US Federal Aviation Administration Neighborhood Environmental Survey: Study Design and Survey Methodology



As part of the agency’s broader noise research program, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has undertaken a multi-year research effort to quantify the impacts of aircraft noise exposure on communities around commercial service airports in the United States (U.S.). The overall goal of the study was to produce an updated and nationally representative civil aircraft dose-response curve; providing the relationship between annoyance and aircraft noise exposure around U.S. airport communities.  To meet this goal, the FAA sponsored a research team to help design and conduct a national survey, known as the Neighborhood Environmental Survey (NES).

Residents from households around 20 airports were selected for participation in the survey; the detailed sampling process is covered in another paper.

Two survey instruments were administered to adult residents within the NES: a mail questionnaire and a follow-up telephone interview for the mail respondents. The mail survey was administered to samples of individuals in the selected airport communities in six separate “waves” over a 12-month period starting in October 2015. All mail survey respondents were invited to complete a follow-up telephone interview, which asked detailed questions on several areas including respondents’ opinions on noise, exposure to aircraft noise, relationship to the airport, concerns about aircraft operations, views on airport community relations, among others.

Analysis of the survey responses on annoyance levels and the associated DNL was used to estimate dose-response curves for each individual airport and a national dose-response curve. The national dose-response curve created from the mail questionnaire shows considerably more people are highly annoyed by aircraft noise at a given noise exposure level compared to historical FICON data.

This paper provides a detailed discussion of the survey design and methodology.  Additional information describing the motivation to conduct the NES and how its findings will help inform ongoing work to address aircraft noise concerns; and the noise methodology are provided in companion papers.