Overview of Aviation Sector

  • The number of flights increased by 8% between 2014 and 2017, and grows by 42% from 2017 to 2040 in the most-likely forecast.
  • Technological improvements, fleet renewal and increased operational efficiency have been able to partially counterbalance the impact of recent growth, but there has still been an increase in overall noise since 2014.
  • In 2011, aviation accounted for 3.2% of the total population exposed to Lden levels above 55 dB from all sources covered by the EU Environmental Noise Directive.
  • The number of people exposed to significant noise around 47 major European airports shows potential stabilisation, but under an assumption of no change in population and no airport expansion.
  • The number of major airports that handle more than 50,000 annual aircraft movements is expected to increase from 82 in 2017 to 110 in 2040, and therefore aviation noise may well affect new populations.
  • The environmental efficiency of aviation continues to improve and, by 2040, further improvements are expected in average noise energy per flight (-24%).

Technology and Design

  • Recent certification data demonstrates that advanced technologies continue to be integrated into new designs.
  • New aircraft noise standard became applicable on 1 January 2018.
  • The average noise level of the twin-aisle aircraft category in the European fleet has significantly reduced since 2008 due the introduction of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.
  • New technologies (e.g. supersonic and urban mobility aircraft) need to be carefully integrated into the aviation system to avoid undermining progress in mitigating environmental impacts.

Air Traffic Management and Operations

  • Continuous descent operations have potential for reducing noise, especially in the European core area.
  • The full potential from operational initiatives is not always achieved due to conflicting air navigation requirements (e.g. safety, environment, economic, capacity).
  • New processes to verify aircraft noise data and collect aircraft noise certificates are being put in place by EASA to support a harmonised approach to managing aircraft noise.
  • Marginally compliant ‘Chapter 3’ aircraft, as used in the ‘Balanced Approach’, represented less than 5% of operations in Europe during 2017.
  • Noise charges are used extensively, but the low level of charges (less than 1% of airline operating costs) is unlikely to affect the fleet operating at airports.
  • Involvement of stakeholders is crucial to identifying balanced mitigation measures, and can be done through a process such as Collaborative Environmental Management, which has already been implemented at 25 airports.

Aviation Environmental Impacts

  • Long-term exposure to aircraft noise is linked with a variety of health impacts, including ischaemic heart disease, sleep disturbance, annoyance and cognitive impairment.
  • The annoyance reported by residents from a given level of aircraft noise has been shown to be greater than that caused by other transport sources.