What is the noise pollution in airports? A recent article by Conal Watson at Forbes gives a good overview of the subject: Noise Pollution in Airports.
Conal discusses the debate over noise restrictions and their impact on airport operations. However, it is not just about noise. There are other issues that need to be addressed:
– The impact of aircraft noise on human health
– The lack of space for aircraft fuselages to take off and land
– The impact of aircraft on road traffic, including congestion and accidents
– The huge costs to airlines if they are forced to close down an airport due to noise restrictions
– The impact of noise restrictions on leisure travel
The problem is that many airports simply don’t have any strategies or measures in place to address these issues. Things such as restricting access for planes or imposing a “noise wall” around busy corridors mean that there is no time for the people who have to work there anyway. This can lead to poor service, long queues and conflict between passengers and staff. These issues remain unresolved but cannot be tackled without some form of change. There are also questions that need to be asked about whether international standards are being met (e.g., Eurocontrol).
Noise is an issue for airports, airlines and the general public. Some noise is unavoidable, but much is caused by aviation and road traffic. One of the ways we address this issue is to make it less obvious what aircraft we see over our heads, so that people’s minds are not distracted while they’re trying to fly.
On the topic: Noise levels
The quietest airport in the world is Singapore Changi (which has a very low level of noise) which sits on a hill at the centre of Singapore Changi Airport. Much louder than any other airport in the world (including Heathrow), it has the lowest noise levels in the world. The extra control tower at Changi makes no difference to its noise levels.
In some senses, this makes sense — it reduces people’s attention from what they are doing (and being distracted by), and people can be more easily distracted on an airplane than anywhere else. However, although this may be desirable from a psychological point of view, it can also make things worse as well as better: airplanes flying lower over populated areas tend to be louder than airplanes flying higher over uninhabited areas — which can result in more accidents where planes crash into buildings or power lines because people are paying attention to them.
More broadly, there is a lot of research showing that aircraft noise can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being too — including potentially causing hearing loss or even death for those who work near airports and jets flying very high above their heads during takeoffs and landings.
Noise Pollution in Airports
Noise is much more than just a problem in airports, it’s a problem of all forms. The noise levels at airports are influenced by many factors: the size and shape of the airport, the people working there and their jobs, the noise-pollution-emitting equipment, the geography of the airport and so on. Noise is also influenced by ambient air quality as well as other factors such as wind speed and direction.
All of these factors affect how much noise we can hear from our own homes or from other homes nearby. If we don’t like how much noise our neighbor is making, we can make a complaint to airport authorities or take action in court (which may involve filing lawsuits). We may also be able to make changes to our home or neighborhood that would stop this type of pollution (e.g., putting up sound insulation).
If your neighborhood has a noisy highway, you might be able to do something about it (or you might not — I have.) But if you live near an airport, either because you work at one or because you regularly fly there (remember: our neighbors are neighbors too), this is something different for you.
Having been involved in some large airport projects (I live just outside Heathrow Airport), I’ve dealt with issues of transportation-related noise pollution both on projects and on my own time (along with my wife). Here’s what I’ve learned about aircraft noise pollution in airports:
• Airport Noise Pollution Statistics For Various Types Of Aircraft • Airport Noise Data From NASA To Provide References For This Article • How Long Do Aircraft Take To Get From Point A To Point B? • The Location Of Airlines’ Base Of Operations In The United States • The Number Of People Working At Each Airport • The Workforce Type At Each Airport • How Much Is There In Total At Each Airport?
Areas near major airports have very high levels of aircraft traffic. So your area might have fewer flights here than nearby areas that do not have major airports but still suffer high levels of aircraft traffic due to its proximity to them. Also, people who fly within close proximity to major airports tend to live closer together than people who do not work around those airports — which increases their impact on neighborhood noise levels.
This table from NASA shows how long each type of airplane takes to travel from an origin point A to a destination point B:
Traditional Methods of Controlling Noise Pollution in Airports
Most airports do not have control systems to reduce the level of noise pollution in the environment (which is a result of flight activity, fuel burning and the sound of people talking). It is estimated that there are around 50,000 aircraft movements per day at airports worldwide. Each aircraft produces approximately one tonne of noise when it is in flight. The average human being produces about 1.5 tonnes of airborne noise on a daily basis (see below for more information).
The noise levels emitted by aircraft are not only a major safety concern for users of airports but also cause annoyance to neighbors and other people living nearby. Therefore, it is important that all airports can be equipped with control systems which can significantly reduce the level of air pollution and thereby keep the user and other citizens safe.
