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Aircraft noise was the first environmental impact associated with aviation, coinciding with the introduction of jet aircraft in the late 1950s and the rapid growth of aviation which followed. 

The highest levels of noise are experienced close to the busiest airports, with noise from Heathrow impacting more people than any other airport in Europe.

Effects of Aircraft Noise

Aircraft noise can affect human health and wellbeing in a variety of ways. Some of the most common adverse health effects associated with aircraft noise include:

  • Annoyance
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Cognitive Impairment in Children

Further information on the effects of aircraft noise on human health can be found here.

Noise and the CAA

The CAA has several longstanding functions related to aircraft noise: 


We support the UK government with environmental policy development, by:

  • Developing, maintaining and operating the UK aircraft noise model, to produce noise contour maps for noise designated airports;
  • Providing advice on aircraft noise mitigation options and investigations;
  • Analysing noise measurement and aircraft operations data to support noise mitigation, noise and health research, and policy development; and
  • Supporting and contributing to international standard setting for noise (and emissions) through technical working groups (including through ICAO/CAEP and ECAC).

We also offer consulting services on aviation noise to government, regulatory, industry and community clients.


We undertake and commission research on noise exposure, including conducting research on the impacts of aircraft noise on human health and biodiversity.


We monitor the performance of airports and airlines against national and international noise indicators.

What we do not do

We do not write or create environmental policy - this is owned by other government agencies, including the Department for Transport and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

We do not adopt international standards into UK legislation - this is carried out by the Department for Transport.

Funding for the CAA's aircraft noise work

Approximately 90% of the CAA’s income comes from fees charged to the aviation industry. Most of the CAA's work is funded in this way (including airspace and noise information), but our aircraft noise work is funded differently.

Approximately three quarters of our noise consultancy and specialist noise advice is funded by the Government, which includes using the noise model we develop, maintain and operate on behalf of the Government to produce noise contours for the noise designated airports and provide them with technical support and expertise. We offer similar services to other airports, local authorities, community groups and the wider aviation sector, which fund the remainder of this work.