I live in a town house development along the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Our houses are directly under the flight path about five miles from Reagan National Airport. Commercial aircraft landing and taking off are regular occurrences. Aircraft noise – especially when the wind is from the south and airliners are at full power – is something we have to live with.
I’m not complaining about the noise. DCA was there long before my development was built. But, it is something, like high tide after a strong rain, that is on our minds.
As convenient as the airport is to government officials, Washingtonians, and residents of Arlington and suburban Maryland, the arriving and departing planes are omnipresent and disrupt what are otherwise fairly quiet communities by comparison to other major American cities. Anyone who has flown out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, is acquainted with the carrier-like launch to abide by noise abatement rules.
It is a problem that has been discussed for decades. In the early 1980s, DCA imposed a 10 p.m. – 7 a.m. curfew on most aircraft landings and take offs. That rule was relaxed as newer, quieter engines were introduce and noisy 727s were retired or sold off by the airlines. As passenger volume continues to rise at Reagan, there is certainly no taste for returning to restricting flight operations.
But new aircraft technologies might provide some respite for our communities. The new C Series aircraft developed by Bombardier are redefining regional jet travel, and have implemented advanced noise reduction technologies that could present a new solution for communities like those surrounding airports like Reagan.
The C Series jets are powered by two Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, constructed in a unique geared configuration that reduces engine noise by 50 to 75 per cent, creating both a more comfortable flight environment and reducing noise impacts on the ground. Beyond engine noise, the C Series has made significant design improvements meant to improve everything from fuel efficiency to passenger experience over the regional jets currently plying the skies above and around Washington.
Consumers look forward to the inclusion of new aircraft and technologies to airline fleets across the world. Newly developed aircraft, like Bombardier’s C Series, are debuting at a time when customers’ comfort and safety standards are increasingly within the public view. The C Series leaves behind the notion of regional passenger jets as a throwback to propeller-driven flying cattle cars. In addition to lower noise production, these aircraft have the lowest emissions footprint in their category.
Delta Airlines recently issued a purchase order for 75 CS100 aircraft as part of a program for renewing their narrow body fleet. With the inclusion of the C Series, Delta flights and Delta flyers up and down the East Coast could soon see improved efficiency and passenger experience on these traditional regional jet routes.
Competition in the marketplace has often proven to be the best possible solution to enhancing the experience of air travel. For many of DMV residents accustomed to the constant whine of aircraft engines, or for flyers accustomed to the current conditions of regional jets, the new C Series aircraft may be the solution we have been waiting for, especially for those of us who call non-hub airports like DCA home.