient sound levels. In comparison, during the daytime hours, ambient sound levels are likely to be higher because normal activity masks some noise events. For example, consider a dripping water faucet. You may barely hear the drip during the daytime hours because other sounds in the environment, such as a television, are louder than the drip drowning out the sound. As other sounds are eliminated from the environment, (such as turning off the television), the overall ambient sound level is reduced and the drip becomes the dominant source of sound making it sound louder at night than it does during the day. 

FLIGHT OPERATIONS

Why do airplanes have to fly later at night in the summer? 
Night-time training is an essential skill that our aircrews must possess. Practicing at night is necessary for the realism that allows the aircrew to have confidence in their actions and aircraft during hours of darkness. Flying at night is another tactic that aircrews can use to avoid detection by the enemy and help ensure mission success. During the winter months, pilots can accomplish their training earlier because it gets dark earlier. During the summer months it becomes dark later in the evening shifting pilot training into the later hours. 

Why are some aircraft lower than others when they arrive and depart? 
Aircraft altitude is generally determined by distance from the landing or take-off runway. The closer the aircraft is to the runway, the lower the altitude. Depending on the airfield, arrivals normally descend at a fixed angle of between 2.5 and 3 degrees as they approach for landing. The angle of ascent on departures is a function of aircraft type, weight, air temperature, and wind speed. On occasion, other traffic from nearby airports may force military aircraft to hold down to lower altitudes to deconflict air traffic. 

Why do you need to fly low level (special activity airspace)?
For realistic training, the Air Force needs to train at low altitudes for various types of operations they perform such as Close Air Support and low-altitude tactical air navigation. Low-altitude training allows aircrews to practice maneuvers that are required to fight against enemy defenses and to successfully complete any combat mission.

Why does the number of aircraft operations vary from hour to hour during any given day?
There are many reasons why it might vary. Here are a few examples:

• Individual squadrons may be on different hours for training purposes (day only, day into night, night only). Where those windows overlap, the airfield might be busier (more operations) simply because there are more aircraft operating.
• Within a squadron, the flight schedule is often organized into “launches” of multiple aircraft. Those flights would train together, at the same time, before returning to the airfield for turnaround and maintenance. For example, launch of 6 aircraft for a 1.5-hour training mission away from the base, followed by 2 hours down time, followed by launch of 6 aircraft, etc. During the launches and recoveries, the airfield would be busier (more operations) than when they are off station (using Special Use Airspace or ranges) or parked for turnaround inspections and maintenance.
• Some training involves more airfield operations than other types of training.  Depending on when these events are scheduled, there may be more intensive periods of airfield operations. For example, “familiarization” and “instrument” training aircraft would involve more flying time in the local areas for  touch-and-go and instrument approach operations at the airfield than would air-to-ground sorties, which would likely have only one take-off and one landing per sortie.  Depending on what time during the day that certain sorties were scheduled (and there might be dozens of factors affecting that), there would be periods with greater or fewer airfield operations.

When departing the airfield, why can’t airplanes reduce their engine power until they reach higher altitudes?
Aircraft need a high engine power to safely climb to higher altitudes.  If aircraft fly at lower power levels, they would have to remain closer to the ground for a longer time, resulting in a greater amount of land being exposed to high noise levels.

What determines which runway is used at a military airfield?
The direction of the wind influence the runway used and the direction of arrivals and departures. Aircraft generally take-off and land into the wind. When the wind is calm, any runway can be used. Many installations designate a preferred runway for use during calm wind conditions and will often accept a slight tail wind to minimize the noise exposure to local residents.

Why do noise events sound louder at night?
During nighttime hours, ambient (background) sound levels are generally low; therefore, noise events may be judged louder because the low ambient sound levels are used as a base for comparison. In addition, more noise events may be audible at low ambient sound levels. In comparison, during the daytime hours, ambient sound levels are likely to be higher because normal activity masks some noise events. For example, consider a dripping water faucet. You may barely hear the drip during the daytime hours because other sounds in the environment, such as a television, are louder than the drip drowning out the sound. As other sounds are eliminated from the environment, (such as turning off the television), the overall ambient sound level is reduced and the drip becomes the dominant source of sound making it sound louder at night than it does during the day.  

Why are some aircraft lower than others are when they arrive and depart? 
Aircraft altitude is generally determined by distance from the landing or take-off runway. The closer the aircraft is to the runway, the lower the altitude. Depending on the airfield, arrivals normally descend at a fixed angle of between 2.5 and 3 degrees as they approach for landing. The angle of ascent on departures is a function of aircraft type, weight, air temperature, and wind speed.  

