Noise and the CAA

How the CAA monitors aviation noise and how it works to minimise its impact

The CAA has three key roles around aviation noise:

  • We manage the way airspace is used, so can help limit the effects of noise through the routes that aircraft take.
  • We monitor noise around UK airports, and publish information about noise levels and impacts. We do this for a range of customers including the UK Government, airport operators, airspace change proposers and local authorities.
  • We collaborate on and review research into the effects of noise and how they can be reduced, and offer advice to Government on these effects.

    Read about each of our roles in further detail 

What the CAA doesn’t do
The CAA does not decide what amount of noise is considered damaging or annoying for people – while our research often feeds into these decisions, the levels are set by the UK and European Government. We also don’t decide whether a particular plan for an airport, such as an extension, should be approved (that is for Local Authorities to decide) – though we are often asked to comment on proposals.

Who works on noise in the CAA?
In total, the CAA employs eleven people who focus full time on aviation noise. They are part of the Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD) and have many years of experience working on noise, in particular aviation noise, and strong academic backgrounds in noise research and analysis. 

Areas of expertise:

  • Noise monitoring and regulation
  • Noise contours
  • Noise effects
  • Noise model development and analysis
  • Environmental assessment of airspace

Noise publications
The CAA in general and ERCD in particular have produced a number of reports over the years, particularly on the topic of noise modelling. A full list of our reports is available here.

How do we pay for our noise work?
Around 90% of the CAA’s income comes from fees that we charge the aviation industry to operate – that means that if someone wants a pilot’s licence, or they wish to run an airport, or set up an airline, they are legally obliged to hold a licence from the CAA, and they have to pay for it. Most of our functions are funded using this money, including our work setting airspace and providing information about noise.

The one area that is different is our noise modelling, where around three quarters of the money comes from Government, which pays the CAA to use our noise model to produce noise contours for major airports and provide them with other technical support and expertise. We also offer similar services to local authorities and the aviation industry, which makes up the remainder of our income.  Current and recent clients include the following:

  • Airports Commission
  • Birmingham Airport
  • Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Heathrow Airport
  • Heathrow Hub Limited
  • Manchester Airport
  • Southampton Airport
  • Stansted Airport
  • Transport for London (TFL)

Contact Us

Dr Darren Rhodes, Head of ERCD
Civil Aviation Authority, Room K404/5, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE

Tel: +44 (0)20 7453 6089
Fax: +44 (0)20 7453 6097