• 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.


    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: 033 0138 2750
    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: 

    Telephone: 0330 022 1500
    From outside the UK: +44 330 022 1500

    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

    The Aeroplane Noise Regulations 1999 (as amended) require that any civil subsonic jet aeroplanes with a maximum take-off mass of 34,000kg or more, or with more than 19 passenger seats, shall not be operated at any airport in the United Kingdom on or after 1 April 2002 unless that aeroplane complies with requirements which meet the standards specified in Part II, Chapter 3, Volume 1 of Annex 16 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. This requirement effectively bans the noisiest airliners from UK airports. Regulation 25 gives the CAA the ability to grant specific, temporary exemptions from this ban.

    Other relevant UK noise legislation

    Retained EU legislation Regulation (EU) 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.