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Addressing the noise challenge

Peter O’Broin, Chair of Sustainable Aviation’s Noise Working Group

Aircraft noise is a concern for some people, particularly for those who live close to flight paths. We understand these concerns and as an industry we are committed to addressing the noise challenge.

Sustainable Aviation’s Noise Road-Map, published in 2013, set out how we would reduce noise, in real, measurable terms to benefit communities across the UK. Today we are publishing a report, which demonstrates the good progress we have made in the last five years.

What this report demonstrates is how growth in air traffic is being disconnected from an increase in noise.

How have we done this? Firstly, new technology and operational improvements, designed in collaboration with local communities, have played a significant role. New generation aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 737-MAX have a noise footprint that is typically 50% smaller on departure and 30% smaller on arrival when compared with the aircraft they have replaced. Furthermore, over the past two years, we have seen an extra 60,000 ‘continuous descent’ arrivals at UK airports, reducing noise and carbon emissions.

Since 2014, the number of people significantly impacted[1] by aircraft noise around major SA Airports[2] has been reduced by 12,200, this despite a rise in passenger numbers of 13%. Our airports have also delivered significant investment in property insulation, community projects and communication materials to help address noise impacts.

We engage with local communities and their representatives so that together we can agree how best to minimise the impact of aircraft noise. Implementing a programme of mitigation, providing reassurance in the form of noise limits and investment in local communities are important outcomes from this engagement.

Whilst we have seen significant progress, much more needs to be done to limit and where possible reduce the impact of aircraft noise.  The development of new Aviation and Industrial Strategies also provide an important opportunity for the Government to ensure a policy that enables innovative solutions to noise can be developed and it will be important that support for investment in technology, which is critical to ensuring the UK is a global pioneer in tackling noise, continues.

You can read the full report here.


[1] We have used the UK Government’s current noise metric – the 57dB 16 hour LAeq noise contour – to define the onset of significant annoyance or impact from aircraft noise.  We recognise this metric is by no means fully representative of all individual’s experience of aircraft noise. We use it in this report as a way to show indicative changes in performance over time.

[2] Derived from 57dB 16-hour LAeq noise contour information provided by Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester and Stansted airports