Letter to Massport on Airplane Noise (2 Responses)

On September 7, 2017, I hosted a community meeting at the Russell Youth Center along with Councillor Kelley, State Sen. Pat Jehlen, and State Reps. Rogers and Hecht to discuss the ongoing airplane noise issue over North and West Cambridge. Airplane noise over these neighborhoods increased significantly in 2013 due to the FAA’s adoption of the RNAV routing system, causing increased use of runway 33L. This concentrates departing flights over Cambridge, causing significant noise and health impacts to residents.

Following that meeting, I sent a letter cosigned by my colleagues mentioned above to the CEO of Massport, the City Manager, Cambridge staff, representatives from Congressman Capuano and Congresswoman Clark’s office, and the co-chairs of the recently-formed Fair Skies Caucus in the state legislature. The text of the letter is copied here.


October 16, 2017


Tom Glynn, Executive Director
Massachusetts Port Authority
One Harborside Drive, Suite 200S
East Boston, MA 02128


Dear Mr. Glynn,

On September 7, 2017, we hosted a community meeting to discuss the ongoing airplane noise disturbances over North and West Cambridge. As state and local elected officials, there are few complaints that we receive more frequently than issues created by excessive noise from constant departing aircrafts from Logan International Airport. We wanted to give the community the time and space to have these very real concerns heard and addressed as best we could.

We were joined by Bill Deignan, Cambridge’s representative to the Massport Community Advisory Committee, Kate Chang from Congressman Capuano’s office, and Wade Blackman from Congresswoman Clark’s office. About 70 Cantabrigians and affected residents from adjacent communities attended the meeting at the Russell Youth Center.

We had a robust conversation about various aspects of this issue, including the history of the RNAV system, the increased use of Runway 33L for departures, the noise and health impacts, steps that have been taken by Cambridge residents and neighboring communities, and what can be done to reduce the hours of noise and overall noise levels. We would like to relay the following list of questions and concerns that were expressed at this meeting:

  • There is serious concern about the health impacts of the constant noise from departing flights that the RNAV system directs over a narrow corridor at short intervals. Sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, stress, hearing impairment, and heart issues are just some of issues that residents are concerned about.  What can be done to ensure that these health issues are adequately studied and addressed?
  • To what extent will Massport and the FAA be required to follow the recommendations of the forthcoming MIT study?
  • What can be done to include Cambridge in the Massport/FAA sound insulation program for homes as a mitigation effort?
  • What additional measures, Federal or otherwise, are available to Cambridge residents seeking to mitigate the impact from airplane noise?


We request that these issues, concerns, and questions be addressed. We will be taking all available actions that we, as state and local officials, can to address these concerns. We await the results of the MIT study next spring, and hope that its recommendations are carefully considered and implemented to lessen the severe burden of noise over our communities.


Thank you for your attention to this serious and urgent matter.



Jan Devereux, Cambridge City Councillor
Craig Kelley, Cambridge City Councillor
Pat Jehlen, State Senator
Jonathan Hecht, State Representative
Dave Rogers, State Representative



Louis DePasquale, Cambridge City Manager
Bill Deignan, Cambridge Representative to Massport Community Advisory Committee
Kate Chang, Cambridge Liaison for Congressman Capuano
Wade Blackman, District Counsel for Congresswoman Clark
State Senator Walter F. Timilty, Co-Chair of the Fair Skies Caucus
State Representative Joan Meschino, Co-Chair of the Fair Skies Caucus


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    Jan Devereux
    City Councillor
    Cambridge, MA