Noise Exemptions

Operations at UK airports by Chapter 2 sub-sonic jet aircraft of 34t and above are not permitted unless specifically exempted by the CAA from the relevant noise legislation.

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.  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.

For a list of recent exemptions granted, please follow the links below.

Exemptions granted under (a).

Exemptions granted under (b).

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

More information including contact details

An application for exemption should be accompanied by any supporting justification the applicant may wish to offer . In particular the applicant should specify the registration of the aircraft and demonstrate that it meets the criteria described above. The CAA has issued guidance notes for applicants which explain the exemption function in more detail. Points of contact in respect of noise exemptions are contained within the guidance notes.

Other relevant UK noise legislation

Directive 2002/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, adopted in March 2002, repealed the EU's so-called "Hushkits Regulation" (Council Regulation (EU) 925/1999 of 29 April 1999) replacing its blanket prohibition of aircraft recertified to Chapter 3 with an airport-specific approach to the management of noisier Chapter 3 aircraft.

The Directive does not require action to counter noise to be taken at any airport. Instead it 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.

The directive was introduced into UK national legislation by The Aerodromes (Noise Restrictions) (Rules and Procedures) Regulations 2003.

The Regulations apply to civil airports in the UK with more than 50,000 movements a year by civil subsonic jet aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of 34,000 kg or more, or with more than 19 passenger seats. Based on 2009 data the UK airports below meet the definition, although this list will alter depending on trends in air traffic:

  • Birmingham
  • East Midlands
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • London Gatwick
  • London Heathrow
  • London Luton
  • London Stansted
  • Manchester

There are additional provisions for more stringent restrictions at "city airports", these being airports near the centre of a large conurbation and which are considered to operate in a particularly noise-sensitive location, provided that those restrictions do not affect aircraft complying with Chapter 4 standards.  The Regulations therefore also apply to two city airports in the UK - Belfast City and London City.

The Aeroplane Noise Regulations 1999 are unaffected.

On 15 February 2008 the European Commission adopted a report on the implementation of Directive 2002/30/EC. Further details are available from the  European Commission.

Other links

More information about the CAA's environmental work.

The Department for Transport website includes various documents relating to aviation environmental issues.