Noise pollution is usually caused by commercial aircrafts, either operating within an airport or departing from an airport. Aircrafts generally produce sound levels ranging between 50-150 dB(A) (in a quiet public airspace) or 80 -180 dB(A) during take offs up to 3 km away from the runway centerline (and even further if they descend as low as 0 -1km). However, these levels are rarely exceeded on any given landing or departure due to pilot fatigue and/or other factors such as weather conditions, lack of excess cabin pressure leading to cabin depressurization and other contributing factors…
The main sources from which air pollution is emitted:
• Jet engines, manufactured by various manufacturers all over the world:
Newer Methods of Controlling Noise Pollution in Airports
Noise pollution has been a major issue for the aviation industry for many years, and is still a major problem. How are airports and airlines dealing with it? In the US, noise from aircraft is regulated by the Clean Air Act of 1970.
This act created a process through which aircraft operators would be required to do certain things to reduce the noise level of their planes. This was in response to a series of accidents in which planes crashed into buildings near airports, or were diverted and landed on runways that were too short for their landing gear. The act also attempted to create an administrative mechanism through which airport operators could complain against air carriers that were operating at higher than normal noise levels, although this proved unsuccessful (it was only after a long legal battle, and many hearings before the EPA that they finally succeeded).
The main complaints are “near misses”, “losses” and “dangerous conditions”.
Near misses occur when an aircraft is close enough to land (and thus its engines generate massive amounts of noise). Losses occur when an aircraft’s engine fails due to something like a bird strike or wing breakage. Dangerous conditions occur when there are severe noise levels during flight (in order for this to happen, there needs to be sufficient wind behind it) and so take place during take off or landing.
These are all infractions under the act’s regulations. Each infraction carries with them various fines ranging from $10 000 – $500 000 per day up to $2 Million Dollars per day; resulting in penalties varying from $25 000 – $2 million per incident per flight hour of over-capacity (which means an increase in frequency above 10%) – up with each infraction being considered more serious than the previous one if it involves multiple flights operating over-capacity at once.
In addition to these fines, airports can apply for penalties if passengers experience problems due to excessive air traffic: these range from 50% of their total revenue down payment (if they have been convicted) – up with each penalty more serious than the previous one if it involves multiple flights operating over-capacity at once; up with each penalty being considered more serious than the previous one if it involves multiple flights operating over-capacity at once.
The FAA has taken measures against high-frequency jet airliner engines since 1999, when a new set of rules came into effect requiring some jet engines be quieter than others by adjusting their exhaust emissions slightly in order for them not using up more fuel or reducing flight safety by
If you’re interested in becoming an airline, you should have read this post. It is a very long one, but if you’re still not convinced, I strongly encourage you to read it. I do not intend to spend too much time here on the merits of noise control; the short version is that there are two “sides” to the noise equation:
• The side of people (fans) who benefit from better flights and more convenient access
• The side of people (passengers) who are inconvenienced by noise, and wish they could fly somewhere else
Convincing them (and especially us) that our service is worth more than convenience and value for money requires more than just good advertising; it requires a strong product. To make this work, we need a strong human-centred design process. Designing for people means listening to their priorities and prioritising them accordingly. We also need products with effective user-experience design (UX). If a product does not deliver on these three points, then it will fail somewhere along its journey from idea to marketisation.
Airlines have traditionally taken the approach that because they are “airliners” they are already fully aware of noise issues — so old habits die hard! They allocate airspace and resources according to how loud it is during their busiest periods, so they don’t have any choice but to live with some noise issues. But when airlines have a choice between flying lower or higher in altitude or flight paths, they often choose the higher altitude flight path even if it means missing out on some extra revenue via higher fuel prices — most notably when both routes fly over the same airspace without any significant difference in flight path altitude. In other words, we are witnessing a classic example of “noise blindness”. It is understandable because aircraft operating at high altitudes can be louder than those operating at low altitudes — but engineering has been put into place which minimises this effect by using superior engine technology and turbine efficiency — i.e., reducing engine noise at low altitudes while increasing engine noise at high altitudes (i.e., making engines quieter as air density rises). The fact that changes in atmospheric density can cause jet engines to sound louder doesn’t change the fact that quieter jets produce lower levels of mechanical noise and therefore quieter aircraft transatlantic routes generally do not require separation between planes flying into different areas of airspace due.