Legislation, regulation and best practice in airport noise management

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1. OVERVIEW

The majority of the world’s major commercial airports, and a significant number of airport bases, have adopted processes and systems to manage the impact of operational noise from the airport onto surrounding communities.

There have been two main (“carrot and stick”) drivers behind the adoption; in many cases, airports have made the investment in recognition of the need to gain community support for ongoing operation and expansion plans (the “carrot”). This is particularly where airports are privatised and they need to secure long term profitability and growth to satisfy their shareholders and these issues, and techniques used by various airports, are documented in Brüel and Kjær’s paper “Expanding Environmental Capacity”, available from www.bksv.com.

In other cases, governments have mandated such measures as part of the social responsibility of government to its citizens (the “stick”). Such measures are particularly prevalent where airports are retained as national assets, are often a response to the increasing sensitivity of an increasingly wealthy population to increasingly busy airports.

Around 85% of the world’s busiest 100 airports have installed systems to manage noise and to monitor noise mitigation procedures. A review of the table below, which shows airports with Brüel and Kjær systems, will reinforce the impression that noise management at airports is standard practice in much of the world.

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