Rick Larsen and Navy Proposals to Mitigate Jet Noise are Inadequate

Rick Larsen and Navy Jet Proposals Inadequate

Congressman Rick Larsen and Navy Proposals for Growing Jet Noise Problem Draw Criticism

Congressman Rick Larsen and the Navy are being criticized for failing to address the growing problem of harmful noise from controversial EA-18G ‘Growlers,’ the loudest jets ever to fly. The Navy Growlers have become the source of noise complaints throughout Puget Sound region.

Growlers, all based at Whidbey Naval Air Station, practice low level training operations that saturate homes, business, and recreational areas with documented levels of hazardous noise. Growler noise, recognized as hazardous by the Navy’s own standards, has created what one health professional labeled, “a public health emergency” in central Whidbey Island.

Congressman Larsen, who takes much of the credit for bringing the Growlers to the region, has been accused by citizen groups of ignoring their concerns and blindly supporting the Navy’s harmful operations.

Larsen, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced on April 27 that he worked to include language in the National Defense Authorization Act that would “increase automation in carrier landings to safely ease the amount of training pilots need.”

“Larsen’s ‘long term plan’ to address community concerns ignores the cause and the seriousness of the Growler problem,” said Ken Pickard, President of Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve (COER). The following “mitigations” being proposed by Larsen and the Navy (in italics) include:

  • Reducing the time that landing gear are lowered in flight. FACT: Growler’s in flight with landing gear raised still create harmful noise that drives people out of homes and recreational areas.
  • Building a Growler “Hush House” to reduce noise from engine tests and “run-ups.” FACT: Hush houses do nothing to reduce noise from jets in flight. According to Navy personnel, a Growler Hush Houses would only hush about 120 operations out of 76,000 operations at Whidbey Island’s Naval Air Station.
  • Less use of afterburners that boost power and increase noise. Afterburner use is part of the pilot training program. Growlers generate harmful noise – even when after burners are not in use.
  • Conduct noise monitoring on the San Juans as part of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the Growlers. FACT: Studying noise doesn’t reduce it. The required study is supposed to be done before the noise and harms occur. Larsen refuses to call for a halt to Growler operations until the Environmental Impact Study is complete.
  • Increased use of flight simulators. FACT: There is nothing to indicate that simulator use, at some unidentified future date, will replace real time Growler training. The Navy maintains that real time training is essential.
  • Development of new technology, such as Chevrons (mufflers) to cut Growlers noise. FACT: Such changes, if they were to take place, would be far into the future. This option was previously considered by the Navy and would only reduce noise by 2.5 to 3 decibels at a high financial cost.

“Larsen’s non-solutions are meant to appease citizens more than they are to address the problem,” said Pickard. “Growlers, which the Navy’s own auditors found to have been designed with no consideration of noise impacts to servicemen or civilians, will continue to harm the people and the environment the Navy is supposed to protect.”

The same Growlers also practice electromagnetic warfare training over the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park and Forest. “Larsen’s proposals do nothing to alleviate the multitude of problems and harm to people and wildlife that this causes,” said Ron Richards, Chair of Save the Olympic Peninsula.

Larsen’s and the Navy’s proposals come at a time when resolutions addressing the problem are being considered throughout the region. Larsen’s proposals set the bar low enough for the Navy and its Growlers to “hop, skip and jump over” according to COER. COER and other organizations maintain that the Puget Sound is not the place for Growler operations, especially when other far more reasonable locations are available.


Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve:

Save The Olympic Peninsula:


  1. Joe "AvgeekJoe" Kunzler

    Well, well COER speaks again.
    I can still hear with headphones on me typing on the keyboard after listening to EA-18Gs in afterburner. I hope for burners tomorrow at OLF.

  2. Mike Lamont

    § 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.

    Except during takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

    (a) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
    (b) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

    * Next time you people claim the jets fly below FAA altitudes, remember this law above – this is the only reference to minimum altitudes in the Federal Aviation Regulations. The jets can fly down to 500 feet anywhere. And please note the leading sentence – “Except during takeoff or landing”. That means there are no minimum altitudes during landing, which should be obviously to even lay persons such as yourselves. Expert pilots, like us, know this rule backwards and forwards. You can do nothing about it.

  3. Mike Lamont

    Oh yeah, and the DOD has a waiver to 100 feet on low level routes, just like your video depicts. So military pilots are waived from all parts of the rule I sent you.

    Under OPNAV Instruction 3710.7. FAA grants a blanket waiver for military low level training. Just in case you had something to say about that.

  4. James Arnold

    I love you you guys are being played on this one:

    1st – the “new” technology doesn’t actually reduce FCLP requirements. Instead of lets say 10 landings per pilot, each pilot needs 5 landings. However, we are doubling the number of pilots in the Growler fleet. So this great “solution” is a net 0 gain for COER. It’s great!

    Chevrons will never be put on the jet. The decrease in performance for minimal reduction in noise and incredible cost is simply not valid. No chance.

    Flight simulators are used already. Doesn’t replace flying the jets. It’s complementary – not supplementary training.

    Afterburners and fuel dumps will be used whenever pilots choose. There is no regulation you can put in place because the pilots will simply say that it is a “Safety of flight” issue, and then, there’s absolutely nothing you can do. The pilot in command of an aircraft has the absolute final say as to the operation of that aircraft. Not civilians, not Congressmen, the pilot and pilot alone.

    So enjoy your solutions. The pilots, once again, are laughing about this at your expense.

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