AIRSPACE/NOISE OVER MY HOUSE

Who has the ultimate control of the airspace above my house?
The Federal Aviation Administration has jurisdiction over all airspace in the United States and is the overall authority for airspace use. While landowners have a property interest in the airspace immediately above their property, this right no longer extends upwards indefinitely as was commonly understood before the birth of flight. Courts have determined that this interest is limited by the public domain called navigable airspace. The United States Congress has granted authority to regulate navigable airspace to the Federal Aviation Administration under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 and related laws. Under this authority, the Federal Aviation Administration allows aircraft operations over private lands in navigable airspace provided the aircraft operate above the minimum safe altitudes prescribed by Federal Aviation Regulation, 40 Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.119.

Military aircraft conducting operations in conformance with the requirements of Federal Aviation Regulation, Part 91 may safely fly over structures, such as houses, for any number of reasons in the normal course of flying. Flight paths over houses are frequently required for approaches and departures to established airfields.   

Aircraft are generally restricted to flight at altitudes of at least 500 feet (1,000 feet in urbanized areas) unless they are taking off or landing, or are conducting military training activities in airspace designated by the Federal Aviation Administration for low-level flight.  Once an aircraft departs from an airfield, the airfield’s air traffic controllers no longer control the movements or actions of the aircraft. Pilots flying across country are handed over to regional Air Route Traffic Control Centers; pilots may also fly using visual flight rules or in special use airspace in which the responsibility is shifted to the pilots or a different Air Traffic Controller. Air Traffic Controllers are employed by the United States government or by private companies who are contracted by the United States government.

Why can’t the airplanes fly over some other neighborhood?
Airfields often have certain traffic patterns that aircraft must follow in order to avoid a collision with other aircraft, buildings, or other landmarks. Traffic patterns are dependent on which runways are in use and must line up with the runway.

Why are airplanes flying over my house this week when they haven’t for months?
Weather or wind conditions, may require aircraft to use shift to the most suitable runway to make safe landings. This occasionally causes the planes to shift traffic patterns and land on runways that are seldom used. Also, during runway repairs, aircraft must use other runways that may bring them over different neighborhoods.

Why do some aircraft rumble, whine, and make my house vibrate?
Some aircraft tend to make a rumbling sound because their engines produce a lower frequency noise. This lower frequency is what can cause vibrations.  

How can I decrease the noise in my house?
People living near airfields can reduce inside noise through sound insulation in the walls and ceilings, solid core doors, and triple pane windows, among other strategies. Contact a professional builder to determine what strategies are appropriate for your house. 

Why can’t planes descend at a steeper angle so they fly higher over my house?
Aircraft instrument approaches must follow a specific glide slope, typically 2.5 or 3 degrees, when approaching the airfield to land. Glide slopes are specific to the approach being flown and to the airport they are landing at. Glide slopes enable pilots to follow an imaginary line that extends out from the end of the runway and land in reduced visibility situations. The angle of a specific glide slope is determined by several factors, such as terrain, obstacle avoidance, the type approach being flown, and other safety factors. Aircraft not flying instrument approaches are still required to fly a specific glide path that is normally aircraft specific and usually tied to aircraft weight. This glide path, or angle of attack, is designed for safely operating the aircraft to avoid exceeding center of gravity tolerances. 

I am nowhere near an airfield. Why are the airplanes flying so low over my house? 
There are several reasons you may be experiencing low-flying aircraft even if you don’t live in close proximity to the airfield. For example, aircraft may be lining up for landing at a runway eight to 10 miles away. Or weather conditions such as wind could require a change in flight paths. Also, some military aircraft may have a requirement to train at low levels. Normally the military conducts these operations on published low-level routes or in published special use airspace. These areas are well defined and have associated minimum and maximum altitudes for aircraft flight.

NOISE ISSUES/COMPLAINTS

Who can I talk to and what can I do to have my noise issues addressed?
You should contact the Public Affairs Office of the closest military installation either by telephone or website to identify issues with noise generated by military training and aircraft activity. They will want information regarding the time and place of the activity so that they can research the issue. The problem may have been an isolated incident and the staff should be able to tell you if that is the case after they check into the situation. However, not all problems can be solved because military aircraft must fly in order to train, move troop supplies, or provide fuel for other aircraft.

What does the Air Force do with my noise complaint?
When the Air Force receives a noise complaint, it is logged and researched to determine the source of the noise. If the caller requests a call back, relevant information is gathered and relayed in a timely manner to the caller.  

F-35

Why does the Department of Defense (DoD) need the F-35?
The F-35’s advanced capabilities transform the way we conduct operations. It is the most lethal and survivable fighter aircraft in the world, giving our pilots an advantage against any adversary and enabling them to execute their mission and come home safe. In addition to its stealth characteristic, the F-35 is net-centric – the F-35s work together to paint a comprehensive look at the battlefield, which also benefits legacy aircraft, making them more lethal. As adversaries advance and legacy aircraft age, the F-35 is critical to maintaining air dominance for decades to come.

