There are two main European regulatory measures for managing the impact of aircraft noise around airports. The first is the Environmental Noise Directive
that promotes effective monitoring and management of noise impacts alongside national and local initiatives. The other is the Balanced Approach Regulation
that establishes airport noise management elements, including rules and procedures on the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions (
EASA performs two specific roles in support of the above regulatory measures. The first is to verify and publish aircraft noise and performance data, which is used in models to calculate airport noise contours and assess the surrounding noise impact. This dataset ensures that airport noise modelling in Europe is robust and harmonised. The second role is to collect noise certificate documentation from aircraft with a maximum take-off mass greater than 34,000 kg, or 19 passenger seats or more, operating at European airports. To fulfil these roles, the Agency has launched the Aircraft Noise and Performance (ANP) database and the Environmental Portal
through which appropriate stakeholders can submit and share information.
In line with the Environmental Noise Directive, aircraft noise management at airports involves monitoring and assessing the situation, and then defining a baseline, future objectives and an associated noise action plan. The Balanced Approach plays a key role in this action plan and consists of the following core elements:
- Reduction of noise at source involving research programmes aiming at reducing aircraft noise through technology and design.
- Land-use planning and management policies to avoid incompatible developments such as residential buildings in noise-sensitive areas.
- Noise abatement operational procedures
to enable the reduction or redistribution of noise around the airport and make full use of modern aircraft and air navigation capabilities.
- Operating restrictions on aircraft that limit access to or reduce the operational capacity of an airport, for instance noise quotas or flight restrictions.
Greater emphasis may be placed on certain elements of the Balanced Approach compared to others, depending on the airport noise abatement objectives and the cost of mitigation measures
. Whilst recognising that operational restrictions should be used only after consideration of all other elements of the Balanced Approach, 79% of European airports recently surveyed by Airport Council International Europe (ACI-E) indicated that they employ various measures (e.g. restrictions on noisier aircraft, night flight restrictions, runway restrictions, noise budgets and movement caps). The scope of operating restrictions varies on an airport-by-airport basis and the aircraft noise certification basis. Unlike for aircraft compliant with Chapter 3 of ICAO Annex 16 Volume I, restrictions of Chapter 4 and 14 aircraft should be of a partial nature and not totally prohibit access of these aircraft to the airport concerned.
A recent study for the European Commission on the application of the Balanced Approach Regulation concluded that some Member States have the same competent authority for this Regulation and the Environmental Noise Directive, whereas others have different authorities. While the Regulation is considered to have clear and accountable processes to engage and consult stakeholders, the study noted that it would be beneficial to clarify objectives and procedures by means of best practice guidance to follow when selecting and implementing noise reduction measures.