Progress report on aircraft noise abatement

Aircraft operations are second on the list of most relevant sources of environmental noise annoyance in the EU and controlling it requires supra-national actions. M+P has studied the present status on the technological development towards more silent aircraft, the potential of noise abatement procedures and charges at airports and the relevant EU regulations and directives. The Interest Group on Traffic Noise Abatement (IGNA) of the EPA network has endorsed the report and it will become available on the web site of the European Network of the Heads of Environment Protection Agencies.

Air transport is the fastest growing transport mode in the world and the convenience of frequent and modest priced transport to nearly everywhere in the world has to be balanced against the nuisance and health related issues of the people living close to airports. Although the performance of aircraft industry in silencing aircraft is impressive: at present day, mid-range aircraft emit (averaged over its take-off and landing operations) more than 10 dB less than an early jet liner. But this achievement cannot compensate for the volume growth. In addition, airports became centers of economic activities attracting urbanization closer to the noise sources. Airports that were outlying in the sixties are now surrounded by urban areas.

The EPA network has established an Interest Group on Traffic Noise Abatement (IGNA) that has studied this topic. Their objective is to understand the technical, operational and legislative developments and to advise supra-national organizations on the desired actions towards further noise control. In 2013 and 2014 studies on road and rail traffic noise were published. This year we finalized the study on air traffic noise. The findings are presented in the Progress Report on Air Traffic Noise Abatement (M+P.BAFU.14.01.1 d.d. July 2015).

The group formulated the following recommendations:

  1. Develop a harmonized noise classification system to base noise related landing/take-off charges on. At present individual airports or countries use totally different systems.
  2. Define more ambitious noise target values for the next stage of certification that better reflects the current and future state of technology.
  3. Develop a harmonized method for the determination of the external costs of aircraft noise and the sociatal benefits of the mitigation measures.
  4. Strengthen the position of the environment in the EU noise regulation (598/2014). The position of the public in this latest regulation is weakened relative to the former 2002/30.
  5. Extend the lower limit of noise mapping in the European Noise Directive (2002/49) to come to a more representative coverage of the annoyed and sleep disturbed population. 

The report is also be available at the EPA website:  http://epanet.pbe.eea.europa.eu/fol249409/