• Noise legislation

    The world's noisiest airliners are effectively banned from UK airports through a combination of European and national legislation.

    Any subsonic jet aeroplane that has either

    • a maximum take-off mass of 34,000kg or more, or
    • more than 19 passenger seats

    must be "chapter 3 compliant". This means it must meet the noise standards set out in Chapter 3 of Part II, Volume 1 of Annex 16 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

    Exemptions

    The CAA can grant temporary exemptions from these requirements to specific flights, but only in very specific circumstances. Exemptions may be granted where the CAA is satisfied:

    • (a) that the operations of the aeroplane are of such an exceptional nature that it would be unreasonable to withhold an exemption (for example urgent relief flights, official visits by Heads of State); or
    • (b) that the aeroplane is being operated on a non-revenue flight for the purposes of alterations, repair or maintenance.

    Recent exemptions include:

    The CAA will also consider applications for exemptions in relation to aeroplanes of historical interest.

    Applying for an exemption

    To apply for a noise exemption, you will need to contact:

    Strategy and Policy
    Civil Aviation Authority
    45-59 Kingsway
    London WC2B 6TE

    Trevor Metson
    Telephone: 020 7453 6230
    Email: trevor.metson@caa.co.uk

    If you need to reach us out of hours, please call the CAA's Duty Officer. One of us will then respond as soon as we can: 020 7379 7311

    Please note that an exemption will not be issued where the flight could reasonably be operated using a Chapter 3 compliant aircraft, even if, for example, the Chapter 3 compliant aircraft will cost more to charter or has a capacity or payload greater than needed.

    What to include in an application

    • Details of the flight(s)
    • Aircraft type, registration and operator
    • Why a Chapter 3 compliant aircraft cannot be used (if the reason is lack of availability, evidence should be produced of efforts to source a Chapter 3 compliant aircraft)
    • Whether the UK airport concerned has been consulted

    and, in the case of urgent relief flights:

    • On whose behalf each item of cargo is being carried (e.g. aid organisations)
    • A brief description of each item of cargo

    Consultation with the DfT

    Before granting an exemption, the CAA is required to consult the Secretary of State for Transport. The CAA is also likely to consult with the Department for Transport in cases where the CAA is not convinced that an application fully meets the criteria for exemption.

    Grant of an exemption

    The grant of any exemption will be on the public record. No passengers or cargo may be carried for hire or reward on positioning sectors. The exemption will specify a date, UK airport for each flight, and each take off or landing at the UK airport. Times will usually be limited to the hours 0830 to 2030 local time. A copy of the exemption should be carried on the flight deck at all times. In the case of an urgent out-of-hours application, the exemption will be authorised by telephone under a unique reference number.

    Legislative background

    Under the terms of Directive 2006/93 , which replaces the original Council Directive 92/14/EEC adopted in 1992, civil subsonic jet aeroplanes with a maximum take-off mass of 34,000kg or more, or with more than 19 passenger seats, operating at airports in EU Member States are required to be "Chapter 3 compliant" - that is, certificated as meeting the noise standards specified in Chapter 3 of Part II, Volume 1 of Annex 16 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

    This requirement, which effectively bans the noisiest airliners from UK airports, was introduced into UK national legislation by The Aeroplane Noise Regulations 1999 and came into force on 1 April 2002. Regulation 25 makes the CAA responsible for granting specific, temporary exemptions from this ban.

    Other relevant UK noise legislation

    EU Regulation 598/2014 sets out a framework for the introduction of airport-specific measures with a view to addressing noise problems in the most cost-effective way on an airport-by-airport basis. There is no blanket prohibition of noisy aircraft, other than those identified above. Instead, the Regulation sets out a process that must be followed where such action is being contemplated, a process designed to enable local solutions to be developed for local problems.

    Other links

    More information about the CAA's environmental work.