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Noise Management - Roles and Responsibilities

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The FAA has primary responsibility for the movement of aircraft both within the airport movement area (taxiways, runways) and in the air. Air transportation affects interstate commerce; therefore, it falls under the regulatory responsibility of the federal government. The FAA designs standard air traffic procedures based on various safety, capacity, and traffic flow management considerations. Safety remains the first priority of Air Traffic Control (ATC).

The FAA also designs criteria and guidelines governing the analysis of noise exposure resulting from aircraft operations at U.S. civilian airports. The agency requires compliance with federal standards for all federally-funded noise compatibility studies and noise mitigation programs. Overall, the FAA is responsible for regulatory actions governing aircraft noise certification, noise phase-out programs, and aircraft operational restrictions.

Houston Airport System (HAS)

The Houston Airport System serves as the landlord of its airports, holding leases with airlines, concessionaires and airport-related businesses. While airport managers and staff regulate activities such as engine maintenance run-ups, they do not have authority to alter flight tracks and airspace procedures. HAS can advocate noise mitigation practices and operational procedures to contain noise exposure, but actions of the sort require approval and implementation by the FAA.


The airlines are users of the airport and airspace system. They determine their own schedule, frequency of operation, which markets to serve, what fares to charge and types of equipment to operate. They do so in compliance with federal aircraft certification and operating requirements. In addition to active Federal Aviation Regulations, airlines also set their own standard operating procedures based on best business and operating practices.


Pilots have the ultimate responsibility for the safe operation of the aircraft. Although each airline can adopt voluntary mitigation procedures and recommended best practices, pilots still retain the operational authority and discretion to make final decisions regarding the safe operation of the aircraft. Pilots are expected and encouraged to adhere to special operational procedures during departure and arrival. However, in the interest of safety, pilots may deviate from such procedures when necessary.

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