The Federal Aviation Administration has signed off on the $126 million airport noise settlement that will provide sound-dampening help to more than 9,000 homes in Minneapolis, Richfield and Eagan.

In a letter released Friday, the agency said the settlement is an allowable use of airport revenue and doesn't run afoul of the airport's federal obligations.

That hurdle is one of two that the settlement must clear for the noise program to begin. The other is approval by those involved in a separate class-action lawsuit that sought similar noise relief. A court hearing on that matter is scheduled for Jan. 15 in Hennepin County District Court.

The noise settlement was announced in October. It settles a lawsuit by the three cities alleging that the Metropolitan Airports Commission reneged on an earlier agreement to insulate homes with an average noise exposure of 60 to 64 decibels.

STEVE BRANDT