Noise complaints around the region's airports are skyrocketing, even when weeding out a remarkable number of complaints made by the same few individuals repeatedly.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has directed the state to sue the Federal Aviation Administration on behalf of residents impacted by aircraft noise.
Noise complaints for Reagan National and Dulles combined grew from about 10,000 in 2015 to more than 42,000 in 2016. Near BWI Marshall International Airport, they grew from about 850 in 2014 to 2,700 in 2016.
A change in the way the FAA manages flights is at the heart of the matter. Thanks to a switch to a GPS and satellite-based air traffic control system called NextGen, the agency is now able to reroute aircraft for maximum efficiency. It is also able to safely put more planes in the same airspace.
NextGen is expected to save billions of dollars in fuel costs, improve safety and make airports more efficient in the coming years. It has also resulted in an explosion of noise complaints.
Phoenix has successfully sued the FAA to force the agency to re-examine the routes around that city's Sky Harbor Airport that NextGen has opened.
In Washington, residents can track flights in real-time, and see simultaneous data displays from noise monitoring stations on the ground.