Aviation noise, and why it matters

Information on aviation noise and the work of the CAA

There’s no getting away from the fact that aviation can be noisy.  When aircraft land and take off – and depending on the aircraft and its altitude, as they fly overhead – they produce a considerable amount of noise.
Aviation noise in the UK
Nonetheless, aviation noise negatively affects more people in the UK than any other country in Europe. Clearly, the highest levels of noise are experienced close to the busiest airports: noise from Heathrow at a level classified as ‘significantly annoying’ impacts more people than any other airport in Europe.

The challenge ahead: increasing capacity, reducing noise
Government and the aviation industry have worked to try and reduce the impact of noise by:

  • creating quieter aircraft 
  • restricting the times airports can operate and the routes that can be used, and 
  • in some cases, capping the total number of flights that can take place from an airport.

But with people’s desire to fly consistently growing, there’s a real challenge ahead: how can aviation grow without worsening the impact of aviation noise?

To answer that, we need to understand more fully how noise is created and what the effects of noise are. Then we can look at how aviation noise can be reduced or its effects mitigated; this requires an understanding of how aviation noise is measured.

Noise and the CAA
The CAA has three key roles around aviation noise: 

  • Airspace management
  • Noise monitoring and information provision
  • Research into the effects of noise and how they can be reduced 

Read more about the CAA's role around aviation noise

Noise certification
Standards exist to try and manage aviation noise: aircraft have to obtain a noise certificate, granted by the national regulatory authority – the CAA in the UK – that proves they meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for noise

Details of noise certificates for individual UK-registered aircraft can be found on G-INFO, the UK register of civil aircraft.