Aviation Environmental Impacts

  • Long-term exposure to aircraft noise is linked with a variety of health impacts even at relatively low noise levels, including ischaemic heart disease, sleep disturbance, annoyance and cognitive impairment.
  • The annoyance reported by residents for a given level of aircraft noise has been shown to be greater than that caused by other transport sources.
  • Aviation is one of many sources that influence air quality, both in the vicinity of the airport and further afield. Although there remain knowledge gaps (e.g. impact of ultrafine particles), there are generally good estimates for the amount of pollutants emitted by aircraft and their health effects.
  • A high level of scientific understanding of the long term climate effect from aviation CO2 emissions make it a clear and important target for mitigation efforts.
  • Climate impacts from non-CO2 emissions (e.g. NOX, particles) cannot be ignored as they represent warming effects that are important in the shorter term, but the level of scientific understanding of the magnitude of the effects is medium to very low.
  • More States and organisations are taking action to adapt and build resilience to the impacts that climate change will have on the aviation sector (e.g. higher temperatures, rising sea-levels).

 

A robust scientific understanding of the environmental impacts from aviation is an essential basis for informed policy discussions, and for the development of effective mitigation measures that achieve the desired outcome in a cost-effective way. This chapter provides an overview of the latest scientific understanding on the noise, air quality and climate change impacts from the aviation sector.