Aviation noise is unwanted sound generated by aircraft, and it is a serious and growing problem. Many people regularly hear aircraft noise. Those living near civil and military airports are severely affected by take off and landing noise. The impact is greatest near the perimeter of the airport and below flight paths. Measures introduced to reduce noise include Noise Preferential Routes and restrictions on night flying. Maximum noise limits for departing aircraft are set and monitored and noise insulation schemes operate. Noise from aircraft on the ground is the responsibility of the airport management company. To comply with the EU Environmental Noise Directive, operators of airports with over 50,000 movements a year are responsible for drawing up Noise Action Plans by 18th July 2008. The World Health Organisation has expressed concern about the impact of aviation on human health. Long term (5-30 years) exposure to air traffic noise levels averaging 65 to 75 decibels increases blood pressure and the risk of hypertension. Sleep disturbance leads to fatigue, hypertension, greater risk of heart and respiratory problems, poor concentration in work and school, increased risk of accidents, depression, anxiety and higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse. (Greenskies Alliance). Residents are entitled to be protected from excess noise from airports but it is necessary to take into account costs in terms of lost capacity and the impact on economic growth in a region, according to the new Commission proposal.
Steps to reduce noise pollution: for a healthier environment / European Commission (2011, 12 p.): thematic issue covering different aspects of airport noise pollution and related topics. Contains also a selection of articles on Environmental Noise from the Science for Environment Policy news alert.
Summaries of EU legislation:
Europe’s Airports 2030: The 10 key facts and figures (2011, press memo)
European Parliament library summaries (2012): internal links:
Member states plan action to cut airport noise / Geert Plas, 2012
Noise on the ground and in the air: not the same! / Geert Plas, 2012
A Review of the Literature Related to Potential Health Effects of Aircraft Noise: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has released a report that explores the potential link between aircraft noise and cardiovascular problems in individuals impacted by the noise.
Aircraft Noise Pollution: a Model of Interaction between Airports and Local Communities / Nicola Gualandi and Luca Mantecchin (2008, 5 p.): Air transport represents a dynamic and fast growing industry that fits well with the needs of nowadays society. Regional airports occupy a central role within the deregulated market since they represent preferred destinations for low-cost carriers and spokes for network carriers. However aviation represents a source of environmental externalities, especially at local level, which interferes with human activities.
Warum wir aufwachen – Auswirkungen von Verkehrslärm auf das Schlafverhalten / Luft- und Raumfahrtmedizin des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) (website): Verkehrslärm nervt! Verkehrslärm verursacht Stress und Verkehrslärm macht krank! Diesen Aussagen werden die meisten Menschen zustimmen. Um die Auswirkungen des Lärms zu bekämpfen, muss man aber zunächst verstehen, welche Art von Lärm wie auf den Menschen wirkt.
Study of Aircraft Noise Exposure at and around Community Airports : Evaluation of the Effect of Measures to Reduce Noise / European Commission – MPDGroup (2007, annexes): the study contains an assessment of the changes in the total impact of aircraft noise within the European Union since the entry into force of the Directive; an inventory of measures to mitigate that noise at and around Community airports since its entry into force; § an inventory of already planned actions to mitigate aircraft noise with respect to gradual withdrawal of marginally compliant aircraft and to night flight restrictions; a detailed analysis of the above with a view to establishing how likely the Community is to achieve its objective of limiting aviation noise at and around Community airports under existing legislation, and to identify possible improvements to that legislation, inter alia by examining more stringent phase out options.
Lärmschutz auf EU-Flughäfen / Centrum für Europäische Politik (2012, 4 p): Zur Lärmminderung in der Umgebung von Flughäfen hat die Internationale Zivilluftfahrtorganisation (ICAO) den sogenannten „ausgewogenen Ansatz“ entwickelt, wonach die jeweils kosteneffizienteste Maßnahmenkombination ausgewählt werden soll. Mit dem Verordnungsvorschlag der Kommission soll nun eine stärkere Kohärenz sowohl innerhalb der EU als auch mit den ICAO-Vorgaben zur Einführung lärmbedingter Betriebsbeschränkungen hergestellt werden.
What are the Health Effects of Airport Noise and Airport Pollution? / About.com, Environmental Issues
Impact assessment of the proposal: The aim of the Directive is to facilitate the introduction of operating restrictions in a consistent manner at airport level so as to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by the harmful effects of noise. (SEC/2011/1455)
Airport noise / Greensky Alliance (factsheet, website): Noise continues to be the major problem for communities living around airports and under flight paths, especially at night. Aircraft noise has raised conflict ever since the first jet flight.
What are the Health Effects of Airport Noise and Airport Pollution? (website with related articles): Airport noise and pollution linked to increased health problems: On a questionnaire distributed to two groups–one living near a major airport, and the other in a quiet neighborhood–two-thirds of those living near the airport indicated they were bothered by aircraft noise, and most said that it interfered with their daily activities. The same two-thirds complained more than the other group of sleep difficulties, and also perceived themselves as being in poorer health.
Some case studies:
Airport related noise pollution / briefing note by Hakan (2012, 3 p.): The Government has claimed that a third runway at Heathrow and a significant increase in flight numbers (an increase of almost 50% from 2007 levels by 2030 would not conflict with the existing the noise limits However, there are serious question marks over the Government’s noise calculation methodology, which understates the extent of the problem and the number of people affected.
Social costs of noise at Madrid Barajas Airport / European Transport Conference (2005, 26 p.)
London City Airport: noise page (website with many links to relevant and related information)
A Comparative Analysis of Annoyance From Aircraft Noise At Three European Airports (Bucharest, Lyon and Manchester; 2005, 17 p.)
Court of Justice:
Case C-120/10, European Air Transport SA: Member States can establish maximum noise levels, as measured on the ground, to be complied with by airlines overflying areas located near an airport. Text of judgment (8/9/2011).
Airports Council International: ACI Global Traffic Forecast 2012-2031: The 2013 edition of the ACI Global Traffic Forecast Report covers 2012-2031. It is based on detailed inputs from close to 200 airports all over the world
The 2011 ACI World Airport Traffic Report covers detailed traffic statistics for over 1,400 airports in more than 150 countries by three thematic areas: passengers, cargo (freight and mail) and aircraft movements. International and domestic traffic breakdowns are presented as well. With new sections on traffic concentration, seasonality and airport output, the report also includes exhaustive traffic analysis, trend charts, country-by-country, region-by-region and airport-by-airport data for the 2011 calendar year in PDF format. An Excel version of the raw data is also
Related legislative procedure(s)
PROPOSAL for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at Union airports within a Balanced Approach and repealing Directive 2002/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
Procedure file in PRELEX: COM/2011/0828 final