Why is the aircraft so expensive?
We are confident that the F-35 will be equal to or less than the cost required to sustain legacy, 4th generation fighters. The F-35 weapons system reliability continues to improve lot over lot and newer jets are averaging greater than 60% availability and some operational squadrons are consistently at or above 70%. We are working on all costs elements of F-35 sustainment to ensure that we can continue to reduce costs and improve aircraft reliability.

Why are you looking at bringing the F-35 here? (For scoping meetings)
Your installation is just one of several options we are looking at to base the F-35A Lightning.  Under the National Environmental Policy Act, we work through the scoping process to find out what the community concerns are and consider them in the Draft  Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). In addition to the scoping meetings, there will be opportunities to comment on the draft document following its release.  All comments and responses will be included in the Final EIS.

Will noise increase significantly when the F-35 is flown at my nearby installation?
Noise levels will depend on the type of flight operation (departure, arrival, pattern work, straight and level flight), the power setting, altitude and weather conditions. Noise studies on the F-35 at other Air Force installations have determined that the aircraft is about as loud as the F-22, which has been flying for nearly 20 years. The F-35 uses similar departure and landing procedures currently used by our F-16s, and will adhere to existing restrictions, avoidance procedures and quiet hours. The most commonly heard audible difference between the F-35 and the F-16 (or A-10) is on take-off and on approach. We do our best to mitigate aircraft noise whenever possible during flight operations. While the F-35 is normally louder, it climbs at a greater rate on departure to quickly lower noise levels on the ground.  We also, where possible, design flight paths to minimize flights over populated areas, whenever possible. We will address noise within the DEIS and you will then have chance to comment on the document after the DEIS is released.

Will the F-35 use afterburner?
The F-35A will probably not use afterburner any more than existing aircraft such as the F-16.  Afterburner allows the F-35A to get off the ground quicker and up to altitude where it will have less impact on the ground.

Will the F-35 noise contours be bigger? (For scoping meetings)
The operational tempo, how often we fly at night, and flight profiles will all influence the noise contours. Until we’ve analyzed operational data, we won’t know if the noise contour is larger or smaller. We’ll see the contours once the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is published and then the public will get a chance to comment on them.

How loud is the F-35?
All jets make noise. However, when it comes to noise related to the F-35 conducting normal airfield flight operations, it is comparable to other high performance fighter aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and FA-18 E/F Super Hornet. 

Noise produced by an F-35 will vary based on power settings and the type of flight operations. 

Noise levels heard by the community will depend on a variety of factors such as the type of flight operations (departure, arrival, pattern work, straight and level flight), the power setting, altitude and weather conditions. 

Depending on the type of flight operation, and other variables, an F-35 can be quieter or louder than legacy jet fighters. For instance, since the F-35 has a greater climb rate than the F-16, it becomes quieter than the F-16 as it gains altitude. Additionally the noise from an F-35 may sound different from previous military jets, and this "difference" could cause people to perceive the noise as being louder (even if the measured noise levels are essentially the same).

Military bases are aware of how noise affects local communities and do their best to minimize its impact by using noise abatement procedures to reduce noise and limit flight hours when possible. However, there are times when pilots must train outside normal flying hours and fly certain routes. Any changes to local flight operations must be safe, not degrade the flying mission and should not shift noise concerns from one community to another. 

If there are questions about F-35 noise, contact your local installation public affairs office for help.

Do I have any say in the F-35 basing process?
In the United States, the impacts of basing and operating the F-35 must be analyzed for each proposed location (both the installation and the airspace) and be in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality Implementing Regulations and individual service regulations. 

Information is available to the public, and the Air Force conducts community meetings to identify community concerns before making any basing decisions. Analysis of noise impacts are included as part of the environmental analysis. 

The FAA has Stage III and future Stage IV commercial aircraft noise levels standards for commercial airports. Does the F-35 meet Stage III or Stage IV requirements? 

The F-35 is a military aircraft (not commercial), and it is louder than commercial aircraft Stage III requirements due to the thrust required for combat loading and maneuverability. 

COMPENSATION

Will the Air Force compensate me when my home loses value because of noise?
The Air Force does not have blanket Congressional authority to compensate property owners for noise associated with military activity. There are many factors associated with reduced property values, including market conditions and other local economic activities. If you believe your home has been damaged by aircraft flight activity, contact your local installation Public Affairs Office for procedures in filing a damage claim for compensation.

Will the Air Force pay for damage to my home or livestock resulting from aircraft noise?  
The Air Force has established procedures for claims against the government in cases of damage resulting from sonic booms or other Air Force activities. The Air Force investigates all submitted claims to determine the cause of the damage with claimants compensated accordingly. The claims process begins by contacting the local installation Public Affairs Office who will contact legal counterparts and provide you with information on filing a claim