• If you only have 60 seconds this is what you need to know about aviation and the environment.

    Air travel impacts the environment and can cause impacts on human health by:

    • causing noise pollution
    • contributing to climate change through emitting greenhouse gases
    • emitting gases and particulate matter which affects air quality
    • generating emissions and congestion by people travelling to airports
    • impacting the local environment, by reducing natural habitats and - occasionally - through water pollution

    Noise, CO2 and air quality

    With aviation forecasted to continue to grow it is accepted that the sector will need to continue to strive to reduce its environmental impact. Currently, some of the methods to reduce environmental impacts are:


    • manufacturers building quieter aircraft and Airlines investing in them
    • airports providing schemes to help insulate homes and community buildings such as schools, or in some cases offering financial assistance to help people relocate to a quieter area
    • airports giving details of operational information such as runway use and direction of take-off and landing to help people assess when aircraft will be flying overhead
    • airports providing flight-tracking tools on their websites to allow people to better understand the aircraft activity above a chosen location
    • airports explaining any airspace change proposals or trials being operated at your local airport
    • enabling people to complain about noise
    • airports providing detailed information on what generates noise and how they are attempting to reduce this impact
    • airports publishing reports about noise levels and overall noise reduction performance

    Climate change

    • manufacturers building more efficient aircraft and airlines investing in them
    • airlines and fuel manufacturers developing next generation biofuels
    • airlines reducing unnecessary weight on the aircraft
    • airlines using different ways to operate the aircraft to reduce emissions, such as changing the way they climb or using less engine power when moving around the airport
    • air traffic management allowing airlines to fly the shortest available route at the most efficient available altitude and speed
    • airlines increasing passenger load factors to improve emissions per passenger.
    • airports investing in energy saving buildings

    Air quality

    • airports providing and encouraging use of fixed electrical ground power and preconditioned air for airlines to use when stationary – these reduce the need to use aircraft engines.
    • airports optimising the efficient flow of aircraft traffic to prevent unnecessary aircraft idling and taxiing
    • government and airports investing in transport links to encourage more use of public transport
    • airports investing in lower emission ground vehicles

    Waste and recycling

    • airports providing facilities to help airlines recycle their waste
    • airports providing recycling bins at the terminal


    • airports improving fuel and de-icer storage and handling facilities and processes to reduce the risk of water pollution


    • airports creating wildlife management strategies on and around the airport

    You as a member of the public or aviation customer can also help to improve the environmental performance of aviation by:

    • engaging in the local debate around airport capacity in your area
    • choosing those airlines and flights that offer the lowest environmental impact
    • opting for the most sustainable way to travel to airports

    Want to know more?

    Then return to our environment home page and explore the points listed above in more detail.