• 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.

    For controlled airspace, the CAA decides which routes aircraft can fly over the UK. It decides on the permitted routes into and out of airports within controlled airspace. This task is known as airspace management, and there are strict rules on how the CAA has to do it.

    Routes to and from these airports are well-established. When there are requests for changes to routes - for example, to allow more flights to operate, to serve a new runway or new airport, or to enable aircraft to avoid certain areas - it is the CAA's job to decide whether or not to allow the change. It must follow a statutory Airspace Change Process, which includes comprehensive evaluation of the proposed routing change and its impact on other airspace users and the general public. One important aspect of this is considering the annoyance and disturbance caused to the general public by noise.

    Find out more about the Airspace Change Process

    Information about what changes to airspace the CAA will consider, including how it will assess the noise impact of a proposed change is available in our publication CAP725: Airspace Change Process Guidance Document.

    Statutory duties of the CAA relating to airspace are set out in the UK government publication Guidance to the Civil Aviation Authority on Environmental Objectives Relating to the Exercise of its Air Navigation Functions.

    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.

    The CAA monitors noise at major UK airports and produces information about noise levels. Some of this is published as basic data, but we also produce aircraft noise maps, using noise contours. This helps illustrate the impact of aircraft noise around airports.

    We have highly specialised noise-monitoring equipment. In the UK, one of our main noise monitoring jobs is the continuous monitoring of noise and flight paths around Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports, which we do on behalf of the Department for Transport.

    See some of the noise maps we have produced for these three airports.

    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.

    The CAA's Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD) is home to most of our work on noise and in particular the work to understand the impact of aviation noise on people. We keep a close eye on emerging research into different effects of noise, and regularly review this work and publish summaries of studies into different topics. We also advise the Government on policy around aviation noise, particularly at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports.

    Find out more about our research by viewing a list of ERCD publications.

    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.

    See our full list of reports

    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)
  • ERCD
    Civil Aviation Authority
    CAA House, K4
    45-59 Kingsway
    London WC2B 6TE

    Email: darren.rhodes@caa.co.uk
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7453 6089
    Fax: +44 (0)20 7453 6097