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Graham Lake discusses the challenges of managing noise around airports

Focus on the environmental impact of aviation is increasing, carbon reduction is the primary focus of policy makers and regulators. Noise management and driving improvements in noise performance, learning the lessons of stakeholder engagement are also important environmental policy and regulatory obligations faced by airports, airlines and Air Navigation Service Providers alike.

Air Transport is an international rules-based activity, with prescribed policies, regulations methods and tools. International conventions set the structure and boundaries for noise management at a global (ICAO), regional (EU) and national (government) level. Global standards for noise management and mitigation include: Aircraft Certification and operation, Airport standards and recommended practices and, Airspace management standards and recommended practices. Each of these, to a large extent is independent of the other.

The ability to influence and improve on these globally agreed noise performance requirements at a national level is relatively minor. The policy and regulatory structures also tend to create a silo culture in aircraft noise management. This can, according to residents affected by aircraft noise, lead to the view that national institutions, airlines, airports and airspace managers are not doing everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate the noise problems that local communities are raising.

In response, both industry and their trade bodies point to investments in modern aircraft, non-noise related environmental initiatives at airports and, airspace modernisation and Single European Sky modules, rather than agreeing that more could be done on noise. There is no doubt that each industry stakeholder fulfils its noise management obligations, yet it is equally likely that more could reasonably be done to reduce noise disturbance.

Five Aero Directors have helped airports, airlines and ANSPs to identify, benchmark, plan and implement best in class noise management initiatives to deliver additional noise improvements and effective community engagement strategies over and above statutory obligations.

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