129. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of Transportation for International Affairs and Special Programs (Agger) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Loy)1

Dear Frank:

I think we will need some fairly intensive consultations (including consultations with you), and plenty of careful thought before definitive conclusions can be reached on the points raised in your March 15 letter2 concerning the Concorde noise question. We are also well aware here in DOT that the question and its many ramifications have to be brought in hand soon.

Our preliminary information (confirming your understanding) is that the Concorde will be very noisy, reaching levels significantly beyond those we contemplate as standards of tolerance for noise control purposes. Unfortunately, we will not have a fully adequate basis for decisions until we obtain the noise level measurements to be made in connection with the Concorde flight tests. There is no substitute for such data in assessing how the Concorde will really sound in various stages of take-off or landing, and in different modes of operation. We expect to have such information shortly after the forthcoming tests, and our technical authorities here have every confidence (given past experience with their French and British counterparts) that the data will be timely, reliable, and complete. Data should also be available during the early phases of flight testing to permit considering the related and equally if not more difficult question of the sonic boom.

Meanwhile, it is obvious that the noise/sonic boom question, coming ripe with the approach of an operational Concorde, is a web of technical, legal, social, economic, and political issues. It is being undertaken here in DOT to put these many aspects into some coherent form, because that kind of understanding will be essential for any decision about the admissibility of aircraft; the conditions (such as speeds, times, routings, or operational modes) to be applied to their flights; and the distribution of responsibility (e.g., as between the DOT and local airport authorities) for various parts of our solutions. We recognize that the overall problem also contains important international factors, and that [Page 234] these must be taken into account. I look forward to discussing these aspects with you very soon. I think it might also be worthwhile if you would indicate a point-of-contact in your office with whom we might be in touch as the DOT work on this problem proceeds.


Donald G. Agger 3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, AV 6 US. No classification marking.
  2. These points included: “From various sources of late, we understand that the Concorde engines may or will be very noisy. If so, we could have some rather severe problems at the United States airports where these planes will be operated.” (Ibid.)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.