DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — It wakes up some homeowners in the middle of the night — loud airplane noise.
Homeowners in the Brook Glen neighborhood say it’s a constant problem, especially in the dead of night.
Neighbors from the South DeKalb County neighborhood — about 8 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — reached out to Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray about the noise caused by incoming and outgoing flights.
They said it wasn’t always that way and things got really bad about three years ago. Homeowners said they’ve tried to get help, but it’s still a problem.
“It sounds like a war zone. It’s just a rat-a-tat-tag and the trembling and shaking,” said a homeowner, who asked only to be identified as Debra.
“The noise is … it’s a problem. Planes a lot lower,” neighbor Eugene Fleming said.
“At 4 o’clock this morning, I jumped out of bed,” Lanny Davis said.
It woke up his wife too.
“She said ‘What is that?’ We thought the plane was crashing or something,” Davis said. “If you have something planned and you need to wake up at four, you don’t need to turn on your alarm.”
The planes fly over the Brook Glen community from early in the morning to late at night.
“They’re coming in constantly at 10 and it lasts until about 12 o’clock,” neighbor Tiffany Hogan said.
The loud, constant noise can be scary.
“Is the plane about to land on my house? Because it’s so loud,” Hogan said.
The noise also keeps homeowners from enjoying their backyards.
“I can’t sit on my patio at certain times of the day,” neighbor Carolyn Jones said.
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Gray talked to a group of homeowners in the subdivision off Flakes Mill Road after a neighbor emailed Channel 2 Action News about the loud plane noise.
“It’s low enough where you’re like, ‘Where is it going? Is it actually going to the airport? Is it going down?’” neighbor James Bailey said.
The homeowners told Gray that their neighborhood has always been within Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s flight path, but more planes started coming and flying lower, making the noise worse in 2019.
That was when the Federal Aviation Administration started using NextGen, a more efficient air traffic control system.
“And it was never like that?” Gray asked Hogan.
“Never. And I’ve lived here since I was a kid. We’ve never had this issue,” Hogan said.
Neighbors said they were never told about the switch to NextGen.
“Why all of a sudden, we’re hearing all this noise and the planes are flying low, and we’ve got no word?” Bailey said.
Debra lives in a nearby neighborhood. She said she tried to qualify for the airport’s noise abatement program but was told it’s only for College Park residents.
She spent $10,000 to replace her windows.
The low-flying planes cause other problems too.
“So, it knocks off your TV signal and your internet?” Gray asked Debra.
“Oh yes,” Debra said.
Neighbors wonder if their concerns aren’t being addressed because they live in a mostly African American community.
“Maybe we won’t complain? You don’t get complaints, then they can continue doing what they’re currently doing,” Davis said.
One neighbor did file a complaint with the FAA and reached out to Rep. Hank Johnson’s office.
“We should be able to have some way of mitigating the noise that those folks complain of,” Johnson said.
He told Gray he’s waiting for a report on NextGen noise from the FAA that is past due.
The FAA sent Channel 2 Action News a statement, saying:
“FAA air traffic controllers use various runway configurations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport based on factors including runway availability, weather conditions and aircraft volume. Specific geographic areas can experience different levels of noise depending on the runway selection.
“The FAA reviewed flight tracks for aircraft flying over the Ellenwood neighborhood and found most are at altitudes between 3,800 and 4,100 feet.
“The FAA does not implement noise compatibility programs on behalf of airports. Please contact the airport authority for additional information.”
Neighbors said they want action.
“Should revert back to the pattern that they had before we had this problem. And that would satisfy us,” Davis said.
“What are we going to do? Continue just prisoner-ing ourselves in our homes?” Debra said.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport sent a statement, saying:
“The Airport has researched the complaint and determined that air traffic procedures over the identified area have not changed since 2011. Hartsfield-Jackson recognizes its role as not only an economic engine for the region, but just as importantly, a community partner. ATL has addressed thousands of eligible homes as part of its noise abatement program, interacting with community leaders and elected officials who govern the surrounding areas. Airport officials collaborate with regulatory agencies and the community to address concerns when they arise.”
NextGen is used at other airports across the country and there have been complaints in other cities, too.
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