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Tackling aircraft noise with policy measures

Road, rail and air traffic noise is becoming a major issue in Europe due to increasing traffic volumes and housing areas expanding closer to major roads and airports. Aircrafts’ noise emissions have local and regional impacts. Especially areas close to airports and located in the flight paths are affected. Besides health issues, sleeping disturbance and loss of concentration noise also has negative economic impacts on housing markets.

Policy measures are a way to reduce the negative impacts of noise. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has formulated guidelines and objectives for the noise emissions of aircraft movements. Based on the ICAO’s guidelines the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE) defined long term goals for the European aviation sector. The ACARE objectives and a related vision “Flight path 2050 Europe’s Vision for Aviation” aim besides improved safety, reduced emissions and energy consumption also for reduced aircraft noise. A short to medium term goal by 2020 is a 10 dB noise reduction per movement and a maximum noise level of 65 dB at the outer limits of an airport. The long term goal is a 15 dB noise reduction per movement by 2050 (ACARE, 2012).

The figure below shows a comprehensive list of aircraft types operating in Europe, aircrafts’ capacities and current take-off noise levels. The take-off (TO) noise levels of civil aircrafts operating in Europe are clearly above WHO’s (1999) threshold values for noise exposure in housing areas (55 dB daytime, 45 dB at night). The figure also shows ACARE’s aircraft noise reduction goals for 2020 and 2050 for the different aircrafts (ACARE, 2012).


The RECREATE project is studying the potential noise reduction of a new, quieter aircraft type and reallocated, decentralised movements. The new RECREATE aircraft type, which would replace some of the larger, louder aircrafts, is similar to the new airbus 320 and would be in accordance with the ACARE’s reduction goal with 10 dB lower take-off noise. In case the ACARE goals would be reached for all civil aircrafts through technical developments and policy measures, it would significantly reduce the noise exposure and would bring also the larger aircrafts’ noise levels below the noise emissions of the current A320.

Click here to read more about the RECREATE project.

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